Brainstorming ways to increase diversity/opportunity in skating | Page 2 | Golden Skate

Brainstorming ways to increase diversity/opportunity in skating

flanker

Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 10, 2018
Country
Czech-Republic
Of course it's Western centric, all of us who have posted regarding the US of A have said that we are discussing the US.:laugh:

Those of us in the US know the barriers that impeded Black skaters in particular (and those in the Latinx community) and would like to see those barriers fall. If your country has significant populations of color (as in the US, numbers range from 25 to 40% in the last census, depending on how they are read) and those barriers do not exist in your country, good for you. I'm glad you have programs to address your significant populations of color, or that you have such significant populations that participate fully (y)

I'm glad we are acknowledging the issue here in the US (first step to addressing it) and hopefully good ideas can come forward to address it.
The thesis was "that whatever the ISU is doing to expand access and increase the diversity of both skaters and officials...doesn't, shall we say, appear to be having a ton of impact as yet."

Also:

"What if the ISU implemented a quota requirement that at least 50% of tech panel members and judges at all major events (basically, Grand Prix events on up) must be drawn from non-traditional skating countries, or must be under the age of 40, or must be of colour?"

The post I was reacting to wasn't also focused on the US, in fact it was, among other things, comparing the situation in the different countries.

I don't want to sound rude but what the US of A do for themselves doesn't bother me as long as it doesn't affect international scene and international rules, which unfortunately happens often (that's why we are forced to call Rittberger as Loop for instance :biggrin: ). The international aspect was the reason why I've put my contribution to the discussion.
 

el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
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Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Country
United-States
The thesis was "that whatever the ISU is doing to expand access and increase the diversity of both skaters and officials...doesn't, shall we say, appear to be having a ton of impact as yet."

Also:

"What if the ISU implemented a quota requirement that at least 50% of tech panel members and judges at all major events (basically, Grand Prix events on up) must be drawn from non-traditional skating countries, or must be under the age of 40, or must be of colour?"

The post I was reacting to wasn't also focused on the US, in fact it was, among other things, comparing the situation in the different countries.

I don't want to sound rude but what the US of A do for themselves doesn't bother me as long as it doesn't affect international scene and international rules, which unfortunately happens often (that's why we are forced to call Rittberger as Loop for instance :biggrin: ). The international aspect was the reason why I've put my contribution to the discussion.
You are right, and I believe (at least going from the flag:)) that the OP is not American and indeed, lives far to the East of Eastern : Europe. ETA: But I am teasing, I know pure geography is not the only definition, although that is confusing to me.

But like so much else, thread drift takes over :biggrin:

I take no position on the great Rittenberger Loop controversy. As someone whose spousal unit is a classics professor, I like old, so I'll go with whatever is older.;)
 

DSQ

Record Breaker
Joined
Apr 14, 2018
Country
United-Kingdom
I would rather the entire sport shutdown than taxpayer dollars go into an expensive sport. Do kids need to be encouraged to play sports and be active - absolutely, but taxpayer funded money shouldn't be used for expensive sports equipment and figure skating has a ton of expensive equipment and upkeep.
It depends how much you value results. Outside of the the USA all the other successful Olympic nations have some sort of state funding.

I like the way it’s done in the UK. It’s funded by the national lottery, not taxes. However the downside it it’s very results driven with no base level of funding. Figure skating suffered because Coomes and Buckland got injured and were unable to meet their target for funding and so the whole sport now gets no money. Only one athlete Elise Christie a speed skater does because she’s a world medalist and world record holder.
 

Flying Feijoa

On the Ice
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
Country
New-Zealand
This looks like a very Western-centric way too look at things, while figure skating is after all an international sport. Who would determine what being "of colour" means exactly? Do the Japanese count as people of colour, because that's how they'd be seen in western new world countries? Even though Japan is about 98% Japanese and at home they have all the status that comes with being a supermajority. Or is of colour just code for black?
In Western countries, race is a convenient visual marker for both racists and activists to identify target groups to discriminate against/advocate for... I think it might be better to talk more broadly about increasing representation of disadvantaged groups in general.

