TORINO, Italy — No soap opera, folks. This Russian pair deserved its Olympic gold medal.
Four years after the pairs finale was torn apart by a judging scandal that tainted the entire Salt Lake City Games, the free skate Monday night was downright tame.
No boos. No catcalls. No questions.
And the only one crying at the end was Tatiana Totmianina as she and partner Maxim Marinin stood on the medals podium.
"I'm just thrilled with everything," Totmianina said. "We did everything that we can do, we skated clean and got the gold medal."
The two-time world champions won it in a rout, finishing 14.75 points over China's Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao and ruining all the fun for those conspiracy theorists. Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo of China won a second straight bronze medal.
U.S. champions Rena Inoue and John Baldwin finished seventh, the best full-field international finish for a U.S. pair since the 2002 worlds. Marcy Hinzmann and Aaron Parchem were 13th.
Figure skating lost its genteel, polished image when the Salt Lake City pairs final disintegrated into a free for all. Canada's David Pelletier cried, the crowd booed and broadcaster Scott Hamilton howled when Pelletier and partner Jamie Sale were awarded the silver medal instead of the gold many thought they deserved. Russia's Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were the winners that night.
Things really got ugly when French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne broke down in tears and admitted she'd been "pressured" to put the Russians ahead of the Canadians. Judging scandals had been skating's dirty little secret for generations, but this one went global.
"When people ask us, 'How do you feel now that you've changed the system?' I really, really believe we didn't do anything but go out there and do our jobs," Pelletier said.
"I don't really feel we're responsible for changing anything."
But they did. The International Olympic Committee quickly tired of the sudsy soap opera hijacking its games, and made the rare decision to award the Canadians a duplicate gold medal.
And the International Skating Union changed its scoring system, ditching the century-old 6.0 format for a code of points that was supposed to be more objective.
Each technical element — jumps, spins, footwork — now has a preset value based on its difficulty, and skaters are graded on how well they do them. Judges also give five component marks evaluating things like skating skills, transitions and choreography. Those are totaled, then added to the technical score for one grand total.
"I don't really like the new judging system," said Sikharulidze, who is working for Russian television in Torino. "Skating is not just for the judges. It's for us, also. Now nobody understands what's going on."
The new scoring system does take some getting used to. Instead of a string of 5.7s, 5.8s and a 6.0 tossed in every once in a while, Totmianina and Marinin won their gold medal with 204.48 points.
But skating officials sure are trying to get fans educated. About 10 minutes before the competition, a public-address announcer gave a detailed description of the new judging system in English and Italian.