It should have been a post-competition scene full of smiles and cheers for the ROC figure skaters after the women’s singles event.
Instead, it was one full of tears, dismay and disbelief.
Despite winning gold and silver in the figure skating competition, the focus was on 15-year-old Kamila Valieva, who was shaking and crying in the arms of her coaches on the sidelines of the Capital Indoor Stadium.
Valieva, who was the favorite to win gold, struggled through her free skate routine, falling or stumbling at least four times on her way to missing the podium.
After finishing first in the short program, her free skate score dropped her into fourth place, failing to medal in an event that she made look so easy and effortless up until Thursday morning.
“Since going to the senior program, that’s the most mistakes we’ve ever seen Kamila make in a free skate,” Johnny Weir said on the NBC broadcast.
You couldn’t tell who had won the medals based on the reactions from the skaters. Anna Shcherbakova, who won gold, was standing on the side all alone, watching Valieva break down.
Alexandra Trusova, who had just earned silver, was clearly distraught, crying out, “I can’t see this, I won’t see this,” and later defiantly stating she would not go to the podium, according to the NBC broadcast.
“I can’t imagine how tough this has been on Kamila, and it makes me angry that the adults around her weren’t able to make better decisions, and guide her, and be there for her, because she’s the one now dealing with the consequences,” Tara Lipinski said on the NBC broadcast, watching as the teenager was overcome with emotion.
“And she’s just 15, and that’s not fair. Again, with that being said, she should not have been allowed to skate in this Olympic event.”
She has been the center of attention in Beijing, and not because of her excellence in figure skating. News that Valieva had tested positive for trimetazidine, a banned substance, broke during the same day that she led her team to a gold medal in the team event.
It seemingly put her Olympics on pause until she was controversially cleared to continue competing by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The result has placed an immense amount of attention and pressure on Valieva, and it appeared to come crashing down on her during her free skate as she attempting to perform to the song, “Bolero.”
The case remains ongoing, as Valieva and the ROC could eventually be ruled ineligible in the coming moths. If it is deemed Valieva should have been ruled ineligible, she and her teammates who won gold in the team event could be stripped of their medals.
For now, Valieva ends her 2022 Olympics in a shockingly disappointing fashion.