Though OP was well-intentioned, 'people of colour' is a kind of blanket term... The level of disadvantage varies between minority groups, individuals in these groups, and across societies (as you pointed out). For example, Asian-Americans are well represented in figure skating compared to people of Indigenous or African descent. Asians, irrespective of country of origin, are very well-represented (except in ice dance I guess). As an Asian New Zealander, I'm more concerned about improving Southern Hemisphere skating development/representation...

As some have touched on, I think efforts to increase diversity would be best focused on addressing financial and logistical barriers. Perhaps also raise awareness/highlight successful skaters from disadvantaged backgrounds - including factors like racial discrimination, but also socioeconomic status (which often coincides with race), being from a small fed, from a country lacking in skating culture/infrastructure etc. The main thing is to help skaters from different backgrounds get equal opportunities to develop their own talent...
 

dorispulaski

Wicked Yankee Girl
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Jul 26, 2003
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United-States
Kudos to Figure Skating in Harlem (and in Detroit) and to to Mabel Fairbanks, but instead of relying solely on philanthropists and the skaters and their families to fund the sport, another source of money is needed, as well as access to rinks and coaches, both to encourage diversity, and to grow the sport from its current niche status in the US, and in many other countries, for that matter.

An athletically talented kid, whether a person of color or not, or from a family of little money, or not, will be encouraged by his or her family to go into a sport with college scholarships, like soccer or basketball, rather than skating, which has a very limited chance for financial success and often leaves kids with a GED rather than a college diploma.

One thing USFS could do is to endow figure skating scholarships at colleges, and revamp the college sport to be overall more audience friendly. One problem the sport in the US has is that the college figure skating program is so anemic.

Look at the effect of a good college program on gymnastics! NCAA gymnastics is all over sports channels! And Simone Biles is the GOAT! The US had very little going for it in gymnastics pre Title 9. US figure Skating missed the boat badly.

And here in CT, look at Women's basketball. The whole team is scholarship and the coach, Geno Auriemma, has an annual salary of 1.95 million dollars. The whole sport was back at the level of college skating pre Title 9.

And with TV coverage and sales of tickets at college events comes money. And with money comes more scholarships, but from the college. And you also get more top coaches. And kids want to participate, so there will be more rinks...and there will be high school skating programs, especially in high schools with affiliated hockey rinks..

The alternative is for skating fans to actively support kids hockey and kids speed skating, which also yields more rinks.

They should model school competitions on the World Team Trophy concept, including with cheerleaders in funny outfits, in the Kiss n Cry.
 

bookofcharms

Rinkside
Joined
Feb 8, 2021
If it's North American skating we are talking about, Asian-Canadian and Asian-American skaters are extremely successful in the sport - Patrick Chan, Nathan Chen, Vincent Zhou, Shibutanis, Alyssa Liu etc.

But it's an extremely expensive niche sport. It's a bit like wondering why there isn't a diverse socio-economic cross section of people competing equestrian or polo.

The easiest way to promote diversity (outside of the very successful Asian diversity) would be to market to wealthy families of colour and encourage them to enrol their kids in skating.

But gee, if it's all about trying to get kids from non-wealthy backgrounds in the sport to an elite level, it will just require a huge funding source. If North America had Russia's funding model, or a college funding model or a special funding package for athletes of promise and it was a case of just picking talent, it could certainly happen. But it's just about cash.

Skating is not a 'lift yourself out of poverty' sport... if anything it's 'parents re-mortgaging house and spending all savings' kind of sport.
 
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brightphoton

Medalist
Joined
Jan 23, 2009
I just saw a news piece about a retired Canadian skater named Elladj Baldé, so this topic isn't entirely relegated to Americans and the United States. Interesting that they refer to his "signature backflip" -- that was also Surya Bonaly's signature move :biggrin:

"I didn't have anyone that looked like me, and so that led me to trying to fit a mold that didn't feel super authentic to me," Canadian Elladj Baldé said. He said he found himself trying to fit into a "White, European elitist environment."

Racist criticisms tried to keep him in that mold.

"Me being referred to as a monkey or I skate like a monkey," Baldé said. "I wanted to grow my hair and have an afro, but they told me not to because it's nappy, it's not clean."

