BEIJING (AP) — Three American women qualified for the free skate but struggled to enter medal contention in an event that was overshadowed by the latest Russian doping scandal.
The dominant Russians had three of the top four spots, and Alysa Liu was the only American to enter the top 10, in eighth place.
“I don’t know how anyone else skated. I only know how I skated. Again, it’s disappointing. I hope they skated well. And if not, then I guess we’re in the same boat,” said Karen Chen, who finished 13th. “We just need to focus on delivering a stronger long program.”
Liu skated a more conservative program, downshifting his planned triple axis to a double in order to land cleanly.
Although Liu was all smiles during the program, she said it was difficult to change coaches at the end of the season. She shouted at her former trainer for helping her with her choreography.
“The change was really recent, so it was a tough change, of course, for me,” Liu said. “I’m really happy to be able to show his choreography. I hope I did him justice.
Fellow American Mariah Bell, 11th, also had a shaky performance. She and Chen fell. The three American skaters will now move on to the free skate on Thursday, when the medals are decided.
“I have very mixed emotions about it. I’m disappointed with the error on this element,” Bell said. I came back with everything else. And finally, I really enjoyed skating on Olympic ice.
Chen’s crash left her sobbing after exiting the rink, an upsetting turn after an uneven team event and a disappointing appearance at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games.
“I’m super disappointed with my skate. I know I’m capable of much better than that. And not delivering that is, again, equally disappointing,” Chen said. “I can’t find a better word to describe how I feel right now. I absolutely have to put that behind me and focus on the long program.
That evening, all eyes were on Russian Kamila Valiev a, who left with the best performance at the Capital Indoor Stadium. Russian teammates Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova finished second and fourth respectively. Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto was third.
Valieva, 15, returned to the Olympic stage a day after being cleared to compete in the individual event. The controversial decision was made by a panel of the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the Olympics on Monday. Valieva already won a gold medal when the Russians won the team event last week.
The medals will not be presented in Beijing, however, as the International Olympic Committee waits for the longer-term investigation into Valieva’s doping case to unfold.
For Chen, that means leaving Beijing without her silver medal from the team competition. While this material could be upgraded to gold if Valieva is ultimately disqualified, it still means there will be no Olympic celebration here in Beijing.
“I was really looking forward to being on the podium with my teammates and sharing this moment, and I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling that way,” Chen said. “But what can we do? It’s out of our control and whatever it is, we just have to go with it and go with the flow. … I think once this is all over we will definitely try to find a way to celebrate.
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