Someone messaged me and said they didn't know how the scoring system works, and asked if I would explain why the results were fair/unfair.
I'm going to post my explanation here, and if anyone disagrees feel free to add.
(but it's pretty much a CoP 101 version)
Anyone who has a rudimentary understanding of Code of Points scoring knows that Sotnikova's score was impossible without rigging the results. Yuna Kim is one of the greatest skaters of all time, and she herself set the world record 150.06 when she won the gold medal with a flawless skate in 2010. Four years later, the IJS governing body has eliminated an entire element worth 4 points, meaning that same world record skate would have scored 146 this time. Since then, Yuna's best score ever was 148 at the world championships last year, again a flawless performance at all levels.
Sotnikova -- a good but unrefined skater -- scored 149.95 and even botched one of her jumps. As soon as her score went on the board, it was literally unbelievable to skating fans. It was simply an impossibility.
Some media outlets have been trying to squash the controversy by suggesting that it all boils down to Adelina having 7 triple jumps in her long program, and Yuna had 6. Therefore, Adelina's program was harder and she should win. Total red herring. For one, that's like saying the team with most rebounds should win the basketball game. Two, it dismissed that Yuna's jump content in the short program was harder than Adelina's. And three, it ignores the impossibly high total of Adelina's score.
To explain the points in detail...
The skaters do two programs, short and long. They receive a technical score and a components (artistic) score for each program. In the technical scores, Yuna almost always gets level 4 step sequence, the highest possible, while Adelina always gets level 3, worth less points. In this competition where the Russians controlled the entire tech panel, Yuna received level 3s and Adelina level 4s. This alone was a swap of 4 points (Adelina won by 5).
The tech panel also controls reviews of jumps, to make sure the skater fully rotates the jumps and also takes off correctly without cheating. Adelina sometimes cheats one of her jumps, and loses points. Whether she did in this case is up for debate. Almost unanimously, however, people believe she under-rotated one of her jumps, which she has been called 100% of the time in all other competitions this year. She loses points for that, but in this case the all Russian tech panel did not downgrade her jump, saving her points. The swap of points on the step sequence and the non-call on her jump were enough to alter the entire outcome. Reverse all of that and Yuna would have won the gold medal.
Another aspect to the technical scoring is something called grade of execution. The skaters have required elements, jumps, spins, and step sequences. They are all worth so many "base points", and then the score can be marginally adjusted by how well they get graded. Let's say an element has a base value of 8 points. The grade of execution can alter this score to 7 or 9 (I'm using rude approximations).
Elements can be graded 0 for sufficient, or -1, -2, -3 for faulty, and +1, +2, +3 for greater degrees of impressiveness. Some of the things Adelina does, like spins, deserve to be scored higher than Yuna, and they were. On jumps, the advantage should be minimally to slightly in favor of Yuna. But in this competition, some of the judges gave Adelina +3 on almost all elements, while grading Yuna much lower. Again, this greatly altered the points earned by both skaters.
So to say Adelina is a technically stronger skater than Yuna with harder programs, and it's "all about earning points and checking off boxes" (as Scott Hamilton said), or that Adelina should win because she did more triple jumps in only 1 out of the 2 programs, is all bs. Total red herring arguments. Yuna is an equally or greater technical skater than Adelina. Yuna didn't even need the artistic portion of the score to win, but that's another lie some in the media have been spreading.
So that brings us to the components scores (let's just call it the artistic scores). In the long program, Sotnikova had scored in the low 60s consistently for the last year, while Yuna scores in the 73-74 range. Yuna's a great artist, and her artistry and things like skating skills have taken her many years of practice to master. It took 7 years for her to move her components scores from low 60s to 73-74. But Sotnikova was named to the Russian olympic team in January, and then she skated in one competition before the Olympics. Suddenly, her components score jumped up to 69. And at the Olympics, it jumped even higher to almost 75. Hopefully that's an obvious red flag to you.
On NBC, the explanation for the results was "Adelina was a stronger jumper, and Yuna was the better artist, but it's all about jumping these days". Well, Yuna only beat Adelina's artistic score by 0.09 points. That's it. In fact, Adelina's components score at the olympics was the second highest in ladies figure skating history (Yuna's was the highest, but only beat her by 0.09). Essentially the judges were calling it a tie, and saying that Adelina tied for the greatest artistic skate of all time. Which is amazing, considering that figure skating fans have been laughing at her bad choreography all season.
Hope this helps!