Alexandra Trusova did something that may become the standard for figure skating at the Olympics. But it’s what she didn’t do that may have cost her gold.
Prior to the first Sunday of the Beijing Winter Olympics, no woman had ever completed even one quadruple jump on Olympic figure skating ice. That changed with Russia’s Kamila Valieva in the team event, who did two.
On Thursday, fellow Russian Alexandra Trusova skated her free skate program also looking for history. No woman had ever attempted five quadruple jumps in an Olympic competition.
But Trusova was also competing with her own expectation of what it means to be winner. Basically — if you’re not first, you’re last.
“Winning is first place. Everything else is losing,” said NBC figure skating commentator Tara Lipinski, relaying a quote she heard from Trusova. “She has a relentless drive. She’s forever chasing the win, never backing down from anything. And definitely not from a quad.”
Despite landing every one of those quad jumps, it wasn’t enough to overtake teammate Anna Shcherbakova for the gold medal.
After the competition was over, cameras caught Trusova in what is known as the “kiss and cry” area. And there were tears from Trusova. And there was unmistakable anger.
“I hate this sport,” she shouted at the side of the rink. “I won’t go onto the ice again.”
Trusova said she was happy with the skate but not with the result, an apparent jab at he judging that gave Shcherbakova enough extra points for artistry to keep her ahead.
“I am not happy with the result,” said Trusova. “There is no happiness.”
Lipinski and fellow commentator Johnny Weir were wowed by Trusova’s unprecedented show of athleticism and technical skill as she was skating. But they also brought up the importance of including more artistry.
“She really makes zero effort at the artistry. It’s very nuts-and-bolts and all about the jumps,” said Weir. “You’ve got to have the combination of both in this sport.”
“I don’t think she even cares to pretend the component score matters for her programs. The focus is all on the jumps,” said Lipinski.
Another thing Trusova appeared angry about is that she will leave Beijing as the only one of the three Russian women without a gold medal. Valieva skated both the short and long programs of the team event, which the Russians won. Shcherbakova then won her own gold.
But Valieva’s team gold is in question due to the doping controversy surrounding her positive test from December. Depending on the outcome of any investigations, the Russians could be stripped of the team title.
Trusova later said her comments about not skating again had been “emotional”, the result of missing her family and her dogs, but didn’t commit to compete at next month’s world championships.