But that changed when he saw skater Maxime-Billy Fortin break the mold.

"He had a passion I'd never seen before, and I just remember that shift after that," Baldé said. "I promised myself I was only going to skate to things that I wanted to skate to now."

That spark fueled Baldé, who narrowly missed making the Olympics, to a higher goal — pushing for change and co-founding the Figure Skating Diversity & Inclusion Alliance with others like American skater Mariyah Gerber.

"So many skaters of color, you do feel isolated," Gerber said. "The whole idea of the program is to have somebody who looks like you, who can be in your corner."



I looked up Elladj on Youtube. Here are some of his viral videos

James Brown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDAomQ2RQP4
more "traditional" music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uM0gN5dzKaA
a news piece by ABC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EQ7FC9e5V8

I also looked up Maxime-Billy Fortin. I am not familiar with Canadian men's skating so anyone who knows more about him, please help me out. I've only found a very old article about him in 2012, when he was having passport/citizenship issues for skating for his native country of Haiti.

Maxime-Billy Fortin, 26, was born in Haiti but was adopted into a Quebec City family and quickly became an avid figure skater. He has dreamed of skating internationally for Haiti but because he is Canadian, he was not eligible to hold a Haitian passport. However in mid-June Haitian President Michel Martelly came through on a promise to allow for dual citizenship, meaning that Fortin can now skate for the country in which he was born. Fortin seeks not only to showcase the sport to his hilly homeland, he also hopes to reconnect with the nation on a personal level.

“I never went to Haiti and I think it’s important for me to relate to my origins and maybe one day try to find my mom and try to find my dad,” he said.

Fortin dreams of becoming the first-ever Haitian winter Olympian and Haiti’s Montreal-based Consul General agrees that it would be nice to see the country in the winter games.


here's Maxime-Billy skating


Here's a link to the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance webpage.

 

el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Country
United-States
I just saw a news piece about a retired Canadian skater named Elladj Baldé, so this topic isn't entirely relegated to Americans and the United States. Interesting that they refer to his "signature backflip" -- that was also Surya Bonaly's signature move :biggrin:





I looked up Elladj on Youtube. Here are some of his viral videos

James Brown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDAomQ2RQP4
more "traditional" music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uM0gN5dzKaA
a news piece by ABC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EQ7FC9e5V8

I also looked up Maxime-Billy Fortin. I am not familiar with Canadian men's skating so anyone who knows more about him, please help me out. I've only found a very old article about him in 2012, when he was having passport/citizenship issues for skating for his native country of Haiti.




here's Maxime-Billy skating


Here's a link to the Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance webpage.


Elladj, I miss him on the competitive ice so much:cry: I generally dislike Sound of Silence programs, and I am no fan of the Disturbed cover, but Elladj coming back one last time and skating it lights out at Canadian Nats... I had to go rewatch again. :)

And his exhibitions. No one could do a Michael Jackson like Elladj Baldé. :rock:

Sorry for the digression....;)

ETA: And perhaps Elladj could reach out and explain the importance for North Americans to other cultures, as he was born in Russia. I had to go back in and remind myself of that.

I have seen one clip from a Russian TV station about American skaters born in the USA of Russian parents. I presume they have shown the same pride toward Elladj, born of a Russian mother in Moscow, and so he could be a good bridge for understanding. (y)
 
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brightphoton

Medalist
Joined
Jan 23, 2009
Ashley Wagner just posted an Instagram story about her work with with Diversify Ice

And our Pooja is an ambassador for them!
 

silver.blades

Medalist
Joined
Jan 4, 2007
Country
Canada
Speaking of Elladj, he's doing a lot of work with Skate Canada to promote more diversity within Canada. He founded The Figure Skating Diversity and Inclusion Alliance to mentor Black youth in the sport and was on a Skate Canada panel a few months ago talking about race in the sport. Skate Canada has also been working towards implementing initiatives to increase the diversity in the sport (scroll down the page) and make the sport more welcoming to POC participants. It remains to be seen if these initiatives actually work or if they're just window dressing like a lot of things they've put forward in the past, but it's a start and there there are some very vocal skaters like Elladj and Asher Hill who are around to hold them accountable, so I have hope.
 

