Olympic Women’s Figure Skating Short Program Proceeds Under Shadow of Russian Doping Controversy

Whereas 30 girls competed within the Beijing Olympics girls’s determine skating quick program on Feb. 15, all the eye was on one lady.

Or technically one teenager—15-year-old Kamila Valieva from Russia. Valieva examined constructive for a banned substance, but an arbitration courtroom decided that she might proceed competing on the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Valieva’s case, which has dominated Olympic and determine skating information because it broke in the course of the first week of the Video games, is already altering the ladies’s occasion. If Valieva earns a medal after the free program, scheduled for Feb. 17, no medals will likely be awarded for any of the highest three, pending an ongoing investigation of her doping case. As well as, whereas usually the highest 24 skaters after the quick program would transfer on to the free program remaining, skating officers allowed the highest 25 girls to compete within the free program, which might enable the entire skaters to maneuver up a spot if Valieva, who completed in first after the quick program, had been later disqualified.
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Including to the spectacle, within the hours earlier than the occasion started, the Worldwide Olympic Committee’s chair of the disciplinary fee stated that in the course of the listening to that decided Valieva might compete, her lawyer argued, “There might be utterly alternative ways the way it acquired into her physique,” and claimed that Valieva might have been contaminated with the treatment from her grandfather. “For instance, her grandfather drank one thing from a glass, some saliva acquired in, this glass was in some way later utilized by the athlete. Or the drug was laid down on some floor, traces remained, the drug lay down on this floor, which the athlete then drank.”

That listening to was held by the Court docket of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Feb. 14, which decided, partially as a consequence of Valieva’s lawyer’s arguments, that Valieva needs to be allowed to compete regardless of the failed drug check.

Learn extra: The Battle Over Kamila Valieva’s Drug Check Is Simply Starting

The Russian teen, who trains on the controversial college in Moscow headed by coach Eteri Tutberidze, is favored to win gold within the occasion, which concludes with the free program on Feb. 17. She already made historical past as the primary lady to land a quadruple leap on the Olympics, in the course of the workforce occasion final week. However that feat has been overshadowed by her constructive check for a banned substance.

Nonetheless, the IOC decided that if Valieva locations within the prime three after the free program, they’d cancel the medals ceremony till the small print of her failed drug check are investigated, together with the position that the adults on her workforce may need performed as a result of she is youthful than 16, which might take weeks or months.

“That’s your reply proper there,” says Adam Rippon, 2018 Olympic bronze medalist who’s in Beijing to educate U.S. girls’s skater Mariah Bell, concerning the IOC choice. “It’s clear as day that they don’t assume her performances are clear. That is level clean a constructive check. There may be zero tolerance for performance-enhancing medication in sport. Zero tolerance. The Russians get away with this on a regular basis. They shouldn’t be right here. They shouldn’t be right here on the Olympic Video games. They’re clowns.”

As Valieva warmed up, NBC commentator Tara Lipinski expressed what many skaters are feeling, conveying disbelief that Valieva was nonetheless competing, and reiterating her perception that with a doping violation, she shouldn’t be nonetheless competing on the Olympics. “It’s placing a everlasting scar on our sport,” stated Lipinski, who was additionally upset that due to the pending case, skaters incomes an Olympic medal could be denied the once-in-a-lifetime expertise of receiving their medal and honoring their lifetime of labor.

That was the sentiment working by means of all the girls’s quick program—the Olympic expertise for the 30 girls competing will ceaselessly be tarnished by the cloud of doping hanging over the occasion. Alluding to the doping controversy, Bell informed NBC her purpose for the quick program was to skate a clear program and to skate cleanly.

