ROC's Valieva, Shcherbakova lead on 1-2, China's Zhu fails to make free skate at Beijing 2022

2022-02-16 10:49:34Xinhua Editor : Hao Yunhui ECNS App Download
Special: 2022 Winter Olympics

Kamila Valieva of ROC performs during the figure skating women's single skating short program at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing, capital of China, Feb 15, 2022. (Photo/Xinhua)

The Russian Olympic Committee's trio of Kamila Valieva, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova occupied three positions of top four after Tuesday's short program at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, while China's Zhu Yi finished the 27th to miss the women's free skate in two days.

Under huge pressure, Valieva, who was just cleared to compete on Monday, mis-landed on her opening triple Axel before delivering an excellent triple Flip and a clean triple Lutz-triple toe to earn 82.16, nearly eight points short of her own season best.

The score, however, was enough for her to lead the ranking right through to the end as the 15-year-old sensation came 26th to the rink at the Capital Indoor Stadium with four skaters waiting to compete.

Shcherbakova, the current world champion, was second on a margin less than two points, and Japan's Kaori Sakamoto third on 79.84.

Another ROC skater Trusova, world bronze medalist, was a distant fourth with a short program score of 74.60.

The ROC is aiming for its third straight gold in women's singles after taking one-two at PyeongChang 2018 through Alina Zagitova and Yevgenia Medvedeva, and Adelina Sotnikova winning gold on home ice in Sochi.

Zhu Yi of China performs during the figure skating women's single skating short program at Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing, capital of China, Feb 15, 2022. (Photo/Xinhua)

China's Olympic debutant Zhu, who committed a major error in the short program of the team event a week ago, improved on her jumps this time, upgrading a triple Loop to a triple-triple combination after double-footed at her opening triple Flip.

But the routine only placed her on the 27th with a total segment score of 53.44, as 30 skaters hit the rink and the best 25 after short program advanced to the free skate.

"It was a little bit of a redemption. Thanks to the team, my coaches and my friends, my parents. They support me very well," she said. "Even though there were some mistakes, I'm still happy with how I went for my first Olympics."

"(To the netizens) I would say I'm a normal girl here just trying to live out her Olympic experience and enjoy this time as the figure skater," added the 19-year-old, who was under harsh criticism after the team event.

Valieva, who obliterated the field in her skates during the team competition, had been provisionally banned on February 8 when a sample taken in December last year returned a positive result for banned substance trimetazidine, before the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) lifted it the next day.

Following a hearing of the Ad Hoc Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the CAS declined to impose a provisional suspension on her on Monday, but the International Olympic Committee requested to allow a 25th competitor to qualify for the women's free skate in case Valieva is ranked in the first 24 of the short program.

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