Winter Olympics: Kamila Valieva lands historic quadruple jump

Kamila Valieva landed a quadruple salchow and a quadruple toeloop but fell on an attempt at another quadruple toeloop
Hosts: Beijing, China Dates: 4-20 February
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button and online; listen on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sounds; live text and highlights on BBC Sport website and mobile app

Russian 15-year-old Kamila Valieva became the first female figure skater to land a quadruple jump at an Olympic Games as she underlined her status as hot favourite for the women’s event.

Competing in the team event, where the Russian Olympic Committee had already sealed the gold medal ahead of the United States and Japan, she executed a wonderful quadruple salchow at the start of her free skate.

As someone who has set records nearly every time she has competed since making her senior debut less than six months ago, it was no surprise that she in fact landed a second quad later in the routine.

Quad jumps – featuring four rotations of the body mid-air – are still rare in women’s figure skating although Valieva has been performing them regularly in competition this season.

Even though she later fell on an attempt at a third quad, Monday’s performance scored 30 points more than the second-placed skater, Kaori Sakamoto, and came the day after she had announced her arrival on the Olympic stage with a short program that was just shy of her own world record score.

So, who is this teen sensation and what can we look forward to seeing at these Games?

Setting records from day one

At 15, you don’t get 231,000 Instagram followers unless you’re doing something special.

The high-scoring quads, coupled with a grace and elegance on her mesmerising spins, are how she has broken world records several times since making her senior debut last year.

Oh, and that debut at the CS Finlandia Trophy in October…. also a world record score.

She was too young to compete in last year’s World Championships but at the Europeans last month she became the first woman to score more than 90 points in the short program, setting a world record of 90.45 on her way to the title.

In her short program she is skating the routine in memory of her grandma, who died in 2019, and it is set to In Memoriam by Russian composer Kirill Richter. She said the feelings she has when thinking of why she is skating give her a lot of energy to perform.

Meanwhile, the long program that features all the quads is set to Ravel’s Bolero – pretty much an Olympic skating classic (if you’re British anyway) after Torvill & Dean’s 1984 ice dance gold.

Olympic champion and BBC commentator Robin Cousins says “the honesty with with she performs is so lovely”.

“There is joy in the performance as she’s doing it, it’s the expression, the extension. There is lift into the air into all of her jumps. The body doesn’t waver at all.

“I don’t know how they have this sensibility of performance, besides the technical prowess, at this age that is so honest and believable, it is extraordinary.”

Russian skating production line

Valieva is the latest in a recent line of young Russian female champions.

The past two Olympic champions were Adelina Sotnikova (17 at the time) and Alina Zagitova (then 15), while 2018 silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva (18) is also from the country.

And at the Europeans last month it was a clean sweep for Russians, with Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova (both 17) joining Valieva on the podium.

That trio, all trained by the same coach in Eteri Tutberidze, are also tipped to repeat that in Beijing in the women’s individual event.

“When you watch them you forget their age altogether. What you admire is the complexity of what they perform,” Russian ice dancer Nikita Katsalapov told a news conference.

And what about Valieva in particular?

“She is getting better from one performance to the other,” he replied.

And in her case, that usually means another record.

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