Rage, teen tears and Olympic collapse

BEIJING (AP) — The gold medalist stated she felt empty. The silver medalist pledged by no means to skate once more. The favourite left in tears with out saying a phrase.

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After one of the dramatic nights of their sport’s historical past, Russia’s trio of teenage determine skating stars every enter an unsure future.


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Her Olympics and life turned the wrong way up by a doping case, world document holder Kamila Valieva faces a potential ban and a coach whose first response to her disastrous skate Thursday was criticism.

“Why did you let it go? Why did you cease preventing?” cameras caught Eteri Tutberidze — the notoriously strict coach who will probably be investigated over Valieva’s failed drug take a look at — telling the 15-year-old after she fell twice and dropped out of medal rivalry.

Worldwide Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach stated he was disturbed by the extraordinary strain on the younger skaters, notably Valieva, and criticized her coaches with out naming Tutberidze.

“Once I afterwards noticed how she was obtained by her closest entourage, with such, what gave the impression to be an amazing coldness, it was chilling to see this,” he stated at a information convention Friday. “Relatively than giving her consolation, slightly than to attempt to assist her, you can really feel this chilling ambiance, this distance.”

Some in skating have pushed to lift the minimal age for participation on the Olympics from 15 to 17 or 18.

As Valieva positioned fourth and left in tears, she obtained a message of help from 2018 silver medalist Evgenia Medvedeva.

“I’m so glad that this hell is over for you,” Medvedeva posted on Instagram. “I actually worth you and love you and I’m glad you could chill out now, sweetie. I congratulate you on the top of the Olympics and I hope you could stay calmly and breathe.”

Sadly for Valieva, she will be able to’t chill out simply but. The failed drug take a look at which turned her life the wrong way up nonetheless hangs over her head.

Whereas she was allowed to maintain skating in Beijing by the Court docket of Arbitration for Sport to keep away from “irreparable hurt,” that ruling is legitimate solely till a full investigation of her Dec. 25 take a look at for the banned substance trimetazidine is resolved. The case might take months and nonetheless price Valieva and her Russian teammates the gold medal they received in final week’s workforce occasion.

Runner-up Alexandra Trusova was additionally in despair after her history-making 5 quadruple jumps proved not sufficient to beat teammate Anna Shcherbakova to the gold medal. “I hate this sport,” she shouted in conjunction with the rink. “I will not go onto the ice once more.”

Trusova stated she was pleased with the skate however not with the consequence, an obvious jab on the judging that gave Shcherbakova sufficient further factors for artistry to maintain her forward.

Trusova might be heard crying that she was the one one with out a gold medal. The Russians received the workforce occasion utilizing Valieva twice as an alternative of permitting Shcherbakova or Trusova to skate one of many girls’s applications. That win might be stripped due to Valieva’s doping case.

Trusova later stated her feedback about not skating once more had been “emotional”, the results of lacking her household and her canines, however did not decide to compete at subsequent month’s world championships.

Of the three youngsters, Trusova has had essentially the most fractious relationship with Tutberidze. She switched coaches briefly, returning to the Tutberidze camp in Might of final yr. And her music choice appeared to ship a message. She danced her lengthy program to “Cruella” from the film soundtrack.

Shcherbakova appeared uncertain the way to react the drama unfolding round her, and stated she felt sorry for Valieva. “I nonetheless don’t comprehend what has occurred. On the one hand I really feel glad, on the opposite I really feel this vacancy inside.”

Shcherbakova arrived in Beijing because the world champion from 2021, however Valieva’s record-breaking scores and Trusova’s all-or-nothing quads turned her into an underdog to her youthful teammates. Being referred to as an Olympic champion was “unreal,” Shcherbakova stated. “I don’t really feel prefer it’s me they’re speaking about.”

Russian skaters’ careers are usually so brief that on the age of 17, Shcherbakova nearly instantly confronted questions over whether or not she would retire.

“I’ve the need to skate, and I can’t even think about being with out determine skating,” she stated. The 2026 Olympics are a great distance off, and no Tutberidze-trained lady has ever stayed in elite skating lengthy sufficient to turn into a two-time Olympian. The final lady to retain the gold was Katarina Witt of East Germany in 1988.

What occurs subsequent for Shcherbakova and her teammates-turned-rivals will depend on many components — the eventual doping verdict, any additional punishment for Tutberidze and the remainder of her entourage and the myriad of accidents which might plague younger skaters performing quads.

As she tries to recuperate from a failure on the game’s largest stage, Valieva stays on the middle of a confrontation between Russia and worldwide establishments. About six hours earlier than she took to the ice, Russian Olympic Committee president Stanislav Pozdnyakov stated he wouldn’t hand over the workforce occasion gold medal “below any circumstances, whatever the outcomes of the disciplinary investigation into the athlete.”

Simply considered one of many unresolved questions for the three younger Russian skaters.


Extra AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

James Ellingworth, The Related Press