Harriet

Record Breaker
Joined
Oct 23, 2017
Country
Australia
A simple question - why do this? Even the existing quota system harms the sport and destabilizes it.
I wasn't talking about quotas for skaters, but about quotas for officials. The sport has a problem with long-entrenched patterns and relationships that show up in both the composition of judging panels and tech panels the results they put out - unintentionally or otherwise - and that means that they impact the results of competitions. Ensuring that at least 50% of the tech panel and judging panel at every high-level competition comes from a non-traditional skating country seems to me to be a way to break up those patterns and start to unskew the results, creating a more level playing field for all skaters. Is there another mechanism you can think of that would have a similar impact?

As for skater quotas, I'm the wrong person to ask, I'm afraid. I'd rather watch ninety-seven Zahra Laris struggle to land one jump in the SP at Worlds than one Nathan Chen land seven flawless quads in the FS. All my arguments would be for taking places away from the already extremely powerful, and creating as many more as possible for the powerless.

Re the term 'persons of colour' - yes, I know it's a broad-strokes, Western-centric term, but I chose it because I considered it the most likely to be understood by the majority of posters on the board who would be interested in having this discussion (as opposed to, say, the UK term BAME which is less widely recognised). And I do consider it to encompass Asian skaters (and officials) in the context of the sport as a whole, because as a whole the sport still is, unfortunately, very white-centric, and skaters from many Asian nations have experienced and do experience racism during their careers, and I think it highly likely that officials have too. But I agree there must be a better term to express that with out there somewhere!
 

flanker

Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 10, 2018
Country
Czech-Republic
I wasn't talking about quotas for skaters, but about quotas for officials. The sport has a problem with long-entrenched patterns and relationships that show up in both the composition of judging panels and tech panels the results they put out - unintentionally or otherwise - and that means that they impact the results of competitions. Ensuring that at least 50% of the tech panel and judging panel at every high-level competition comes from a non-traditional skating country seems to me to be a way to break up those patterns and start to unskew the results, creating a more level playing field for all skaters. Is there another mechanism you can think of that would have a similar impact?

As for skater quotas, I'm the wrong person to ask, I'm afraid. I'd rather watch ninety-seven Zahra Laris struggle to land one jump in the SP at Worlds than one Nathan Chen land seven flawless quads in the FS. All my arguments would be for taking places away from the already extremely powerful, and creating as many more as possible for the powerless.

Re the term 'persons of colour' - yes, I know it's a broad-strokes, Western-centric term, but I chose it because I considered it the most likely to be understood by the majority of posters on the board who would be interested in having this discussion (as opposed to, say, the UK term BAME which is less widely recognised). And I do consider it to encompass Asian skaters (and officials) in the context of the sport as a whole, because as a whole the sport still is, unfortunately, very white-centric, and skaters from many Asian nations have experienced and do experience racism during their careers, and I think it highly likely that officials have too. But I agree there must be a better term to express that with out there somewhere!
First you should define which one is the "traditional" and which one the "non-traditional" country, The term itself is blurry and very prone-to-bias. Is let's say Norway with the second highest number of golden medals in ladies traditional or non-traditional? Does it matter that the last time Sonja Henie won gold is 1936, is that the "tradition"?

Or the tradition is not exactly the tradition from the long-term perspective? Is Russia traditional country, even if the russian ladies won only eight golds with the first one in 1999? And how to differ between disciplines? Particular country can be succesful in one discipline but unsuccesful in the other tree. Or should be the tradition understood as divided between the disciplines? Some countries attend competitions for a long time and are not winning much, some others are relatively new but succesful.

Where my country should be? Traditional, because historically there is a strong tradition in the past, but also not very bright future, at least when it comes to the highest ranks? Does it make the judges from my country biased or unbiased? Little exercise, this is the panel of judges at the 2021 worlds for ladies, which country is traditional and which one is not.

