U.S. figure skating judge benched

February 19, 1992|By Knight-Ridder/News Service

ALBERTVILLE, France -- The U.S. women are expected to win two medals in the Olympic figure-skating competition, but they will have to do it without any help from the American on the nine-judge panel.

There isn't one.

Based on past performances, 10 countries were placed in a pool, and nine judges were selected. By the luck of the draw -- or lack of luck -- U.S. judge Margaret Wier of Park City, Utah, was eliminated.

Wier said she did not know about her exclusion until she read it in a newspaper. "I was so mad," she said.

Wier said she thought the U.S. had been guaranteed a judging spot in all four Olympic figure-skating events. She was unaware that Olympic officials had gone instead to a blind draw.

Although the absence of a U.S. judge may seem a hindrance to American skaters Kristi Yamaguchi, Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, that's not necessarily so.

There was no U.S. judge on the panel at the 1991 world championships in Munich, and Yamaguchi, Harding and Kerrigan swept all three medals.

And even though an American judge sat on the panel for the Olympic men's competition, it didn't help U.S. skater Paul Wylie win a gold medal. Wylie settled for the silver when seven of the nine judges, including American Hugh Graham, voted Viktor Petrenko of the former Soviet Union as the gold medalist.

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