Russia’s Kamila Valieva competes in the women’s single skating short program of the figure skating event during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on February 15, 2022.
Anne-Christine Poujoulat | AFP | Getty Images
Kamila Valieva skated off the Olympic ice with the lead in the women’s short program and tears in her eyes.
They were not tears of joy.
The enormous pressure and scrutiny on the 15-year-old Russian dynamo, who is at the center of the latest Olympic doping scandal, appeared to finally reach a tipping point Tuesday night. Despite an incredible performance by the standards of just about anyone else, Valieva could hardly hold it together while she awaited her scores.
She wound up earning 82.16 points, more than eight off her own world record, but more than enough to top teammates Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova as they go for a Russian sweep of the podium.
Valieva did not speak afterward, walking instead through the required mix zone of reporters in silence.
Shcherbakova, the reigning world champion, was second with 80.60 points after a clean program. Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto broke up the “Quad Squad” with 79.89 points while Trusova, who fell on her opening triple axel, was fourth with 74.60.
The three Russian women, all coached by the embattled Eteri Tutberidze, are trying to deliver the second podium sweep in Olympic figure skating and the first in the women’s competition. The free skate is Thursday night.