And do the non-traditional countries (still the question which ones that should be) have even enough of staff qualified to judge important competitions? I don't know hiow about you, but when I want to buy a car, for instance, I don't care whether the team behind it's creation and manufacturing, is traditional or not, diverse or homogenic, but I want them to be properly qualified, from designers and engeneers to the workers in the plant. And I don't know why the judging panel in any sport should be taken different way. Either you are professional ot not, and that does not depend on your skin colour and being from so called "non-traditional: country (whatever that country should be) definitely is not a guarantee for me that that person is prejudice-free and non biased.

As for the part about Nathan. When I'm wastching worlds, I want to watch worlds top competition, not a competition representing a consolation prize. The very purpose of sport bigger, faster higher can't be replaced by some weird key how to qualify based on the origin or colour, because that's exactly what should be completely destroyed: priviledge and protection. As I've said before, those who want to succeed have to worj for it, not just on the level of individuals, but also on the level of states and organizations, create training possibilities, prepare athletes and coaches, fight for the success. No one should be disadvantaged because his ancestors gave all their effort to create all this and give his descendants the possibilities of a good-working system of preparation.

If being better should be taken as disadvantage ("you are from a strong country, we don't need you"), than I openly call such proposal as completely spoiliíng and destructive to the sport.
 
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Paulipau

On the Ice
Joined
Oct 24, 2020
I think that the judges should have experience, knowledge and it is normal for them to come from countries where figure skating is actually popular, but there are a lot of counties like that, and looking at judges you get the feeling like it's only Russia and us.
We have many skilled judges in my country (Poland) and many other countries in Europe. So why not have 50% of judges from small feds?

I think the quota for judges to be younger or of colour is quite ridiculous, same with quota for of colour athletes.
Sport should be equal for everyone and everyone should have to put the equal amount of effort and talent to succeed.
FS is expensive, yes. But this is not a problem of race, this is just how the world works.
Moreover as history shows it's easier for small built or even skinny people to succeed in most areas of FS, same as it is easier for tall, muscly people to succeed in basketball.
People are aware of this and this is why we see many Asian or Asian-American skaters and almost none Afro-American ones.

I fully support the idea of Figure Skating scholarships for underprivileged kids, but they should NOT be race dependent.
 

kwanatic

Record Breaker
Joined
May 19, 2011
I just saw a news piece about a retired Canadian skater named Elladj Baldé...
I always loved Elladj and he has definitely "blown up" in social media over the past couple of months. He has nearly 460K followers on Instagram. I did a quick search trying to find a North American skater who has more followers and the closest I could find was Nathan Chen (371K). Considering Elladj wasn't a majorly successful competitor during his time, that's a pretty huge feat.

Elladj got a ton of attention especially within the black community when The Shade Room (a very popular black Instagram account for news, gossip, etc. with more than 23 million followers) posted his video of him doing a backflip and dancing to Rihanna's song "Lemon." People were impressed with the flip (gotta remember, a lot of people from this generation were not around for Surya's awesomeness :sneaky:) but also his dancing and the fact he's a black skater. I had a fun time scrolling through the comments:giggle:. There were a few skating fans in there who obviously knew about him but most people were really surprised and also very supportive and started following him.

I think that huge influx of followers and support really inspired him to put more of his skating out there because since then he posts his skating more frequently and has been getting attention from media outlets. This is all wonderful because it's bringing attention to his diversity foundation. I'm really proud of him for the work he's doing and awareness he's bringing to issues within the sport. It's also great because he's opening up figure skating as an avenue for artistry and expression to people of color, specifically brown and black communities which are both underrepresented in the sport.
 
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el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Country
United-States
I wasn't talking about quotas for skaters, but about quotas for officials. The sport has a problem with long-entrenched patterns and relationships that show up in both the composition of judging panels and tech panels the results they put out - unintentionally or otherwise - and that means that they impact the results of competitions. Ensuring that at least 50% of the tech panel and judging panel at every high-level competition comes from a non-traditional skating country seems to me to be a way to break up those patterns and start to unskew the results, creating a more level playing field for all skaters. Is there another mechanism you can think of that would have a similar impact?

