BEIJING (AP) — Russian teenager Kamila Valieva was on the ice for a final review of her short program hours before one of the most anticipated events of the Beijing Olympics on Tuesday.
Valieva looked confident and calm in a shimmering purple dress, despite falling hard on a triple axel during the shoot.
Valieva, 15, is the strong favorite for gold in women’s figure skating alongside Russian teammates Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova, who are aiming for any nation’s first sweep of the women’s Olympic podium.
Valieva was cleared a day earlier by the Court of Arbitration for Sport following a hearing over a positive drug test that surfaced the previous week.
The doping case wreaked havoc on one of the Beijing Olympics’ showpiece events and left Valieva exhausted. She told Russian state broadcaster Channel One in comments aired Monday night that “these days have been very difficult for me. I’m happy but I’m emotionally tired.
One of her lawyers said the heart medication that triggered the positive test came from a contaminated cup the 15-year-old used after her grandfather.
Valieva is looking to add to the gold medal she won in the team event. She had a dazzling performance in which she landed the first quadruple jumps by a woman in the Olympics.
Free skating is Thursday.
Mikaela Shiffrin is 0 of 4 at the Beijing Olympics after finishing 18th in the downhill. This was not unexpected considering it was the first time she had competed in this event in her Olympic career and her struggles in previous races.
Shiffrin plans to compete in two more races: the alpine combined on Thursday – she won a silver medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics – and the team event on Saturday. She has two gold medals from past Olympics; no American alpine skier has won three in their career.
Corinne Suter of Switzerland won gold in the downhill and defending champion Sofia Goggia of Italy put in an inspiring performance to win silver less than a month after a bad fall and a serious leg injury. Nadia Delago of Italy won the bronze medal.
SU JOINS GU
Teenager Su Yiming soared through the air past the cooling towers and chimneys of a former steelworks to win China’s first Olympic snowboarding gold medal and elevate his celebrity status.
Su had such a lead after two runs that other competitors played it safe, just trying to earn a podium spot. He won silver in slopestyle and would have had gold had the judges noticed that Max Parrot had missed a hold on his first jump. Parrot took bronze on Tuesday.
It was China’s second gold medal at the Big Air Shougang after Eileen Gu’s victory in freestyle skiing.
Su, a 17-year-old aspiring actor who had a role in the 2014 action movie “The Taking of Tiger Mountain,” led by 17.5 points entering the final round. He started the competition with consecutive 1800s – five rounds – finishing the round first forward, then backward.
Su took off casually on her final jump, then held her hands to her head to a standing ovation from the crowd.
Su had not seen his parents for seven months while training in Europe and competing around the world. Shortly after stepping onto the podium, Su spotted them in the stands and started crying. He later spoke to them through a fence separating authorized people inside the Beijing Olympic bubble from fans.
“I was thinking back to when I was 4 years old and my first time snowboarding,” he said in English. “I am so grateful. This moment is so special for my family.
MONEY FOR GU
Eileen Gu won’t win three gold medals at the Beijing Games, but she can still become the first extreme sports athlete to win three medals at the Olympics.
The 18-year-old American-born freestyler, who competes for her mother’s home country of China, narrowly missed gold in slopestyle. She finished 0.33 points behind Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland. Gremaud won bronze in the big air event won by Gu.
Gremaud was the first to go in the second round and posted the score to beat. Gu jumped from the back of the pack but didn’t quite pass Gremaud.
“I trust the judges. Sometimes they give it to you, sometimes they don’t,” Gu said. “And today they didn’t. … I did everything I could that was in my control, and some things you just can’t control and you just have to accept that.
Gu will compete in the freeski halfpipe later this week.
The United States won its second medal in speed skating at the Beijing Olympics by winning bronze in the team pursuit. With 36-year-old Joey Mantia leading three American skaters through the eight laps, the United States robbed Sven Kramer of the Netherlands of his 10th career medal.
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