© 2022 Innovation Trail
background_fid.png

At 15, Kamila Valieva just became the 1st woman to land a quad in Olympic history

Kamila Valieva skates during the women single skating free skating team event. She is the first woman to land a quad jump in Olympic history.
Matthew Stockman
/
Getty Images
Kamila Valieva skates during the women single skating free skating team event. She is the first woman to land a quad jump in Olympic history.

At 15, Kamila Valieva's hobbies include dancing, drawing — and setting world records.

On Monday, the teenage elite athlete landed one of the hardest jumps in figure skating — a jump that is so difficult, no other woman had ever landed it at an Olympics before — then she did it a second time.

The 15-year-old skater for the Russian Olympic Committee team landed a storied quadruple jump twice during the free skate portion of the team event Monday. Her performance helped her team nab the gold medal, the United States won silver, and Japan took the bronze medal.

Quadruple jumps require at least four, but fewer than five, revolutions and although they've become increasingly a staple in elite men's figure skating, one had never been successfully accomplished by a woman at the Olympics before Valieva's showing in Beijing.

She landed a quad salchow first, a jump in which a skater must lift off the ice with the inside edge of one skate, execute four revolutions in midair, then land cleanly on the outside edge of their other foot. Next, Valieva completed a quad toe loop with a triple-toe combination. She attempted a third quad but fell on the landing.

Valieva performed a difficult triple Axel as well, making her only the fourth woman to ever land that jump at a Winter Olympics.

Valieva also completed quad jumps during the ISU Grand Prix Rostelecom Cup in November of last year, where she set a world record score. She holds nine world records in the sport.

Other news from the Olympics this weekend

American alpine ski star Mikaela Shiffrin suffered a rare fall during the giant slalom, knocking her out of one of her best events. She still has four more Olympic events.

"The snow was just incredible to ski on. Oh my gosh, it's just really nice, but if you do any small errors, you really can't get away with it," Shiffrin said after the fall. "As you can see, I got the worst of it on that turn."

The snow is all man-made this year, and athletes are getting adjusted to its feel and consistency, all while competing on the highest levels.

It's relatively novel now, but artificial snow at the Olympics might soon be entirely the norm. Past Olympics in Pyeongchang, Sochi and Vancouver deployed artificial snow after unseasonably un-snowy weather. As climate change intensifies, experts say human-made snow is likely going to be a part of all future Olympic alpine events.

Members of the U.S. figure skating team celebrated their silver medals in the team event without American men's figure skater Vincent Zhou, who tested positive for COVID-19, officials announced Monday. Zhou helped earn the medals by competing in the team event on Sunday, before his positive test. He announced Monday that he will be unable to compete in the men's competition and will have to isolate until he tests negative on two consecutive PCR tests.

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai appeared in a carefully managed interview during the Olympics last week, her first sit-down interview since last November when she accused retired Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault during an on-and-off-again relationship. In the interview with French sports magazine L'Equipe, Shuai denied accusing Zhang of assault and announced she is retiring from professional tennis.

As NPR's Emily Feng reports, fans and officials globally became concerned about Peng's personal safety and freedom after she published her accusation against Zhang on social media, then disappeared for a while and couldn't be reached by tennis officials outside China. Zhang is a top Communist Party official and was crucial in securing Beijing's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.


This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.