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New Year's Controversies!

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There are some controversies heating up the internet this week.  Here goes:

As reported by Chosun Ilbo, International Skating Union president Ottavia Cinquanta recently asked the president of the Korea Skating Union to try to persuade world champion Yu-na Kim to skate in the Four Continents Figure Skating Championship, which is being held in South Korea at the end of January.  According to Kim's camp:

Kim's management agency IB Sports confirmed her decision. "Participating in the Four Continents competition would cost a whole week, with flying back and forth, adjusting to time zones, and competing," the agency said. "This would be very burdensome for a skater who is preparing for the Olympics coming up in a month."

I completely understand why anyone who expects to contend for a medal at the Olympics would avoid the Four Continents.  It's very bad timing for a competition, especially since it's all the way in South Korea, when a lot of the would-be competitors train in North America.  I'm wondering if Cinquanta sent any letters to any of the other top contenders' federations?  I already reported that Takahiko Kozuka will be skipping the championships also.  But of course, no one has the draw of Kim in her home country. 

The second controversy involves costumes. As reported on Nick Verreos's blog, world champion ice dancers Domnina and Shabalin appear to have offended with their original dance costumes.  As you can see from the blog, D and S are skating to Aboriginal music, with costumes based on Aboriginal tribal wear.  The trouble:

Their costumes were based on Aboriginal Tribal-wear (see above) using white body paint and red cloth "crotch covers". But then their costume designer took some Aboriginal "liberty": For some unknown reason they had leaves planted (pun intended) throughout their costume bodysuits and....wait for it....they also were in what some critics have deemed Blackface.

The forums are buzzing that (at least Shabalin) darkened his face, and the costumes are darkened in the nude areas, hence the Blackface comment.  I don't see how either darkening skin or throwing leaves all over the place added to this couple's presentation, anyway.  Bad move, and I'm surprised they didn't realize this could come off as offensive.  I really hope they have a different look in their future competitions this season.