Kamila Valieva comeback confirmed
Kamila Valieva will return to the ice at Russia’s Channel One Cup, held in the city of Saransk later this month, organizers have announced. It will mark a comeback for the teenage star after her ordeal at the Beijing Olympics.
Valieva, 15, was named among the participants for the event alongside Anna Shcherbakova, who claimed gold in the women’s singles event in Beijing in February, and fan favorite Elizaveta Tuktamysheva.
The dates of the show will coincide with those of the ISU World Figure Skating Championship being held in Montpellier, France, where Russian stars have been banned due to events in Ukraine.
The Channel One Cup will split competitors into two teams – ‘Red Machine’ and ‘Time of the First’ – who will perform short and free programs in the men’s and women’s singles event, as well pairs and ice dancing.
The winners will be determined in line with the same system used in the Olympic team event, with the judging carried out based on current ISU criteria.
Team captains and members will be decided closer to the show, with former Olympic heroes Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva serving among the hosts.
The event will be a return to the spotlight for Valieva after her Olympic dream in Beijing turned into a nightmare.
After starring in the Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC) victory in the team event, Valieva was forced to endure an ugly legal battle after a positive doping test was reported from a sample taken in December.
The teenage star, who is a multiple world record points holder, was eventually cleared to compete in the individual event by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but the pressure of the case took its toll as she finished down in fourth while teammates Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova scooped gold and silver.
Valieva’s case continues to be investigated by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), with questions over why the positive result for the banned heart drug trimetazidine took more than six weeks to arrive after being tested at a Stockholm laboratory.
Valieva’s team and Russian sporting officials have maintained her innocence, noting that she repeatedly returned negative samples before and after the positive test – including at the Beijing Games.
The young star is the reigning Russian and European champion, and holds world record scores for her short program, free routine, and overall points tally.
Valieva and fellow Olympic star Shcherbakova are likely to be given particularly warm welcomes by the crowd in Saransk, which lies just over 500km to the south-east of Moscow.
The Channel One Cup kicks off on March 25 with a “jumping festival”, followed by the short programs on March 26 and free skate routines on March 27.