Russian figure-skaters Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin are among the favorites to win gold at next month's Winter Olympics in Vancouver. However, the costumes and skating routine they have chosen have provoked less-favorable reviews from Aboriginal scholars and activists. The theme for their ice-dancing routine is intended as a tribute to Aboriginal peoples, with the skaters wearing suits with Native-inspired designs and their music featuring samples of Aboriginal instruments.
Despite good intentions, the pair have been criticized for co-opting cultural traditions without due respect or understanding. Bev Manton, chairwoman of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council, declared the skaters had misappropriated "a foreign culture, and used [it] inappropriately." "We see it as stealing Aboriginal culture," said Sol Bellear, a member of the Aboriginal Land Council.