Beijing – Kamila Valieva was only seven years old when she watched her Russian compatriots win gold in the inaugural figure skating team event at the 2014 Sochi Games, dreaming that she would become an Olympic champion one day.
Eight years later, her dream came true.
The 15-year-old on Monday became the first woman to land quadruple jumps at the Olympics, helping the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to its second gold medal of the Beijing Games.
“When I was three years old, I made a wish to become an Olympic champion,” Valieva said after her free skate at Beijing’s Capital Indoor Stadium. “My childhood dream has come true.”
Performing to Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero,” Valieva beautifully executed a quadruple Salchow to open her free skate, then landed a quad toeloop in combination before falling on another attempted quad toeloop.
Although she was pleased about her gold medal with the team, Valieva said she still needed to fine-tune her free skate to land her second quad toeloop during the singles event.
Valieva is favourite to win gold in the women’s event, which would continue the line of phenomenal Russian teenage skaters at the Olympics.
“The first Olympics I watched were the Sochi Games,” she said. “I remember that I especially liked Yulia Lipnitskaya’s free skate. Then the Olympics were in Korea (Pyeongchang), where I cheered for Evgenia (Medvedeva) and Alina (Zagitova). And now it’s my turn to experience such emotions.”
Quads for the podium
Valieva and team mates Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova are coached by Eteri Tutberidze, known for raising young skaters with an unmatched ability to perform intricate elements.
The Russian teen trio’s training regimen is a mystery, but Ithaca College biomechanics expert Deborah King said the young women’s smaller stature could be helping with their jumps.
“Being fairly petite helps,” she said. “Narrow shoulders, hips … so not having matured yet can help because that’s going to help your rotation speed a lot.”
She added, however, that a quad jump requires height and a quick rotation, which in turn requires spring and power.
Canadian Kurt Browning landed the first quadruple toeloop in 1988, and the last quad to be conquered was the quadruple loop in 2016, by Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if this was an Olympics where all the ladies on the podium did quads, which would be huge,” King said.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.