Olympic women's figure skating gets medal ceremony as Valieva falls to the finish
Beijing, China - The highly-anticipated result for Russian teen figure skater Kamila Valieva, who was allowed to continue competing at the Beijing Games despite a positive doping test from December, has come in, as she finished fourth in the women's individual event on Thursday after two costly falls and several stumbles.
World champion Anna Shcherbakova, also from Russia, won gold with compatriot Alexandra Trusova second following the final round's free skate. Japan's Kaori Sakamoto took bronze.
US figure skaters Alysa Liu, Mariah Bell, and Karen Chen placed 7th, 10th, and 16th place, respectively.
The International Olympic Committee said there would be no medal ceremony if 15-year-old Valieva finished in the top three, as her case is still pending. Now, the issue is off the table, and the ceremony proceeded as usual.
Valieva had led after Tuesday's short program after a sparkling display which belied any nerves amid the international focus. But tears were in her eyes as she left the ice on Thursday with the pressure seemingly getting to her.
She has yet to receive gold after leading the Russians to team victory last week before news of a positive test for banned heart medicine trimetazidine was revealed.The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled on Monday that she could still compete in Beijing because of "exceptional circumstances" linked to her age and the positive test having taken so long to be announced.
However, her ultimate culpability for testing positive has yet to be established.
The Russians have argued Valieva could have tested positive via contamination with a product her grandfather was taking, which would not constitute deliberate doping.
Russian media said she could have picked up traces of the medicine by drinking out of a glass her grandfather had used before, but media reports in the United States have argued this is highly unlikely.
The sporting world has demanded her entourage be investigated given she is only 15.
This latest positive doping result for Russia is not the first. The country is not allowed to compete as a nation at Beijing, with its flag and national anthem banned, because of previous anti-doping violations.
Valieva falls in disastrous performance as The ROC still wins skating gold
European champion Valieva led after Tuesday's short program with a near flawless performance for 82.16 points.
Yet on Thursday, skating to Bolero, she immediately struggled with her opening quad salchow and triple axel, both not perfect.
She then fell on her quad toe loop, and fell again later in the routine trying the same jump.
There was shock in the arena given how well she did two days before, and in last week's team event.
In contrast, Shcherbakova was majestic in her routine, receiving 175.5 for the free skate to go with her 80.20 for the short program, when she placed second.
It gave her a combined 255.95, which was enough to deny Trusova, who had shot up from fourth after the short program with a stunning free program to the soundtrack of Cruella.
Trusova became the first female Olympian ever to pull off five quads jumps, but it was not enough for gold, as she tallied 251.73.
Sakamoto paid the price for a conservative routine, and received a combined score of 233.13.
Valieva finished with 224.09 after a 141.93 put her fifth for the free skate and fourth overall.
It gave the IOC the opportunity to hold a medal ceremony for the women's individual event after all, and allowed the top three skaters to collect the accolades they deserved.
Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO/Xinhua & Kyodo News