Gold medal favorite Kamila Valieva did not speak to the press after her short skate routine
Russian figure skating stars Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova rated their Olympic debuts after completing their short programs in Beijing, although event manager Kamila Valieva did not appear for media duties.
Explaining Valieva’s absence from the press corner, Russian officials said that “she did not feel well after the competition” and it was decided to take her directly to the Olympic Village where she can rest after a day full of emotions.
The 15-year-old won the short program in Beijing with a score of 82.16 points, although the tally fell short of her best world record.
That was enough to put Valieva ahead of fellow Russian Shcherbakova, who also broke the 80-point mark scoring 80.20 points for her routine.
Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto is third with 79.84 points, while Russia’s Trusova is currently fourth after receiving 74.60 points from the judges.
Competition continues with the free skate program on Thursday, when the medal standings will be determined.
Russian “Quad Queen” Trusova had another failed attempt to land a triple axel in her routine on Tuesday, but said she doesn’t regret it and will continue to tweak the element.
“[Removing] a triple axis [from the routine] has never been and will never be discussed. I always will. Whatever my physical conditions, I can easily land it in training, but not during performances so far,“said the 17-year-old.
“I don’t pay much attention to the current fourth place. I skate just for me and will only skate for me. My technical content in free skating only depends on my form and nothing else“, she told the media.
“I wasn’t nervous and was determined to do all the elements including the triple axel. Usually I feel like it might not work, but today there was no such feeling. After the fall, I didn’t think of anything, tried to stick to the role and not spoil the general impression of the routine. I believe that I have understood.
“The scores are not surprising. They’re always like that if I can’t put the axle down,” she added.
Trusova is behind her teammates Valieva and Shcherbakova, as well as Japanese star Kaori Sakamoto.
Trusova should improve her position in the final standings, given that she will be one of the few competitors to attempt quads in the free skate.
Last year, the skater made a stunning comeback at the World Championships, going from 12th place after the short skate to winning bronze overall.
Defending world champion Shcherbakova, who is ranked second after the short program, said she was focused during her skating.
“I wasn’t nervous today“said the 17-year-old.
“I felt like I was in control of every moment. Yes, I have new skates, but that doesn’t bother me much. Indeed, I cried during practices, but I’m just very emotional, that’s typical of me.
“The main thing is to pull yourself together at the most important moment,” she added.
Shcherbakova, who has two quads under her belt heading into the free skate, looks set to challenge for gold with teammate and training partner Valieva, who posted the top score on Tuesday.
Valieva’s score of 82.16 was enough to lead the competition, but was her lowest of the season for a short skating routine, and a far cry from her world record of 90.45.
Valieva declined to speak to the media after her performance, following the doping ordeal which emerged after she had already helped the ROC to gold in the team event last week in Beijing.
Neither Trusova nor Shcherbakova commented when asked about their teammate’s case.
As Valieva aims for Olympic glory, there can be no winner in Beijing