Olympic viewers think “the fix is in” after a judge disqualifies American and Russian speed skaters to advance China to the finals.
China took its first gold medal of the Beijing Games with a win in the Olympic debut of mixed team relay in short track speedskating on Saturday, but an after race judges inquiry is how they got there.
Team USA, who were considered underdogs, narrowly finished second in their semifinal heat at the Capital Indoor Arena to beat out the top ranked Chinese team.
The Americans were already celebrating their advancement to the finals, when a referee called for a review of the race and determined that a US skater had blocked an infield skater.
The team was disqualified, allowing China to advance in their place and take gold by a photo finish in the final event.
Team effort! People's Republic of China win the first-ever #Gold in #ShortTrackSkating Mixed Team Relay in the competition's thrilling debut at #Beijing2022!#StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/QZ6wypUPMG
— Olympics (@Olympics) February 5, 2022
US skaters were shocked by the judge’s call. “Apparently one of our teammates crossed the blue line, and that made the Chinese team miss their exchange or something like that,” said skater Maame Biney. “It was an interesting call, for sure. But it is what it is.”
Skater Ryan Pivirotto was the one who caused the penalty in the new event, which requires four mixed gender teammates to relay 18 laps around a track, while non-competing skaters mirror their movements in the middle of the track until they’re tagged in.
“The individual races are chaotic. The relay’s even more chaotic, if you can believe it,” Pivirotto said. “You just put 16 people on the same ice and something’s bound to happen.”
“It was an unfortunate series of events,” he continued. “The call came to me, on what I did. I don’t even know really what I did, because there was no contact.”
Pivirotto later tweeted that his teammates proved that they were a medal contender, “but fate decided to play it differently,” diplomatically adding that “lessons learned and it’s time to look forward for the next day’s of competition.”
But speedskating fans claim that China is “cheating” and the race was “rigged.”