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South Korea to file complaint to skating body over Sochi judges

South Korea's Kim Yuna performs during the Figure Skating Gala Exhibition at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics February 22, 2014. REUTERS/David
South Korea's Kim Yuna performs during the Figure Skating Gala Exhibition at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics February 22, 2014. REUTERS/David

(Reuters) - The South Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) will file an official complaint to the International Skating Union about the figure skating judging panel used at the Sochi Games which deemed Kim Yuna's routine only worthy of a silver medal.

Kim had arrived in Russia for the February Games as the hot favorite to successfully defend the title, but despite completing a faultless final routine she was left with only a silver as home favorite Adelina Sotnikova took a shock gold.

The Russian teenager was the only one of the leading trio whose free program contained an obvious mistake - a two-footed landing from a double loop - but as far as the nine-member judging panel were concerned, she was superior to the more graceful Kim.

Despite the error, Sotnikova improved on her own personal best by more than 18 points and her mark of 149.95 was just 0.11 of a point shy of Kim's world record free skate score of 150.06 - which the South Korean earned for a blinding performance at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Defenders of Sotnikova pointed out that the Russian teenager performed one more triple than Kim.

The KOC and the Korea Skating Union (KSU) said in statement that they will demand a thorough investigation into the composition of the judging panel.

"We had to be very careful since an appeal or a complaint could strain relationships with international judges and bring disadvantages to our players in international games," a KOC official said.

"However, we decided to file complaints to the disciplinary committee, considering what is the best for our nation (people) although some issues are expected."

The result drew derision from outside of Russia, who celebrated their first victory in the women's event, with more than 1.5 million people signing an online petition demanding an inquiry into Kim's defeat.

One judge was identified as having served a one-year suspension for trying to fix an event at the 1998 Olympics, while another, Alla Shekhovtseva - the wife of the general director of the Russian figure skating federation - was caught on camera hugging Sotnikova moments after the win.

(Additional reporting by Sohee Kim; Writing by Patrick Johnston, editing by Ed Osmond)

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