As for skater quotas, I'm the wrong person to ask, I'm afraid. I'd rather watch ninety-seven Zahra Laris struggle to land one jump in the SP at Worlds than one Nathan Chen land seven flawless quads in the FS. All my arguments would be for taking places away from the already extremely powerful, and creating as many more as possible for the powerless.

Re the term 'persons of colour' - yes, I know it's a broad-strokes, Western-centric term, but I chose it because I considered it the most likely to be understood by the majority of posters on the board who would be interested in having this discussion (as opposed to, say, the UK term BAME which is less widely recognised). And I do consider it to encompass Asian skaters (and officials) in the context of the sport as a whole, because as a whole the sport still is, unfortunately, very white-centric, and skaters from many Asian nations have experienced and do experience racism during their careers, and I think it highly likely that officials have too. But I agree there must be a better term to express that with out there somewhere!

I love this explanation and second everything you have said.

Particularly about which skaters to watch. In juniors, for example, I love watching the Indonesian skaters or Indian skaters complete a routine against all odds. For me that is exciting. Watching skaters from a Big Fed do yet one more jump with one more revolution in the air .... not so much. 🥱 (but of course everyone is different, and some may like that. Good for them, they have skaters they can watch :) )

As a result I have had the pleasure of watching Donovan Carrillo grow and evolve. And anything that encourages more Donovan Carrillos from more countries like Mexico should be applauded.

The issue of who is or is not a Big Fed (or skating "powerhouse") would change with the times, as everything else does. Because change, in this instance, meaning inclusion, diversity and encouraging all skaters from all backgrounds from all countries, is a desirable goal(y)

ETA: And I have been watching figure skating and other sports for close to 50 years:eek: I don't need to subscribe to other definitions of the purpose of "sport"; like everything else in this world, as I have learned in my advancing years, it is not an absolute or set in concrete. We all differ;)
 
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dante

a dark lord
Final Flight
Joined
Oct 16, 2017
Country
Russia
I would rather the entire sport shutdown than taxpayer dollars go into an expensive sport. Do kids need to be encouraged to play sports and be active - absolutely, but taxpayer funded money shouldn't be used for expensive sports equipment and figure skating has a ton of expensive equipment and upkeep.
Nobody cares here - Russia spends orders of magnitude more money on the universal free medical care and the predominant free higher education. Which are incidentally even more important for sports, since they allow people to do things not related to paying bills.

that's why we are forced to call Rittberger as Loop for instance :biggrin:
At least we made those Americans call the Euler Euler!
 

Flying Feijoa

On the Ice
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
Country
New-Zealand
I think it means a lot to Donovan not just to be a Mexican skater at Worlds, but a good Mexican skater who earned his spot fair and square. Would those 97 people in Zahra Lahri's position (not 97 Zahras, because there is only one of her) be happy with a spot given out of charity? And (because people who say they're ok with Nathan not being there might just not like his style) skaters like Jason Brown have next to no chance of making Worlds if national diversity quotas limited the dominant federations to 1 spot.

I know the other poster was exaggerating for rhetorical purposes, and I'm not against quotas, but they have to be sensible. I like watching Worlds and JGP because of its diversity compared to JGP/Nationals. But if a quota policy is extremely skewed to favour national diversity, it not only reduces the chance for good (but not top) athletes from bigger federations to shine, but also devalues the merits of athletes from smaller feds who have worked hard to be objectively better than other small fed skaters. As things stand, a range of 1-3 spots per nation plus a minimum TES score is fairly reasonable (even if the means of qualifying spots sometimes isn't). It even favours smaller feds to the point that US/CA/RU-born skaters switch nationalities to get in more easily.

As for the judge quota idea, I just think we should be wary of oversimplifying people's behaviour purely on our own inferences regarding nationality/politics. Are Estonian judges pro- or anti- Russian, given the fact that historical occupation resulted in Russians making up 25% of the population? Do Chinese judges have a bias against Japanese skaters because of historical grievances/current political tensions, or for them due to and cultural/visual commonality? Is a mestizo Mexican judge more likely to favour white skaters depending on the judge's own percentage of Spanish ancestry? I don't dispute that bloc voting can happen, but the world is not black-and-white (pun not intended).
 
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