June 29, 2022

Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto won bronze in the women’s singles figure skating competition at Beijing Olympic, as Russian Olympic Committee skater Anna Shcherbakova took gold ahead of countrywoman Alexandra Trusova.

Thursday’s competition was overshadowed by the doping controversy involving the ROC’s 15-year-old star Kamila Valieva, who earlier on Tuesday topped short program but dropped to fourth overall following a mistake-riddled free skate at the Capital Indoor Stadium.

The International Olympic Committee with the legal fight stemming from Valieva’s positive drug test at December’s Russian national championships unresolved, mentioned that it would only give provisional status to the results if she finished on the podium.

That outcome was prevented after Shcherbakova, 17, put on a flawless free skate for a 175.75-point segment score and 255.95 total.

The 17-year-old Trusova scored 177.13 for a 251.73 total, while Sakamoto added 153.29 to her personal-best short program score of 79.84 to finish with 233.13, giving her second bronze of the games after also reaching the podium with Japan in the team event.

Fellow teammate Wakaba Higuchi, bronze medalist finished fifth on 214.44, while Japan’s other representative, Mana Kawabe, was 23rd with a total of 166.73.

The 21-year-old starting the day in third place gave another poised performance in the free skate.

Sakamoto hit all of her elements cleanly, opening with a double axel before nailing a triple lutz and a triple flip-double toe loop combination. The season-best routine provisionally moved her to second before she was overtaken by Shcherbakova.

Valieva after commanding performances in both team competition segments and in Tuesday’s short routine fell multiple times on the way to a score of 141.93 and a 224.09 total on Thursday.
2018 world championship runner-up Higuchi, skating to music from the Lion King nailed her opening triple axel but fell on the second part of a triple lutz-triple toe loop combination.

The event also saw the Olympic debut of 17-year-old Kawabe, opening with a triple axel downgraded, but falling on her next jump, a triple lutz. She recovered to complete the rest of her elements, including a double axel-triple toe loop-double toe loop combination, on the way to 104.04.