Kamila Valieva – the Russian ice-skating prodigy who has been at the centre of a doping scandal – will go for gold in figure skating today.
But ahead of one of the most controversial Olympic finals ever seen, figure skating analyst Jackie Wong addresses five key questions about her.
Wong will have a front row seat in Beijing as the 15-year-old competes for one of the top spots in the individual competition.
If she finishes in the top three there will be no medal ceremony until her doping case is resolved which could be months down the line.
Is she going to win?
“The likelihood of her being in the top three is almost certain. She’s been nothing but solid and strong and sometimes flawless in what she has been doing over the past season. I think it could go one of two ways, one way is that she skates flawlessly or near flawlessly. The other way is that she somehow lets that pressure and vulnerability get to her right in the middle of her programme and it completely falls apart. So, you either get 100% Valieva or you get 0% Valieva. I thoroughly expect her to walk away being first. Whether or not she actually gets the medal we will see after all of the doping samples and all of the legal battles come in over the next few months.”
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It is next for Kamila Valieva?
We haven’t heard from her yet – why?
“They basically withdrew her from the press conference, (on Tuesday). I have covered plenty of figure skating competitions in my lifetime and it’s the first time I have ever seen anyone refuse a press conference….I expect that to be the case again if she ends up on the podium later.”
Image: Jackie Wong is a figure skating expert
What has it been like watching her in the arena?
“Bizarre is the way to put it. It was really something that I have never seen before. On one hand you have got Kamila and her teammates and Russian staff. Everyone in the arena who is supporting her are cheering and being very supportive to her. On the other hand, it is all the folks who completely disagree with the decision of her competing at the Olympics and just basically being completely silent. You don’t really notice that because the cheering was fairly loud – so it felt like the entire arena was behind her but in reality if you looked around it was very divided.”
Do we know what routine she will be skating?
“It is going to be exactly the same as what she has been doing the entire time – three quads and a triple axel and it will be the second most difficult programme that will be done. She’s been skating almost that same layout for the whole season.”
How is she coping with it?
“Certainly, a lot of people’s views of her are now tainted, we have always known she is a massive, massive talent and you think about the last few years and what could have been a month of doping or what could have been a few years of doping. Basically supplementing her body with medication that allows her to train at a higher capacity. Figure skating is about reps and consistency – if you are practising with extra oxygen help or whatever it leads to a different playing field so when you watch her….you think about her accomplishments in a very different light.”
Source : Sky News