By: Della Lin
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics have finally come to an end. The Olympics are a time where the greatest athletes from all over the world unite and compete against one another for a spot on the podium. Despite the numerous triumphant moments this year, the figure skating competition drew much attention for all the wrong reasons.
Starting off on a positive note, Nathan Chen of the US delivered the skate of a lifetime that earned him the gold medal in the men’s singles event. In his short program, Chen set a new world record with a score of 113.97, while in his free skate, Chen scored a whopping 218.63. Nathan Chen has become the second American man to win the men’s singles event in 30 years. Not only did he give breathtaking performances that demonstrated both his skill and artistry, but Chen was also able to redeem himself after his disappointing performance at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics that landed him in fifth place. In a later interview with Craig Melvin, Chen had said, “I couldn’t believe it was real.” Nathan Chen has now proved that he is one of the best male figure skaters of all time.
Onto more serious matters, the women’s singles event was filled with drama, frustrations, and controversy. Kamila Valieva of the ROC was the favorite for the gold medal. Throughout the entire season, Valieva demonstrated her resiliency and consistency after nailing performance after performance and being named the 2022 European Champion and the 2022 Russian National Champion. However, all of this was shattered after her results of a drug test came back positive. It was revealed that Valieva tested positive for trimetazidine, which is considered a performance enhancing drug that is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The Russian Anti-Doping Agency provisionally suspended Valieva, but a day later, the organization’s Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee canceled the suspension. It was the Court of Arbitration of Sport that officially allowed Valieva to continue participating in the Olympics. However, if Valieva placed on the podium, there would be no medal ceremony for the other athletes. This decision was faced with many criticisms. Former Olympians Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir had responded by saying, “This is a slap in the face to the Olympic Games, to our sport, and to every athlete that’s ever competed at the Olympics clean.”
Despite the odds being in Kamilia Valieva’s favor, it was Anna Shcherbakova of the ROC that took home the gold medal. Shcherbakova demonstrated her iron will and dedication throughout the entire season and ended her Olympic games with a remarkable free-skate program that included two quadruple jumps. She earned lots of praise and had said in an interview, “I am just happy.” However, the shocking moment was after Shcherbakova had just found out she had won gold. Instead of a moment of celebration, Shcherbakova stood by herself not knowing what to do with no coaches congratulating her. She did not look like someone who had just become an Olympic champion and this was a prime example of how Valieva’s situation overshadowed other athletes. For Kamilia Valieva, the immense amount of pressure on her shoulders caused her to fall apart during her free-skate program. She fell numerous times and ended up placing fourth, just missing the podium. Valieva immediately burst into tears as her Olympic experience had ended disastrously. However, the drama did not stop there. After Alexandra Trusova’s impressive free-skate where she delivered five quads, she ended in the silver medal position. For someone like Trusova, she sees anything but gold as losing, so placing second was, for her, a tough pill to swallow. Trusova should still be commended for setting a new precedent and revolutionizing women’s figure skating. Ultimately, it was a devastating night for Kamilia Valieva, but a soaring one for Anna Shcherbakova.