Through Feb. 21, according to Zitzewitz, judges typically gave skaters from their homelands about five to seven points more than skaters from other countries during the longer free programs, a meaningful amount in a sport where total scores for top finishers range from 180 to 220. They were also likely to give lower scores than fellow judges to skaters from rival nations. Just minutes before Parker gave a high score to Rippon, she gave the Russian who preceded him on the ice, Mikhail Kolyada, the lowest score of all nine judges.
According to Zitzewitz, historical data indicates the Olympics may be the most biased of all international skating competitions. The pattern has continued at PyeongChang, and there is little reason to think it will change in Olympic skating’s marquee event, the women’s free skate, which begins Thursday night U.S. time.