Learn extra: ‘Soiled Cheaters.’ Olympians Let Unfastened on Kamila Valieva and the Russian Doping Controversy on the Beijing Olympics

It was a virtually three-hour wait till Valieva, the 26th skater, took to the ice. With Russian athletes within the stands applauding her, Valieva launched tilted into the air on her opening leap, a triple Axel, and needed to put her hand down on the touchdown. After putting her remaining pose, the feelings of the previous week seemingly caught up with the teenager, and she or he broke down in tears earlier than leaving the ice. The usually loquacious Lipinski and Johnny Weir, who strongly really feel Valieva shouldn’t be competing, supplied minimal commentary, and following Valieva’s skate, Weir stated, “All I can say is that was the Olympic quick program from Kamila Valieva.”

Her teammate Anna Shcherbakova, who trains on the similar rink, completed in second with a clear program that highlighted her pure creative skills. “From the primary pose to the tip, I managed all the pieces—each leap and each spin,” she stated. “Whereas I used to be skating, I noticed this was the Olympic Video games so I didn’t attempt to overlook [that], and as I used to be interested by this, I feel it helped me.” Whereas she was the one lady on the Russian squad to not carry out a triple Axel, the world silver medalist earned increased program parts scores, for skating abilities and efficiency, than her teammate Alexandra Trusova, who completed in fourth after falling on a triple Axel.

Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto proved to be the spoiler to the Russian Olympic Committee workforce’s plan to comb the highest three spots in each the quick and free applications. Sakamoto, the Japanese nationwide champion, who completed sixth on the final Olympics, skated a clear and assured program, including up factors in skating abilities and efficiency to make up for the truth that she didn’t embrace a triple Axel in her program. It was sufficient to land her in third, sandwiched between the Russian girls.

The three U.S. girls completed within the prime 12. California native Alysa Liu, the one American able to touchdown a triple Axel, determined to stay with a double Axel as an alternative, after scuffling with the leap this season. Liu, who gained her first senior nationwide championship at age 13 with a triple Axel and a shocking array of different triple jumps, has grown a number of inches up to now two years and hasn’t been as constant in touchdown them. Choosing the double Axel value her a minimal of 4.7 factors, for the reason that triple has a beginning worth of 8.0 and the double a 3.3, and it confirmed within the standings. Liu ended up eighth, behind skaters, together with Japan’s Wakaba Higuchi, Korea’s You Younger, Valieva and Alexandra Trusova from Russia, who landed the triple Axel. Liu’s triple Lutz-triple toe loop mixture, the identical carried out by all three Russian girls, didn’t earn as many factors for execution as did the Russians, seemingly as a result of whereas clear, the jumps lacked velocity and circulation.

Learn extra: Contained in the Olympic Doping Struggle Over Determine Skater Kamila Valieva’s Constructive Drug Check

Liu, who modified coaches twice in as a few years, the final time simply months earlier than the Video games, stated “I’m fairly proud of how I did. I didn’t fall, so I’m joyful about that for the quick. Mainly all of my coaching all this time was to get to the Olympics. Now my goals have mainly come true.”

U.S. Nationwide Champion Mariah Bell, who gained that title for the primary time in January, included a lower-scoring leap mixture in her program. With Rippon cheering from the sidelines, and new Olympic gold medalist Nathan Chen and coaching mate waving an American flag within the stands, Bell fell on the second leap of her mixture to position eleventh. “I used to be fairly disenchanted with the opening factor however I had a extremely good time,” she stated. “It’s the Olympics and I’m right here, excited to be right here and excited for the lengthy [program] now.”

Karen Chen, skating the ultimate group with all three Russian girls, opened nicely with a robust triple Lutz-triple toe loop leap mixture, however fell on her remaining leap, a triple loop, and completed behind her teammates in thirteenth. “I’m positively beating myself up over [the jump],” she stated. “I do know I can do it, I’ve finished it so many instances. I simply must flip a brand new web page and say ‘OK that occurred and now simply transfer ahead and see what I can do to be higher.”

The uncertainty surrounding the ladies’s occasion, given the end result of Valieva’s doping case, will solely escalate as the highest 25 skaters compete within the free program. Getting into the occasion, many assumed they’d have a slim likelihood of creating the rostrum given the dominance of the Russian workforce. However with the revelation that Valieva failed a drug check, the door is open once more. The ladies simply must skate by means of it.


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