Kamila Valieva, Russia’s figure skating ballerina, will compete for a gold medal on Thursday in the women’s individual event, a competition that will end with one winner and two possible other medal winners. There will be no definitive conclusions for many months.
Valieva, 15, was cleared by the judges to compete in the women’s event this week despite having a banned heart drug in her system during the Russian national championships in December. That positive test was announced last week. Now, if she finishes in the top three, there will be no medal ceremony in Beijing as her doping case is unresolved.
The medal ceremony for the team event last week was also canceled because Valieva helped her Russian team win. The United States wins silver; Japan, bronze.
For now, with Valieva leading the way in the women’s event, it seems likely that the cancellation of Thursday’s medal ceremony is possible. The base value for her freestyle skate is so high, and she can score so many points with her unparalleled skill, that she can make mistakes and still win. She plans to do some quadruple jumps – jumps that she and her Russian teammates did regularly – and those high value quads can be worth more than three times, even under poor performance.
Valieva, with 82.16 points, leads Russia teammate and coach Anna Shcherbakova, the current world champion, who is second with 80.20 points.
After a surprise finish on Tuesday’s short show, Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto came in third, with 79.84 points. She nailed three axes to kick off her phenomenal performance, becoming the only fifth woman to achieve the jump at the Olympics. The fourth woman was Valieva, who landed one in the team event.
Valieva also became the first woman to achieve a quad at the Olympics. In the team event, she landed one, and then, for good measure, made a second.
Without the quad jump, three Americans in the event would not be competing for a medal: Alysa Liu, 16, in eighth place, with 69.50 points; Mariah Bell, 25 years old, ranked 11th (65.38); and Karen Chen, 22 years old, ranked 13th (64.11).
https://www.nytimes.com/live/2022/02/17/sports/figure-skating-olympics Women’s figure skating: Live updates from the Olympics