LADIES FIGURE SKATING DEBACLE AT THE OLYMPICS 2022
For the people who read just the headlines, I’m here to tell you that every aspect of what happened with the ladies’ Figure Skating competition at the recent Olympics is heartbreaking. And strange.
I’ve had extra time to ponder it since the beginning of that debacle because just as I started writing this article, Russia invaded Ukraine, and my heart went out of writing anything at all. And now that I’m back working, my opinion of what happened at the Olympics has not changed in all this time.
So here’s the quick story, and all its ramifications:
Fifteen-year-old Russian, Kamila Valieva, the best and loveliest female skater I’ve ever seen, (John Curry is the greatest, period,) had won every competition she entered this season, so therefore, she was more than expected to win the Olympics, as well. Her beautiful quadruple jumps paired with her stunning artistry is a combination no one else comes close to. (Her two seventeen-year-old countrywomen, more aptly country-girls, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova, come the closest, but always fall many points short of Kamila.)
So at the Olympics, the new-ish Team Event was up first. Kamila skated beautiful short and long programs to help Team ROC (Russian Olympics Committee*) take the gold. No surprise there. *[Note.: The Russian athletes have to be known as the “Russian Olympic Committee,” as opposed to “Russia,” due to a ban on the country for their shameful state-sponsored doping program that was discovered about five years ago.]
Then, a few days before the ladies’ competition was due to begin, it was announced that on Christmas Day, right after the Russian Nationals, Kamila had tested positive for a banned heart medication. The testing results had been delayed because of a backlog, so it was just discovered at that late date, in February.
The debate about whether or not she should be banned from competing at the Olympics went on for days, with different governing bodies going back and forth on how to handle the situation. But in the end, since there was no time for the young girl to mount a defense for an official hearing, it was decided to let her go on and compete.
Despite being only fifteen, with the weight of the world, (and her evil country,) on her young shoulders, she was somehow able to perform perfectly, and she won the Short Program. That only made some people’s outrage increase.
The boneheads at the Olympics, not really knowing how to handle this un-precedented dilemma, announced there would be no medal ceremony if Kamila came in first, second, or third, thinking this stupid decision would help anything or anyone, when, in actuality, it would only hurt everyone involved.
Meanwhile, the horrific commentators, former skaters Johnny Weir, (of whom I had always been a fan up until then,) and Tara Lipinski, (who had competed on the senior level for only three years before she retired from competition at just age fifteen!, so she was barely ever in this particular rat race to be able to comment on it,) were absolutely repugnant. They went on every Olympics broadcast, with holier-than-thou attitudes and faces that were trying very hard to show disappointment, to register their disgust. With a fifteen-year-old girl who most likely had no idea what “supplements” she was taking!!!
Johnny deemed it “a tragedy” that Kamila was allowed to compete. I hope that he never finds out what a tragedy really is, but this was not even close. (He loves to tout his close ties to everything Russian, so I wonder what he has to say now!) I really wanted to tweet at him, “No, a tragedy is your unfortunate outfits and fake hair-dos, that’s what a tragedy is,” but I held back because, especially with the impending Russian evil against Ukraine, I didn’t want to use the word “tragedy” in vain.
But the worst part of their odious words was their answer when NBC host Mike Tirico asked them if a fifteen-year-old girl would really even be aware of the exact substances she was ingesting. And they both very stupidly answered with words to this effect: “Of course! Whenever I was sick, my mother would call my coaches or a hotline to find-out what I could take.” So the answer is not yes, it’s a definite no! They said it themselves—they had their mothers call someone else to get the okay on medications!!! That makes the responsibility fall at least twice removed from themselves!!! They asked their moms who asked the coaches or an obscure someone at a hotline, and who knows where any of those grown-ups got the final word from!!! Johnny and Tara basically admitted that they themselves as skaters had to trust the adults in the room! All the while blaming young Kamila Valieva for doing exactly what they did when they were competing!!!
So their entire premise was wrong! Idiots. They should have stuck up for her, and explained how it is for adolescent skaters, instead of getting on their high horses against her personally.
They must have gotten a lot of flak for their high-handedness because, after multiple interviews with them acting like that, a few days later, all of a sudden, and with absolutely zero apologies, they started saying the fault may have lain with her coaches or sports federation or some other Russian entity. They had to state that because…her coaches were being investigated for the offense!!!
Also all of a sudden, Johnny, who had been proudly, and often, broadcasting his friendship with Kamila’s coach, Eteri Tutberidze, (who coaches just about all the Russian young ladies,) began ragging on her. That’s what he should have done to begin with!!!
