ALL NEWS

Shcherbakova wins figure skating gold as Valieva collapses

Feb 17, 2022, 10:45 AM | Updated: 10:51 am
Anna Shcherbakova, of the Russian Olympic Committee, gestures after competing in the women's free s...
Anna Shcherbakova, of the Russian Olympic Committee, gestures after competing in the women's free skate program during the figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, in Beijing. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

BEIJING (AP) — A Russian woman was standing atop the figure skating podium at the Beijing Games on Thursday night.

It just wasn’t the one anyone expected.

Even the fact that there was a podium was a surprise.

Anna Shcherbakova, the overlooked world champion, delivered a clean performance in her free skate at historic Capital Indoor Stadium to win a stunning gold medal, while teammate Kamila Valieva — at the center of the latest Russian doping controversy — tumbled out of the medals altogether with a mistake-filled end to her Olympic dream.

“I still haven’t realized that my Olympic Games have ended. I just know that I skated clean,” said Shcherbakova, who was second behind Valieva after the short program. “I am so happy that I still haven’t realized the result.”

Shcherbakova landed both of her quads to finish with 255.95 points, edging out another teammate, Alexandra Trusova, who landed five somewhat shaky quads of her own. Trusova finished four points back in second place but wasn’t pleased with the judges, especially given the difficulty of her program.

“I am not happy with the result,” said Trusova, who, like Valieva, was sobbing afterward. “There is no happiness.”

Kaori Sakamoto of Japan was happy. She took bronze to break up an expected Russian sweep of the Olympic podium.

“I don’t have the big jumps as others would have, which is a big handicap,” said Sakamoto, who doesn’t have a four-rotation quad in her arsenal but hit the cleanest triple axel of the Olympics. “That means I had to have perfect elements.”

She did Thursday night, too. Just like Shcherbakova.

With the fewest quads among controversial coach Eteri Tutberidze’s”Quad Squad,” the 17-year-old Russian instead relied on back-to-back clean programs with peerless artistry and unmatched skill. It culminated in her free skate Thursday night, when Shcherbakova landed her opening quad flip-triple toe loop combination and never looked back.

She followed Adelina Sotnikova and Alina Zagitova in giving her nation three straight women’s figure skating gold medals.

“The importance of this is so huge that I cannot fully understand it yet. At the moment I have only felt the happiness from the fact that I was able to do everything I am capable of in my program,” Shcherbakova said. “I still haven’t realized that the competition has finished and this is the result. I haven’t understood what has happened.”

Meanwhile, Valieva was inconsolable in the kiss-and-cry area. The 15-year-old phenom was heavily favored to win gold but is headed home with nothing from the women’s program and a looming investigation into her positive drug test.

Valieva was shaky on an opening quad salchow, then stepped out on a triple axel and fell altogether on a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination.

Valieva fell again on her other quad toe loop, keeping her from completing that combination, and spun out on another jump late in the program — though by that point, her fate was sealed.

She did not speak to reporters after a performance that made Shcherbakova’s look even better.

“I watched Kamila but probably did not understand what I was experiencing,” Shcherbakova said. “Of course, I was very nervous for her during the skate because from the very first jump it was clear that the skate is going very hard and I understand perfectly what an athlete feels at those moments.”

Moments after Valieva departed the arena, workers began setting up for a flower ceremony that the International Olympic Committee said wouldn’t take place if she was in the top three. Medals will be handed out Friday in a ceremony that also would not have occurred in Beijing had Valieva reached the podium.

“I’m happy that there will be a ceremony, that we are going to get our medals,” said Trusova, who refused to answer any questions about Valieva. “Of course, it will be extremely pleasant for me to receive my medal.”

Valieva had tested positive for a banned heart medication at the Russian championships in December, but the result was not revealed until last week, shortly after she helped to win a team gold medal that is now also in doubt.

She was cleared to compete earlier this week by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which ruled that she had protected status as a minor and would suffer “irreparable harm” if she was not allowed to perform. The court did not rule on the full scope of the case, though, leaving that to anti-doping investigators in the future.

The court’s decision cast a polarizing shadow over one of the marquee events of the Winter Games.

“Do I feel sorry for her? I don’t think so. I wouldn’t say so,” Sakamoto said after her short program. “Of course, there were moments where I thought: ‘What’s going to happen? What’s happening?'”

Valieva has claimed the drug triggering her positive, trimetazidine, entered her system by accident. But the World Anti-Doping Agency filed a brief stating that two other substances she acknowledged taking, L-carnitine and Hypoxen — though both legal — undercut the argument that a banned substance could have been ingested in error.

“You use all of that to increase performance,” U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart said.

In the meantime, IOC President Thomas Bach tried to appease angry American skaters by offering Olympic torches to those who helped win their team silver medals, The Associated Press learned late Wednesday. The torches are meant to serve as holdover gifts while the world awaits the resolution of Valieva’s doping case.

“It’s unfortunate that we aren’t able to get our medals,” said Karen Chen, who competed in the team event for the U.S. and finished 16th in the women’s program Thursday night. “I have yet to see the torch, but once that is like given to us, I think it will be such a special moment that we will cherish forever.”

As the doping case unfolded around her, Valieva tried to go about her business as usual, taking part in every practice on her schedule. And though she looked calm and cool during a run-through for her short program, the first cracks began to appear when she skated off the ice and broke down in tears — even though she was leading the event.

The complete collapse came with the eyes of the world watching Thursday night.
___
More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Today’s Top Stories

All News

The family of Zane James reacts to settlement with Cottonwood Heights city....
Mark Jackson

Family of Zane James speaks out after settlement reached with Cottonwood Heights

The family of Zane James, who died after a police altercation in 2018, reached a settlement with the city of Cottonwood Heights over the death.
13 hours ago
The community built a small memorial in front of Macie Hill's family home. Hill passed away after a...
Amie Schaeffer

GoFundMe started to remember 8-year-old girl who died in Kaysville parade

The Kaysville City Fourth of July parade turned tragic when Macie Hill was hit by a vehicle. She reportedly died from her injuries.
2 days ago
Highland Drive Closed...
Heather Kelly

Highland Drive open after closing for hours due to fatal crash involving Coke truck

A crash left Highland Drive closed between 4500 and 4600 South on Tuesday morning. The crash left a 74-year-old woman dead.
2 days ago
A brush fire started in Saratoga Springs last night. Photo Credit: Saratoga Springs Fire Department...
Devin Oldroyd

Fire officials say aerial firework caused brush fire in Saratoga Springs

An aerial firework caused a brush fire in Saratoga Springs Sunday night.
3 days ago
FILE - Fireworks explode over Baltimore's Inner Harbor during the Ports America Chesapeake 4th of J...
BOBBY CAINA CALVAN ASSOCIATED PRESS

A turbulent US this July 4, but many see cause to celebrate

July 4 has arrived as many citizens struggle to find a reason to celebrate. Yet many also see cause for celebration, including President Joe Biden.
3 days ago
The Deuel Creek Fire started on the hillside above Centerville late Sunday night....
Devin Oldroyd

Deuel Creek Fire starts in Centerville overnight, evacuation order lifted

The Deuel Creek Fire began late Sunday night in Centerville.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Shcherbakova wins figure skating gold as Valieva collapses