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May 21, 2022
IOC President Criticizes ‘Tremendous Coldness’ Towards Kamila Valieva From Russian Coaches After Skating Final
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IOC President Criticizes ‘Tremendous Coldness’ Towards Kamila Valieva From Russian Coaches After Skating Final

Topline
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach on Friday criticized Russian skater Kamila Valieva’s entourage for displaying “tremendous coldness” towards the 15-year-old skater after her mistake-filled free skate performance led to her missing out on a podium finish at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games, which took place amid controversy about her alleged doping violation.

Kamila Valieva of Russia reacts with coaches Eteri Tutberidze and Daniil Gleikhengauz after … [+] performing during the Women Single Skating Free Skating on day thirteen of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium.

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Key Facts

Speaking at a press conference, Bach said it was “chilling” to see how Valieva was received by her entourage and the incident does not give him “much confidence” in those closest to the 15-year-old skater.

The IOC President said he could feel the chilling atmosphere after the Russian skater’s performance and noticed “this distance…rather than trying to comfort her…and help her.”

Bach also noted that he was “very disturbed” by Valieva’s performance, noting that the high pressure must have made it a “traumatic experience” for the young skater.

While Bach did not directly name Russian figure skating coach Eteri Tutberidze, she was the person seen on camera asking a weeping Valieva why she let it go and stopped fighting.

Tutberidze and other members of Valieva’s entourage will be investigated over the 15-year-old skater’s positive test for a banned substance ahead of the Olympics.

Crucial Quote
See on the live broadcast, Tutberidze walked up to Valieva as she stepped off the ice after her performance and asked her in Russian: “Why did you let it go? Why did you stop fighting? Explain it to me, why? You let it go after that axel.”

Tangent
Valieva was not the only one who was in tears after the event, as silver medalist Alexandra Trusova also appeared visibly upset and was heard shouting: “I hate this sport.” The 17-year-old Russian ended up four points behind her fellow Russian skater and gold winner Anna Shcherbakova despite her historic performance which featured a record five quadruple jumps. Trusova was seen on camera shouting, “I won’t go onto the ice again. Everyone has a gold medal, and I don’t!” Among the three young Russian skaters, Trusova is believed to have the most tumultuous relationship with Tutberidze and had briefly switched coaches in the past. The Associated Press speculated that Trusova’s choice of song for the free skate program—the soundtrack from the movie ‘Cruella’—was a likely dig at her coach. Later during the press conference Trusova said her comments about not skating again were simply an emotional outburst as she missed being away from her family and her dogs.

Key Background
Valieva finished with the fourth best score in the women’s single skating event on Thursday after an error-filled performance. The 15-year-old world record-holder entered the free skate portion event as the heavy favorite to win gold after topping the chart with her score of 82.16 in the short program. The skater, however, scored 141.93 in the longer program and ended up with a final score of 224.09. The turmoil around the event also appeared to affect the eventual gold medal winner Shcherbakova, who appeared unwilling to celebrate her win with Valieva standing only yards away from her. Trusova also initially suggested that she did not want to take part in the victory ceremony. Valieva and her entourage will now face a lengthy doping investigation after a sample collected from her in December tested positive for a banned heart drug last week.

Further Reading
‘I hate this sport!’: Rage, teen tears and Olympic collapse (Associated Press)

Tears and sobs, and not just from Kamila Valieva, follow her crushing Olympic end (New York Times)

Valieva Misses Out On Podium Spot In Women’s Figure Skating Final Amid Doping Controversy (Forbes)

Read More

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