U.S. figure skaters will be upgraded to gold medalists in the 2022 Olympic team event after the International Skating Union changed the results following the retroactive disqualification of Russian Kamila Valiyeva over a positive drug test from Christmas 2021.
In a statement, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee CEO Sarah Hirshland said she spoke with the IOC, which decides medalists (the ISU decides results), and received the news that the U.S. team has been awarded gold.
The ISU announced Tuesday that Valiyeva’s 20 points earned in the Olympic team event were stripped from the Russian Olympic Committee team’s total score.
The Russians’ score went from a leading 74 points down to 54 and behind the U.S. (65) and Japan (63), whose point totals were not changed. The U.S. moved up from silver position to gold and Japan from bronze to silver.
The Russian team, without Valiyeva, slotted into the bronze spot, one point ahead of Canada.
Canada would have passed the Russian team in points had the ISU rescored the individual women’s results within the team event after the disqualification of Valiyeva. While Valiyeva’s first-place points were stripped from both programs, the rest of the women’s skaters’ points were not upgraded.
In a statement, Canada’s skating federation said it “is extremely disappointed” in the ISU decision not to change the women’s points, argued that the ISU did not follow its own rules and will consider appealing.
The Russian Olympic Committee announced it is appealing the Olympic results change to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, arguing that sanctions against an individual athlete should not be the basis for reviewing the results of a team event.
Medals have yet to be awarded. The medal ceremony, which usually takes place shortly after Olympic competition, was postponed in February 2022 until Valiyeva’s case was adjudicated.
“The IOC welcomes the fact that the CAS ruling provides clarity in this case, and the athletes from the team figure skating competition at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 can finally get their medals, for which they have been waiting so long,” the IOC said in a statement Monday night, before the ISU announced the results change. “The IOC is now in a position to award the medals in accordance with the ranking, which has to be established by the International Skating Union (ISU). We have great sympathy with the athletes who have had to wait for two years to get the final results of their competition. The IOC will contact the respective (National Olympic Committees) in order to organize a dignified Olympic medal ceremony.”
The U.S. team that wins gold: Nathan Chen, Vincent Zhou, Karen Chen, Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier, Madison Hubbell, Zachary Donohue, Madison Chock and Evan Bates.
It will be the first gold for the U.S. in the Olympic team event, which debuted in 2014. Americans won bronze in the first two editions.
Nathan Chen, who later won the men’s singles gold, will become the first U.S. figure skater to win two gold medals at a single Games. He will be the second U.S. figure skater to win two gold medals in a career after Dick Button, the 1948 and 1952 singles champion.
Ice dancers Chock and Bates are the only Americans from that team still competing, having won last year’s world title and their fifth U.S. title this past Saturday.
Bates, who was 32 years old at the time, will be the oldest American to win Olympic figure skating gold. He was already the only American figure skater to compete in four Olympics.
“Through this entire saga, I think focusing on the positivity that this has been a victory for clean sport, albeit it was a difficult and arduous wait, we feel very grateful that this case has had due process,” Bates said. “There are so many clean athletes who historically have not had their moment, have not had the recognition that they deserved, whether that’s because of those doping didn’t get caught or because the case didn’t come to trial, or what have you. I mean, there are countless athletes in history, through the decades, that have not had the moment that we have just now had. So we’re extremely happy.”