Valieva shines as Russians roll into team event lead
BEIJING – Kamila Valieva delivered a flawless short program to put the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in the lead before the final phase of the figure skating team event at the Beijing Olympics on Sunday.
The 15-year-old, who won the European championships last month in a Russian podium sweep, scored 90.18 points, 0.27 short of her own world record with tight spins and used the central part of the rink as she played to the judges.
ROC is on 38 points going into the final phase, which will see the top five teams skate their free programs.
It starts on Sunday with the men’s free skating, in which two-time defending singles champion Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, who has not yet been spotted in China, is not expected to take part.
The United States, who was leading after the first three short programs, slipped down to second on 36 points after Karen Chen finished a disappointing fifth.
Defending champions Canada, who had no real medal expectations, are fourth on 24 points, five behind third-placed Japan.
China is the last team to progress, on tiebreak ahead of Georgia after Zhu Yi suffered a meltdown and finished last.
The skaters in first place earned 10 points, those in second nine, down to one for the last and only the top five teams advanced to free skating.
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