Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu competes in the men’s single skating free skating of the figure skating event during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on February 10, 2022. (AFP)

Yuzuru Hanyu’s defence of his Olympic title looked over after the Japanese figure skating icon fell twice in the Beijing final, as the IOC refused to comment Thursday on a reported doping case involving teenage Russian gold medallist Kamila Valieva.

Eight gold medals were up for grabs on the sixth day of competition in the Chinese capital, where Chloe Kim blitzed the opposition to retain her snowboard halfpipe title.

But Hanyu’s title defence looked doomed after he tumbled twice in the free skate, his score of 188.06 far short of his all-time best of 212.99.

After a shaky start on Tuesday in the short programme, where he finished eighth, the two-time Olympic champion needed to make up a gap of 18.82 points to his main rival, Nathan Chen of the United States.

Hanyu had pledged to perform a quadruple axel — a jump no skater has ever landed in competition — but failed to land it and fell to the ice.

He quickly rose but fell once more, before carrying on his “Heaven and Earth” programme with his usual polished precision.

Looking crushed as the music died down, Hanyu recovered and skated off the rink with his head held high. Chen was yet to skate.

Meanwhile his fellow American, the snowboard sensation Kim, took the first gold of the day as she gave a masterclass.

The 21-year-old had the halfpipe title in the bag after only the first of three runs, scoring a whopping 94.00 points to give her a virtually unassailable lead.

She clutched her helmet and fell to her knees after sliding into the finish area, then got back up and turned the rest of the competition into her own private victory lap.

She fell on her second run and received a hug from Californian-born Chinese freestyle skiing star Eileen Gu, who was watching at the finish area, before making her way back up the hill for her third and final attempt.

By then she already had the title wrapped up, and although she fell again on her final run, Kim celebrated with the other riders when she slid in to the finish area.

Spain’s Queralt Castellet took silver on 90.25 and Japan’s Sena Tomita claimed bronze on 88.25.

Kim became the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboarding medal when she won halfpipe gold as a 17-year-old at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

She took a two-year break from competition after her Olympic success as she struggled to cope with the pressures of fame.


But the action on the snow and ice was overshadowed after Russian media reported that 15-year-old figure skating star Valieva, who led Russia to team gold at the Games this week, tested positive for a banned heart medication before the Olympics.

The positive test could cost Russia the team gold and also threatens Valieva’s participation in the individual event that starts on Tuesday.

Russian athletes are competing in the Beijing Games as the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) after the country was banned because of a massive state-sponsored doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The sample in question was obtained before Valieva won the European championship last month, the RBC newspaper reported late Wednesday.

The drug detected is trimetazidine, a metabolic agent that is prescribed for the treatment of angina and vertigo, according to Kommersant newspaper.

It is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency because it can increase blood flow efficiency and help endurance.

The reports said the test result was the reason that the team medals ceremony was removed from its scheduled slot on Tuesday.

The Russians won the gold medal in the team competition with the United States taking silver and Japan bronze, but the ceremony did not take place as planned.

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said on Thursday an “active legal case” was under way concerning the medal ceremony and so he could not comment on the reports.

He said claims that the case concerned doping were “speculation”.

“We had a situation arise yesterday that has all sorts of implications,” he added.

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2022/02/10/hanyu-falls-twice-as-doping-report-overshadows-beijing-olympics/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hanyu-falls-twice-as-doping-report-overshadows-beijing-olympics)