In case you missed it, the drama at the women’s Olympic figure skating finals reached a fever pitch on several levels when the unexpected happened.
In short, the three Russian skaters were expected to sweep the gold, silver, and bronze medals.
But, the heavy favorite for gold, Kamila Valieva, had tested positive for a banned substance back in December which didn’t come to light until the Olympic Games had started.
A decision was made to allow the 15-year-old to compete, and an investigation would suss out the truth later.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 16, 2022
HOWEVER, because of the situation, it was decided that if she placed in the top three of any of her competitions, no awards ceremonies would happen, which means the other two athletes who also medaled in those events would lose out on THEIR podium moments.
Fast forward to the women’s finals, where Valieva went in the clear leader.
Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto skated a terrific program landing a strong score.
Next, Alexandra Trusova, who came in 4th after the short skate because she fell on a triple axel, skated first for the Russians landing an amazing 5 quadruple jumps. Note – women aren’t allowed quad jumps in their short programs.
Then, Anna Shcherbakova threw down a couple of quad jumps herself along with slightly better artistic scores.
Finally, Valieva took to the ice – and fell twice and stepped out of jumps.
She came in fourth, out of medal contention. Valieva’s coach immediately began to criticize the 15-year-old as she came off the ice sobbing.
Terry Gannon, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir react to the finale of the women's figure skating competition. pic.twitter.com/ZWdEcwYJLw
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 18, 2022
What followed was an emotional circus the likes we’ve never seen at the Olympic Games.
Trusova won the silver medal because she came into the finals in 4th and her artistic scores weren’t as high as her team mate. She began to meltdown saying she should have won the gold because of her 5 quad jumps and said she “hated this sport.” At one point, she said she wouldn’t participate in the podium moment.
Sakamoto was joyful in her own world having unexpectedly scored the bronze medal.
— The Associated Press (@AP) February 17, 2022
And Shcherbakova was basically ignored by the Russian team officials even though she’d just won the gold medal.
NBC won’t allow embedding video clips of the Olympics just yet, but a five minute recap is on NBC Sports YouTube page here. I really encourage you to see the footage of the dramatic events as they unfold.
PBS News Hour broke down how and why this all came to be at the Olympic figure skating finals.