Tearful Valieva, amid uproar, leads quick program


After days of being on the heart of world controversy, Kamila Valieva lastly took the ice for her quick program on the Olympics on Tuesday in Beijing and earned the highest rating of the day, regardless of an uncharacteristic hit upon the touchdown of her triple axel.

On the finish of the efficiency, Valieva, who beforehand stated she was “drained emotionally,” seemed upwards and started to cry, as if the magnitude of the final a number of days was lastly hitting her.

With cameras targeted on her each second earlier than she competed — and the controversy about her inclusion dominating the protection and broadcast dialog — Valieva’s rating of 82.16 put her within the high spot getting into Thursday’s free skate.

The Russian 15-year-old was cleared to compete by the Court docket of Arbitration for Sport on Monday after testing positive for the banned coronary heart drug trimetazidine in December. The choice obtained outrage within the skating neighborhood, together with from these competing on Tuesday who had been requested concerning the scenario following their very own performances.

“It is clearly a really sensitive topic,” stated American Mariah Bell, who’s in eleventh after Tuesday’s skate. “I can solely communicate for myself, however I advocate for clear sport. I believe that’s the entire concept of the Olympics and our careers on the whole. I do know for me, I can come right here within the midst of all of this, however I’m actually happy with my profession.”

Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir, Adam Rippon, Yuna Kim and Evan Lysacek had been among the many former skaters to talk up about their displeasure following the announcement of the choice.

“Athlete[s] who violate doping can not compete within the sport,” Kim, the 2010 Olympic gold medalist, posted on Instagram. “This precept should be noticed with out exception.”

Sarah Hirshland, the CEO of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, echoed their sentiment in a press release.

“Athletes have the precise to know they’re competing on a degree enjoying area,” Hirshland wrote. “Sadly, at the moment that proper is being denied. This seems to be one other chapter within the systemic and pervasive disregard for clear sport by Russia.”

Attributable to Valieva’s permitted inclusion, there can be no medal ceremony if she had been to position within the high three. The workforce occasion, during which Valieva helped elevate the Russian Olympic Committee to gold, additionally still has yet to have such a ceremony. The Worldwide Olympic Committee stated it should “manage dignified medal ceremonies as soon as the case of Ms. Valieva has been concluded.”

Subsequently, 25 skaters, as oppose to the normal 24, will advance to compete in Thursday’s free skate portion. All three American skaters — Bell, Karen Chen and Alysa Liu — certified, with Liu (eighth) main the best way. Each Bell and Chen had falls of their routines.

Valieva and Russian teammates Anna Shcherbakova, the 2021 world champion, and Alexandra Trusova had been broadly anticipated to comb the rostrum at the beginning of the Video games and at the moment maintain three of the highest 4 spots on the leaderboard. All three have the power to execute quad jumps, and are the one ladies competing with such a functionality. Such jumps aren’t allowed for ladies within the quick program, however the trio will seemingly all showcase their expertise throughout the free skate.

Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto at the moment sits in third. Wakaba Higuchi, her teammate who turned the fifth lady in Olympic historical past to efficiently land a triple axel throughout her quick program, is in fifth place.

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