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Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Russians fall short of lodging official protest

Associated Press

PARK CITY, Utah -- The Russian Olympic Committee has sent a letter to the head of the International Ski Federation complaining of biased judging in women's freestyle aerials.

Russian Olga Koroleva led after the first jump of the final Monday, but slipped to fourth after the second jump. Australia's Alisa Camplin won the event ahead of two Canadians, Veronica Brenner and Deidra Dionne.

"We haven't lodged an official protest. We simply sent a letter to FIS in hopes of shedding some light into the judging process, which we consider unfair," Russian Olympic Committee spokesman Ghennady Shvets told The Associated Press.

FIS freestyle committee chairman Chris Robinson said the rules don't allow for scores to be protested, and the FIS "felt the judging was very good."

"We feel she was judged fairly and this is a non-issue," Robinson said.

Koroleva got the second-best raw score of the day on her second jump. But the degree of difficulty on the jump was much lower, which caused her to fall to fourth.

Shvets said the Russians wouldn't file an official protest since there was "no chance" Koroleva could be awarded a medal.

"But we're complaining because we think there's a bias against Russian athletes. It cost us medals in the past, and it cost us a medal now. That's not acceptable," he said.

Russian figure skaters Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze won a gold medal last week, in a disputed victory over Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier.

Later, Sale and Pelletier were awarded the gold, but the Russians kept theirs, as well.