Medal update: Anna Shcherbakova captures Olympic title as Trusova claims silver; Sakamoto wins bronze

The reigning world champion Shcherbakova, 17, landed a pair of quadruple jumps to finish ahead of teammate Alexandra Trusova. Sakamoto Kaori wins the bronze medal. Kamila Valieva finished fourth.

By Nick McCarvel
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

World champion Anna Shcherbakova of the ROC is now Olympic champion, as well.

Shcherbakova turned in a sterling performance in the women's free skate at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Thursday (17 February) inside the Capital Indoor Stadium, skating to a personal best score of 175.75 to total 255.95, leaping to first place and capturing the gold medal.

The 17-year-old had sat in second place after the short program, but wins the Olympic title after completing two massive quadruple jumps in her free skate, including one in combination.

Training mate Alexandra Trusova won silver with 251.73 total, while Sakamoto Kaori of Japan claimed the bronze medal, scoring 233.13.

Short program leader Kamila Valieva stumbled in her free skate, finishing in fourth place overall.

Valieva struggled to stay upright on a quad Salchow and triple Axel to open her program, then fell on the back end of a quad toe-triple Salchow combination. She was fifth in the free skate, totaling 224.09 - 10 points shy of the podium.

The results are provisional.

"I was realising that I'm skating at Olympic Games but I still [don't] realise the result," the champion Shcherbakova told Olympics.com exclusively. "I need some time because I'm happy with my performance but I don't understand the result, I don't understand that the competition is over. I still feel like I need to compete."

She added: "I really like the feeling when you finish your program and you feel like, 'Wow, that was my best. Right moment, right place, and everyone saw what I can do.' This I think is why I am skating."

It marks the first time since Vancouver 2010 that the reigning world champion went on to win the women's Olympic title, when Yuna Kim did it.

Japan's Higuchi Wakaba landed another triple Axel to end up in fifth place overall with a 214.44, while Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020 champion You Young came in sixth with a 213.09.

Alysa Liu was the top American, scoring a 208.95 for seventh place.

See the full results from the women single event here.

Trusova (L), Shcherbakova and Sakamoto (R)
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Shcherbakova: 'That was my 100 percent;' Sakamoto's history for Japan

Before Shcherbakova took to the ice, Trusova attempted five quadruple jumps in her free skate, setting the bar high for the final three by earning 177.13 points - a score that would end up winning the free skate.

Trusova became just the second woman - after Valieva did so last week in the team event - to successfully land a quad jump at the Olympics: Her quad flip, Salchow, toe and two Lutzes are a feat that the sport has never quite seen before.

"I'm very glad that I completed five quadruple jumps," she told reporters. "It took me a long time to achieve this. I'm very proud of my accomplishment."

Sakamoto doesn't possess a quadruple jump, but turned in an emotional skate of her long program to follow Trusova, landing six triple jumps and earning 74.39 points in Program Components, second only to Shcherbakova.

Sakamoto joins Ito Midori (1992), Arakawa Shizuka (2006) and Asada Mao (2010) to become the fourth Japanese woman to win an individual Olympic medal in history.

"The first Olympic Games that I ever watched in my life was the gold medal won by Arakawa," said Sakamoto. "I still have that newpsaper clip decorated on my wall."

"It's a very big deal to win a medal at the Olympics. ... I cannot even believe that I can join the three of them. I cannot even say that I'm at the same level as them." 

No one was on the level of Shcherbakova, the penultimate skater, her opening two quad jumping passes setting the tone for a phenomenal skate, the reigning world champion having struggled throughout the season with different aspects of her skating, including a third-place finish at nationals in December.

She shone brightest when it mattered the most, adding five triples - including four in combination - to her quads and finished with her arms vaulted over her head, delighted in exultation.

Her scores put the pressure on Valieva, who stumbled out of the gates and could never recover, twice falling and never finding her skates underneath her.

The night - and the Olympics - now belonged to Shcherbakova, however.

"I never had a goal so forward about Olympic Games," she admitted. "Of course, I know that it would be the best for me, to compete here, to win this competition, but I didn't say to [myself that] that's my goal, 'I will win Olympic Games.' No. I just was working every day and trying to show my maximum in every competition. And I'm so happy that, right moment, right place, I did it, and that's my result."

She added: "That was 100 percent today. I left all my energy on the ice."

Full results

The full standings for the women single figure skating event can be found here.

1 SHCHERBAKOVA Anna ROC 255.95
2 TRUSOVA Alexandra ROC 251.73
3 SAKAMOTO Kaori JPN 233.13
4 VALIEVA Kamila ROC 224.09
5 HIGUCHI Wakaba JPN 214.44
6 YOU Young KOR 213.09

7 LIU Alysa USA 208.95
8 HENDRICKX Loena BEL 206.79
9 KIM Yelim KOR 202.63
10 BELL Mariah USA 202.30
11 GUBANOVA Anastasiia GEO 200.98
12 KURAKOVA Ekaterina POL 185.84

13 SAFONOVA Viktoriia BLR 184.83
14 MIKUTINA Olga AUT 182.20
15 RYABOVA Ekaterina AZE 179.97
16 CHEN Karen USA 179.93
17 SCHOTT Nicole GER 177.65
18 van ZUNDERT Lindsay NED 175.81

19 SCHIZAS Madeline CAN 175.56
20 BREZINOVA Eliska CZE 175.41
21 KIIBUS Eva-Lotta EST 171.75
22 PAGANINI Alexia SUI 168.91
23 KAWABE Mana JPN 166.73
24 FEIGIN Alexandra BUL 159.31
25 SAARINEN Jenni FIN 153.04

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