2022 Olympic champion Kamila Valieva started at the Grand stage -at Russia in Kazan, despite the legal battle, but in the end did not get on the podium. Sports explains in detail what happened.
Every time it seems like Kamila Valieva is invincible, something crazy happens. At the Grand Prix stage in Kazan, the Olympic champion was clearly not in perfect condition – and yet the general, let’s say, degree of what was happening literally screamed that she had come to her hometown for victory. The fans were waiting for her, commentators mentioned her very, very often live, and the judges, in principle, were ready for her leadership and did not particularly interfere with this.
True, after the first day of the competition, Kamila’s fans had reason to be wary. For the short program without a triple axel, she received a little more than 81 points – excellent marks for any other girl, but Kamila a year ago with similar content received a couple of points more. Uncritical, of course, but still worth noting.
Because in the free program, the judges, unexpectedly for everyone, marked Kamila for all the mistakes she had made and dropped her right down to the final fourth place after taking the lead in the short program. 213.59 points in the sum of two programs – the last time Valieva received comparable scores was already 4 years ago, when she won the junior Grand Prix final after recently suffering a broken leg. Since then, she has consistently scored well above 220-230 points.
What happened? Of course, my still imperfect physical form had an effect. Kamila is 17 years old, she is growing and changing, and this is always difficult. In addition, the parallel proceedings at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the final hearing of which took place on the eve of her departure to Kazan, add to the headache. It’s hard to even imagine what this fragile girl feels, on whose shoulders such a heavy burden has fallen. And the fact that in the current circumstances she finds the strength to continue to fight deserves the deepest respect.
An example of such a fight today is the quadruple sheepskin coat. A fall on this element, I believe, was an expected outcome, since he was trained quite a bit before Kazan. It is unstable and not well-known, but it definitely needs to be jumped at competitions so that there is a chance to roll it out for the Russian Championship. Because without ultra-c, Kamila most likely will not be able to compete with her colleague in Eteri Tutberidze’s group, Adelia Petrosyan, who is currently the only adult Russian figure skater who consistently performs quadruple jumps and/or triple axels. And this alone suggests that Camila wants to fight even in difficult conditions for herself, which, of course, cannot but admire.
Another example of the fight, judging by the video from the broadcast, Camila slightly injured her leg during a six-minute warm-up. It was not possible to clarify this point, since the athlete this time refrained from communicating with the press, but from her facial expressions it seemed that she was experiencing pain. Still, she did not withdraw from the competition and skated her free skate.
Unfortunately, not without errors. The key moments from Camila’s performance were the recorded fall on the choreoslide and the repetition of the sequences, and it was they who cost her the medal. Judge for yourself – taking into account the penalty point for the fall and negative GOE, Kamila lost about 3.5 points on this element. In addition, the component score would also increase (currently, according to the rules, judges are prohibited from scoring components above 8.75 in the case of two or more serious errors), which would elevate the champion to at least third place with a minimal gap from Alina Gorbacheva, who is in second position ( 219.02).
Next – sequences (that is, combinations of jumps with an increased interval between elements, most often the second or third is a double axel). According to the current regulations, a free program cannot have more than one such element, while Kamila had two in her official entry. The athlete's team had to realize that if they performed the jumps in the second sequence, the jumps in the second sequence would be reset, and this would be a loss of at least five points only for the base cost of the elements without taking into account GOE.
If Kamila had avoided this mistake, her result would have increased by 8 points .5, and this is according to the most conservative estimates. That is, she would have taken second place without question, and the gap from the winning Sofia Muravyova (228.81) could theoretically be reduced due to the increased components. And they would certainly have grown – at least due to the absence of a penalty for falling and a more advantageous impression against the backdrop of an almost error-free rental.
Therefore, one can understand Kamila and Eteri Tutberidze’s staff who were clearly not happy with the final scores. After the end of the competition, Eteri Georgievna, right in the arena, had a very animated conversation about something with the judges and Alexander Lakernik, one of the most influential people in the world of figure skating. And so animatedly that this moment was even captured by fan cameras.
And after the conversation, according to sources, Camila’s side was considering the possibility of filing a protest. Most likely, the formal reason for the claims could have been a fine on the dance floor – perhaps the coaches decided that the fall noted by the judges did not actually happen, which means that everyone’s favorite “input error” intervened, which can still be challenged. Maxim Trankov expressed the same idea live – and the big question is who was speaking at that moment, a commentator on Channel One or a coach working in Eteri Georgievna’s team?
But one way or another, things did not come to a formal protest. As you heard, after the competition the referees talked with Kamila and Sergei Dudakov. Perhaps it was then that all claims were settled. And with the release of the official protocols, it became clear that the fall was not noted by mistake, and protests cannot be filed against the results of the competitions themselves, as Lakernik said in a conversation with journalists:
“”The judges counted Valieva's (pictured) passage on the ice as a fall. She ended up having two falls. And with two falls, the components cannot be scored higher than 8.75. There can be no protest on the result.”
And this, by the way, is an interesting thing about the components. Alexander Rafailovich is clearly talking about the assessments of judge No. 1 of these competitions, Marina Suchkova, the only one of all who gave Valieva components in the range from 9.25 to 9.50, which is prohibited by the rules. The remaining six judges gave Kamila an acceptable score of 8.50-8.75 for all criteria. But the little oddities don’t end there – for example, four out of seven referees gave Kamila a “-3” for falling on the dance floor, while the rules oblige her to give a “-5”. This most likely indicates that even the judges did not have a consensus on how to classify this slide. This means that the initial emotional reaction of Tutberidze’s headquarters and the intention to challenge the results were still justified.
And yet Kamila conceded not because of this slide, but because of an error with the sequences. And here it is no longer possible to accuse judges of bias. On the contrary, it would be strange if they turned a blind eye to it. The tactical mistake of Valieva’s coaching staff, who miscalculated with an extra sequence, is obvious, and it is very surprising to write these lines about Eteri Tutberidze’s team, which previously benefited from the current rules to the maximum. The professionalism and mathematical precision with which they approach the development of technical content amazes and delights.
And then – what was it? And it’s certainly not Camila who should answer this question. She just wants to wish her strength and patience to get through this unfortunate streak.