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23 Oct, 2022 15:41

Valieva wins Moscow title before opening up on ‘hate’

The teenage figure skating star triumphed in the Moscow Grand Prix on Sunday
Valieva wins Moscow title before opening up on ‘hate’

Russian teenage figure skating prodigy Kamila Valieva won the first of a series of Grand Prix tournaments organized in her homeland this season, before touching on the doping case ordeal she endured at the Beijing Olympics.

Valieva, 16, finished first in the women’s individual event at the ‘Golden Skate of Moscow’ which concluded at the MegaSport Palace in the Russian capital on Sunday.

Valieva earned 160.74 points for her free skate routine, adding to her 83.92 tally from Saturday’s short skate program.

Valieva’s total of 244.66 points was enough to finish ahead of 15-year-old Sofia Akateva.

Akateva totaled 236.68 points across the two days of competition, collecting 163.98 for her free skate routine and a short skate score of 72.70.

Anastasia Zinina, also aged 15, was third on the podium with a total of 200.43 points. Zinina earned 130.24 points for Sunday’s free skate, added to 70.19 for her short routine.

The Moscow Grand Prix is the first of six tournaments which will be held across Russia in the coming weeks, as compensation for the ban imposed on Russian figure skaters at official ISU events because of the conflict in Ukraine.

Valieva’s performance has played out amid the ongoing doping saga which first emerged at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics back in February.

The teenager helped Russia to gold in the figure skating team event in Beijing, before it was reported that she had tested positive for banned heart drug trimetazidine based on a sample collected at the Russian championships in December 2021.

Valieva was cleared to compete in the individual event in Beijing by a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) panel, but finished a disappointing fourth place despite being the strong favorite for gold.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has continued to investigate the case since the Winter Olympics, with a conclusion expected in the near future.

RUSADA officials announced last week that they intended to keep the details of the case private, citing Valieva’s age and status as a “protected person.”

Valieva has unveiled new routines this season which draw upon her Olympic ordeal – in particular a free skate performance which ends with the teenager covering her face, just as she did amid the intense media glare in Beijing.

Valieva admitted on Sunday that the routine was “emotional.”

“It’s not that I feel bad or it’s hard for me, it just comes flooding back at my performances. I was fine. I read a lot of hate about my coaches and myself, so let’s leave it,” Valieva said, as quoted by RIA Novosti

“Of course, I’m ready to skate this program all season. If I wasn’t ready, I would say so. I only care about the opinion of my coaches and the people around me. I’m not a flower to please everyone.”

Valieva said on Saturday that she was nursing her way back to form following injury, and the teenager fell when attempting a quad toe-loop in her free skate on Sunday – the only ‘ultra-C’ element included in her routine.

Her scores at the weekend were also way off the world record tallies Valieva set last season.  

“I don’t know what turned out better. I can’t say that I liked everything, just like after any performance,” Valieva told the Russian media.

“The coaches will already tell you what worked and what didn’t. In principle, I’m glad that I went into the toe loop. It was exciting, as if I was jumping for the first time…

“There were no thoughts not to take risks. Those kinds of thoughts were in the Olympic season. Now, on the contrary, I want to do jumps,” Valieva added.

“Slowly, we’ll continue our preparations, I’ll restore the triple axel and quadruple salchow. I’ll slowly get back to form.

“At the stage in Kazan, we’ll see what happens,” said Valieva, already looking ahead to November’s performance in Tatarstan, which will be her second appearance in the Grand Prix series.

The Russian Grand Prix season continues in the Olympic resort of Sochi at the end of October.