The Russian Olympic Committee’s Kamila Valieva was among the biggest names of any sport ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, expected to leave the Games with two gold medals from women’s singles and figure skating’s team event.
The 15-year-old’s Olympic debut did not disappoint as the Moscow native put up a massive score of 90.18, just shy of her world record short program score of 90.45 from last month’s European Championships.
While dominating the team event (15.45 points ahead of second place), Valieva also became the fourth woman in Olympic history to land a triple axel at the Games.
The jumping sensation — who, don’t get it wrong, also has artistry to envy — follows in the footsteps of Japan’s Midori Ito, who was the first to land one in 1992 when she earned silver, her fellow countrywoman Mao Asada (2010, silver) and American Mirai Nagasu, who did so at the 2018 Winter Games when Team USA earned team event bronze.
“I had so much adrenaline going at the end of this program,” Valieva told NBC reporter Andrea Joyce. “I skate for my grandma, who passed away, so it was that feeling that got me in the end.”
Valieva’s win, along with stumbles from American Karen Chen, helped the ROC surpass Team USA for the team event lead.
Japan’s Wakaba Higuchi was second with 74.73 points, Canadian Madeline Schizas third (69.60), Anastasia Gubanova fourth (67.56) and Chen fifth (65.20).
The ROC now has 36 points to 34 for the United States, followed by Japan (29), Canada (24) and China (22).
Catch up with all the action from the women’s short program with our live blog from the event.