My feeling on the entire situation is that Kamila Valieva was a pawn, of the coaches and Russia, where everyone’s very lives seem incumbent on succeeding. (By the way—the meds may have aided her stamina, but not her grace nor athletic ability.) And everyone should have been sympathetic to her, rather than vilifying a teen-age star, and a very young teen at that! It did turn-out to be a tragedy of sorts, but for only her!
That’s because, after nary a bobble in her skating for at least six months, she fell all over the place in her Long Program, which is what almost always decides the medalists. She stumbled or fell outright around four times! (My hands were over my face after the first one, so I didn’t count. And I can’t bear to watch it again.) I can just about guarantee that that never would have happened if she had not had all that pressure on her. (And, by the way, I don’t know what the right thing for the Olympics to do was in this case. I tend to agree that yes, she should have been allowed to skate, and decide the issue later, but for once, I don’t feel strongly one way or the other. But I do think that every statement about the possible ban should have included that Kamila is a minor, in Russia, too boot, so she should not be the one blamed for the drug(s) in her system.)
Because of that calamitous skate, she went from first place to fourth, and came away with no medal. And creepy Johnny Weir actually said “thank God” that now there would be a medal ceremony because Kamila didn’t make the top three, with nitwit Tara echoing “thank goodness.” Morons.
But there are at least two more super-sad things that happened after her skate. One would think that after such a shocking and devastating performance, her coaches would immediately take their skater in their arms and comfort her, correct?
Well, we’d all be absolutely wrong! Eteri Tutberidze not only did not hug her, but she berated Kamila and demanded to know why she “didn’t keep fighting!” I’m sickened by that woman. Maybe if she felt better about herself, by fixing her dreadful over-dried straw-like tresses, she would be nicer to others. Her behavior was sooo shameful that even International Olympics Committee President Thomas Bach made a rare statement about it, saying that he was “very, very disturbed” by the “chilling atmosphere” of Kamila’s coaches when she came off the ice. I promise, in all my years of watching every second of every Olympics since I was a kid, I’ve never, ever heard a higher-up say anything like that about a coach!
And, for the record, Bach also intimated that her coaches are probably the ones responsible, at least in part, for the banned substances in Kamila’s system. He said that “doping is very rarely done alone with the athletes” and that the “ones who have administered this drug in her body, these are the ones who are guilty.”
Perhaps even sadder was that absolutely no one—I repeat, no one!–was celebrating the seventeen-year-old girl who won the competition, fair and square, current World Champion Anna Shcherbakova! That poor girl stood in the backstage room, where the current top three sit during the competition, by herself, for at least ten minutes after winning! No one said a word to her. She just first sat there and then stood there, clutching a teddy bear tissue box, (so not even a real stuffed animal!,) looking confused. She never even smiled. After winning the Olympics! The team of the bronze medal winner, Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto, were all over their girl, hugging and celebrating her, but not one person was there for Anna. I was really sick to my stomach over it. I kept screaming at the TV, “Hug her, somebody!!!”
And then Anna’s terrible sportswoman Russian training mate, Alexandra Trusova, (who was carrying on because she erroneously thought that she should have won because she did more quadruple jumps, even though she has barely any artistry at all,) finally went back to that room, (where she was supposed to be sitting all along,) to congratulate Kaori, while totally snubbing Anna! So Anna had to go looking for someone with whom to celebrate the biggest win of her young life! It was all so incredibly sad. My heart broke for both Anna and Kamila. The only one who appeared happy at all was Kaori, (though from her pained “crying face,” we at first had no idea what she was feeling.)
One final note about Russian coach Eteri Tutberidze: It’s interesting that she made her only child, daughter Diana Davis, compete in Ice Dance rather than in singles skating, in which she was originally coaching the girl. Either Eteri knew Diana would never have that crazy level of athletic ability she forces her charges into, or she didn’t have the heart to torture her own flesh and blood, or she wanted her offspring to be away from the crooked, scandalous system she was using on her students. We’ll never know the answer, but it’s an intriguing little sidebar on the whole Russian problem.
Now it’s on to the upcoming World Championships, which take place in France during the week of March 21, 2022. As I had a feeling would happen, none of the skaters from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to compete there because most sports right now seem to think that cutting that country’s athletes out of competition will somehow negatively affect their country, forcing them to stop the heinous attacks on Ukraine.
But does anyone really think that Putin will care? He cares about only his insane, tyrannical, evil self!!! I feel terrible for all those poor kids who have trained their whole lives, and had to deal with Covid for two years of their young lives, and now this, all through no fault of their own. Every aspect of this situation is sickening to me.
By the way, in an interview in 2021, Kamila Valieva said that she hopes to become a psychologist after retiring from figure skating. Perhaps she should get a jump on that right now. She, and all of us, are in some need of the help at this terrible moment in time.