Motivation fall at the last, leaving Desire as figure skating's top team

Picture by YIS / IOC Thomas Lovelock

When the Malaysian fell on a jump, “I just thought ‘Oh my God’. Because I could have done better, I could have scored higher and beat the Ukrainian [Ivan Shmuratko, Team Future]. I feel bad.”

His finish below Shmuratko cost Team Motivation the bronze medal – and meant Chew missed the opportunity to write a piece of history by becoming the first Malaysian medallist at any Olympic Winter Games. Team Motivation finished in fourth position with 18 points.

Chew explained that he was feeling nervous before skating, having twisted his right ankle during practice in the morning. “It affected my performance. When I fell it hurt a lot,” he said. Hearing the vocal support of the rest of his team, though – composed of Byun Ji Hyun of Republic of Korea, Russian pair Ekaterina Borisova and Dmitry Sopot of Russia, and Guoste Damuleviciute and Deividas Kizala of Lithuania – “boosted me, to the point that at the start I didn’t feel any pain in my leg”.

Skating close to perfection to Notre Dame de Paris, Dmitri Aliev, of Russia, took Team Desire to 23 points and the gold medal. , Aliev’s teammates were China’s Li Xiangning, Sarah Rose and Joseph Goodpaster of the USA, and Russian pair Anastasia Skoptcova and Kirill Aleshin.

“I’m very happy. We had a good team, I’m glad we all did very well. We had a very friendly team,” Aliev said. “I felt good going last. I was very focused and that’s why I was able to do well.”

Pairs skater Rose enjoyed the team atmosphere around the rink. “It was great having our teammates to cheer us on,” she said. “This is something we don’t ordinarily get to do in our sport, and it really adds a fun element to know there are people cheering us on.”

Her ice partner Goodpaster echoed her thoughts, saying: “It is great to have more teammates for once. We just met them yesterday, but they are all really cool.”

Russian pair Alina Ustimkina and Nikita Volodin perform their free programme during the mixed NOC team event on Saturday. Photo: YIS / IOC Thomas Lovelock

The silver medal went to Team Future, composed of Ivan Shmuratko of Ukraine, Latvia’s Diana Nikitina, Anna Duskova and Martin Bidar of Czech Republic, and French pair Julia Wagret and Mathieu Couyras.

Nikitina was satisfied with her performance in the ladies’ singles element of the competition: “It was really good and I did well,” she said. “My energy [level] was very high. Being on a team is very, very good. You have big energy and all of the team gives special support. They helped me believe in myself.”

Her teammate Shmuratko was less impressed with his own skating. "I was a bit nervous going last [in the men’s singles]. Being on a team is a lot of pressure,” he said. But the Ukrainian also expressed his delight at participating in the event. “This is the best team in this Olympic Games. Everyone is so friendly and having a good time. It makes it so much more fun."

Team Discovery (Deniss Vasiljevs of Latvia, Hungary’s Fruzsina Medgyesi of Hungary, Gao Yumeng and Li Bowen of China, and Canadian pair Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha) finished third

After a flawless performance that closed the competition, Vasiljevs said: “This is perfect. We are all so happy, we each did our jobs and did everything we could. We had the perfect Canadian dancers, the wonderful Chinese skaters and the beautiful lady from Hungary. Together we are perfect,” he said.

Ice dancer Lajoie said: “We were able to relax a little more than in our previous competition. This time we don’t have to think about ourselves as much. It’s a group effort, which puts less pressure on us.”

Her ice dance partner, Lagha, was also excited about the event. “This is a really good experience,” he said. “We are making a lot of friends from other countries and this event encourages us to talk to people we wouldn’t normally meet.”

Written by YIS / IOC Emma Lupano with IOC Young Reporter Emily Bayci

Emma Lupano is a reporter for the Lillehammer Youth Information Service ‘YIS’. Milan-based Emma has worked at the last five Olympic Games and also covered the Innsbruck 2012 and Nanjing 2014 YOGs. A China specialist, she has worked as a freelance journalist from Beijing for four years.