Canada skaters wait for Olympic medal that may not come
BEIJING (AP) — Canadian figure skater Madeline Schizas could end up a medalist at the Beijing Games, though she isn’t holding her breath for the results of the Russian doping scandal that has cast a shadow over figure skating at the Winter Olympics.
“I think everyone’s just kind of accepted that this is forever going to be part of our Olympic experience,” Schizas said. “But I mean, it will be a story to tell down the line.”
Schizas was part of the group of eight Canadian skaters who placed fourth in the team competition that happened the first week of the Beijing Games. The Canadians could be upgraded to the bronze medal if a doping investigation declares that Russia’s Kamila Valieva is disqualified for a positive drug test from before the Olympics.
“We didn’t medal in that event. At this point, we were in fourth. It was not an entirely successful team event for the Canadian team,” Schizas said. “We have not won a medal yet, we’re waiting on the outcome of the investigation. So once that happens, we’ll see where the pieces fall.”
The literal podium ceremony won’t be held at all before the skaters leave Beijing in a few days.
The figurative podium depends on the Valieva investigation. The 15-year-old sensation tested positive for a banned heart medication at the Russian championships in December.
“I feel for the athletes who are going to go home without medals, the ones who are not really wrapped up in this whole debacle, who have nothing to do with this. I feel for them,” Schizas said. “But at this point, it is what it is. These things happen. It’s our job as athletes to just kind of deal with them. I have a lot of empathy for the people going home without a medal. When you medal at the Olympics, that’s the moment you dream of.”
Karen Chen and the nine-person U.S. team are also waiting for their medals, the silver they won or, if Russia is disqualified, gold.
Chen said she wasn’t in the meeting with the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach when he offered U.S. figure skaters Olympic torches as holdover gifts while they await a resolution of the Russian doping case that will prevent them from receiving their medals.
No special ceremony has been announced for them to receive either the torches or their actual medals.
The Japanese team said they accepted a holdover gift from the IOC as well.
“I haven’t received it yet and don’t know what it is,” Japan’s Wakaba Higuchi said. “But if I receive it, I will be happy.”
All were supposed to get their medals last week and were already given boxes to store their hardware, when they learned the ceremony was off after the last-minute Valieva discovery.
The Americans will receive torches used during the traditional Olympic flame relay, which has already been given to team staff to be presented later to the athletes.
“It’s unfortunate that we aren’t able to get our medals,” Chen said. “I have yet to see the torch, but once that is, like, given to us, I think it will be such a special moment that we will cherish forever.”
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