After the great fall, there was a little stumbling, and after the stumbling came the tears of a child and the fury of her rivals.
Perhaps this is how things will be from now on for Kamila Valieva, the Russian child prodigy who descended from the cloud a week ago and has since been lost in the fog.
She will continue to win as long as the courts allow her, and who knows when and if that doping sanction will arrive. But for now, it is likely that she will soon add personal figure skating to the team crown, albeit not for long.
Kamila Valieva barely held back tears after topping the women’s short program leaderboard
Just look at what happened on Tuesday night when the 15-year-old had the worst short program result of her season and still took the lead in Thursday’s free skate.
Even with a confused footing from the triple Axel, she was strong enough to score 82.16 ahead of her teammate Anna Shcherbakova, 17, who had the best time of her life, taking 80.20.
No wonder people who understand such things believe that Valieva can simply be the best of all who has ever been. “Miss Perfect” as they call her. But it wasn’t up to her standards, and that’s one of the reasons she may have cried when it was done.
Another reason, and a more likely one, is that we see a young girl crushed by desperately sad circumstances.
Valieva burst into tears as she stepped off the ice to wait for her bill in Beijing on Tuesday.
Exactly what they are is unknown, except for the fact that she tested positive for banned heart drugs last Christmas and needed a reprieve in the face of global fury to take to the ice on Tuesday.
Somewhere in the gray areas around all of this, we could have a farcical accident, or something much more sinister, which will become a new disgusting bottom even for Russia.
Of course, the temptation is to view Valieva as a victim, although this has more to do with her condition’s overwhelming thirst for shortcuts than with the foolish luck of sharing a glass with Grandpa and thus swallowing the medicine he takes for the artificial heart. . Notably, it emerged on Tuesday that such a possibility had been put forward in her defense by a lawyer on Monday.
All of this cast the darkest shadows on these Games, and it was in such anger that US coach Adam Rippon delivered a rather unusual tirade whose skaters lost team gold to Valieva of Russia last Monday. “Dirty scammers and we cater to them,” he said. “It suggests that the team around her is abusing children.”
She earned 82.16 points, ahead of her best friends Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova.
For her part, Valieva says little. She briefly broke her silence in front of Russian TV on Tuesday morning to talk about her “emotional fatigue”, but after the short program she raced through the mixed zone again without stopping. She also missed her winning press conference, though others had said enough by then.
Other competitors, i.e. Girls and women, who would probably prefer not to get involved in the controversy. But they were not silent, because the semitones crackled and hissed. No one wants to point the finger directly at Valieva, but many of them will see it as a mess with casualties beyond the obvious. First, it has already been confirmed that there will be no awards ceremony if Valieva finishes in the top three, meaning at least two women here will be deprived of an irreplaceable moment.
So with that in mind, there was a recurring theme in the responses as they passed through the interview area after their routine. Take, for example, Josephine Tallegard from Sweden. “I think fair play is important,” she said. “Something inside me thinks it’s sad. I try to be a good role model.”
All eyes were on the 15-year-old who was at the center of the latest Russian doping scandal at the Olympics.
Then there was the British figure skater Natasha McKay.
She was 28th on Tuesday, so she was out of the fray and also keen to stay away from the hottest parts of the series. But when asked if she sympathized with Valieva, she said: “I sympathize with those who will be on the podium and not get their medals.”
But what about the right of a Russian to compete? This was attributed to her as well. “I wish it was a level playing field, but it’s not.” Few took this path, although one was quite sure that she did not want to get into “politics”.
It was Anastasia Shabotova, a 16-year-old Ukrainian woman who once, at the age of 13, made a scandal by claiming that coach Eteri Tutberidze’s athletes were doping.
This was in 2019; in 2022, Tutberidze is coaching Valieva. While these interviews were going on, the three puppets, whose accreditation indicated that they were journalists from Russia, were outraged by the protests. They seemed to be of the opinion that the matter should be left alone, or better still, discarded. But this will not happen, as this is already one of the biggest scandals in Olympic history. By the end of the game on Thursday, he will probably be much bigger again.
Even with a confused footing after the triple Axel, she was strong enough to score 82.16.