An American judge for Adam Rippon's free skate gave him a score that was 15 percent above the mean for the panel of nine judges. Earlier in the short program, the judge also scored American skater Nathan Chen more favorably than all but one judge on the panel, NBC News reported.
But none of this sets her apart from the rest of the figure skating judges at the 2018 Winter Games. In a previously published report, NBC News found that judges typically give higher scores to skaters from their own countries.
The pattern is continuing at the Olympics, based on scores reviewed by NBC News and Dartmouth economist Eric Zitzewitz, who has spent 15 years examining national bias in figure skating judging. Through Feb. 21, judges typically gave skaters from their homelands about five to seven points more than skaters from other countries during the longer free programs, a meaningful amount in a sport where total scores for top finishers range from 180 to 220.
According to Zitzewitz, historical data indicates the Olympics may be the most biased of all international skating competitions. The pattern has continued at PyeongChang, and there is little reason to think it will change in Olympic skating's marquee event, the women's free skate, which begins Thursday night U.S. time.