Ukraine accused of ‘shameful’ Olympic figure skating snub
Skating icon Alexei Yagudin has claimed Ukrainian representatives snubbed Kamila Valieva, who is competing under the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) banner, by not giving her a standing ovation following her impressive performance in the figure skating Team Event at Beijing 2022 on Sunday.
Teenage prodigy Valieva put on a spellbinding short program display with her 90.18 score falling just short of her 90.45 world record this season, but still the best in competition history, blowing away Wakaba Higuchi of Japan's 74.73.
According to Yagudin, who is the only skater to have achieved a Golden Slam of victories in all major championships, the Ukrainians did not show the respect the 15-year-old deserved.
"We have always said that politics should be outside of sports, but, unfortunately, we do not stop seeing such things," he told Sport-Express.
"Today I saw an amazing reaction [from the] Ukrainians to Valieva’s gorgeous performance.
"They are the only ones who did not give a standing ovation to our wonderful figure skater. I was very sad to see it. This is a real abomination and disgrace," Yagudin added.
The alleged snub comes amid rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine. If Valieva noticed it, however, it clearly didn't affect her mood after helping put the Russian Olympic Committee in line for their second gold at Beijing 2022 with a 45 to 42 point lead over the US going into Monday's decider.
"I’m happy that I was able to bring the maximum score to my team," Valieva said after. "I did everything I could have done today.
"I think I don’t feel the pressure; it’s actually the opposite, I feel it’s easier here," she claimed.
"Well, maybe not easier but more inspiring. The atmosphere here is incredible. I don’t try to achieve high scores, I am here for the clean skate," Valieva said, before later adding that she was skating "for my grandmother who passed away [in 2019] so I think it was that feeling that got me."
Ukraine were eliminated from the Team Event, leaving only four other countries – the US, Japan (39 points), Canada (30), and hosts China (29) – standing in the way of the Russian team winning a first gold in the discipline since Sochi 2014.