Beijing— The Olympic figure skating champion in Beijing said she felt empty. The runner-up said that she would never skate again. The favorite left crying without saying a word.
After one of the most dramatic nights in the history of the discipline, Russian skating’s teenage star trio – Anna Shcherbakova, Alexandra Trusova and Kamila Valieva respectively – face an uncertain future.
After her Olympic participation and her life were turned upside down by a doping case, 15-year-old world record holder Valieva faces a possible sanction and a coach whose first response to her disastrous performance on Thursday was criticism.
“Why did you let him get away? Why did you stop fighting?” Eteri Tutberdize, the famously strict coach who will be investigated for Valieva’s positive, told the teenager, caught on camera, after a double fall that left her out of the fight for the medals.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said he was concerned about the intense pressure on young skaters, especially Valieva, and criticized their coaches without naming Tutberidze directly.
“When I later saw how she was received by those closest to her, with what seemed to be tremendous coldness, it gave me chills,” he said at a news conference on Friday. “Instead of comforting her, instead of trying to help her, he I could feel that cold atmosphere, that distance.”
Some in the skating world have pushed to raise the minimum age for participation in the Olympics from 15 to 17 or 18 years old.
As Valieva placed fourth and walked off the track in tears, 2018 Olympic runner-up Evgenia Medvedeva sent her a message of support.
“I am so happy that this hell is over for you,” Medvedeva said in an Instagram post. I congratulate you on the end of the Games and I hope you can live calmly and breathe.”
Unfortunately for Valieva, she still can’t relax. The positive in an anti-doping control that turned her life upside down still hangs over her head.
Although the Court of Arbitration for Sport allowed him to compete in Beijing to avoid “irreparable harm,” his ruling is valid only until the investigation into his positive for trimetazidine, a banned heart drug, on December 25 is resolved. The case could take several months and deprive both Valieva and the Russian team of the gold they won last week in the team event.
Runner-up Alexandra Trusova was also in despair after her historic five quadruple jumps failed to overtake compatriot Anna Shcherbakova for gold. “I hate this sport!” she yelled at the side of the rink. “I’m not going back on the ice.”
Trusova said she was happy with her skating but not the result, in an apparent criticism of the judges, who gave Shcherbakova enough extra points for artistic execution to climb to the top of the podium. Later, she pointed out that her words about her future had been “emotional”, the result of missing her family and her dogs, but she did not commit to participate in the worlds in March. .
The future of Shcherbakova and her teammates-turned-rivals will depend on many factors: the ruling on the doping case, any sanctions on Tutberidze and the rest of her team, or the series of injuries that can affect a young skater executing quadruple jumps. .