Many questions remain in women’s figure skating at the 2022 Winter Olympics, including: Will Kamila Valieva remain in first place? How many quadruple jumps will we see from Valieva and her Russian Olympic Committee teammates? How will the American trio fare?
And, perhaps most interestingly: Will there be a medal ceremony?
Those questions and more will be answered when one of the most controversial events in Olympic history ends with the women’s free skate.
Watch the women's free skate live at 5 a.m. ET Wednesday, Feb. 17, on USA Network and stream live on NBCOlympics.com and Peacock.
Sleeping in? Watch in primetime at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
Valieva leads after the short program (82.16). The 15-year-old is competing after the Court of Arbitration of Sport ruled earlier in the week that no provisional suspension would be imposed on her for a drug test that was positive for trimetazidine, a banned substance which could potentially allow athletes to perform at a higher heart rate for a longer period of time.
If she remains in the top three after the free skate, no in-venue flower ceremony will be held and no medal ceremony will be held, as decided by the International Olympic Committee.
In the team event earlier in the Games, Valieva became the first woman in Olympic history to land a quadruple jump. She attempted three in her free skate, successfully landing two. This time, she could become the first woman to land three quads in one Olympic program.
Valieva has been inconsistent in landing her jumps in practice sessions, though, since her Dec. 25 test came to light around Feb. 8.
Two other women are expected to attempt quads as well – ROC’s Anna Shcherbakova (80.20) and Aleksandra Trusova (74.60).
Reigning world champion Shcherbakova has two quads in her arsenal, while 2021 world bronze medalist Trusova has three and was the first woman to land each of them – as well as the first woman to land multiple in one program.
With any combination of her quads landed cleanly, Trusova should move ahead of Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto (79.84), who after the short program is the only skater standing in the way of an ROC sweep of the top three spots.
Currently eighth, American Alysa Liu (69.50) will attempt to break into the top five with her triple axel.
Teammates Mariah Bell (65.38) and Karen Chen (64.11) look to clean up mistakes from the short program and see if they can improve on their 11th- and 13th-place standings.