DENVER — After a Russian ice skater was disqualified from the 2022 Beijing Olympics for doping, the U.S. Figure Skating team — including Colorado athletes — will now receive gold medals for the team event.
The skaters on Team USA learned of the news on Monday, according to the Associated Press. This marks the first team Olympic gold medal in U.S. Figure Skating history.
Members of U.S. Figure Skating and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) held a press conference on Tuesday, where they expressed their gratitude for the decision.
"As you can imagine, it's a very exciting moment in time for the Team USA Figure Skating team, but more importantly for the principles of Olympic sport and clean sport and fair play," USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said. "And it's a really important moment for all of us. And right now, this is about celebration. It's about acknowledging accomplishments, recognizing extraordinary achievements, but also having hope and having hope that a system is growing and improving in ensuring that all athletes from around the world can count on showing up to compete on a level playing field and fair play."
U.S. Figure Skating CEO Tracy Marek thanked each team member for their patience throughout the last 721 days as they waited for the decision from the Court of Arbitration for Sports.
"We want to be sure to celebrate this team and this incredibly historic moment. So what's important to us is that we remember these athletes and their accomplishments and what it is that they have done to get to this point. So, let's remember Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou, Karen Chen, Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier, Madison Hubbell, Zachary Donohue, Madison Chock, and Evan Bates," Hirchland said, listing off the U.S. Figure Skating athletes.
She said the group of nine have always been champions, but now they can be finally recognized as Olympic gold medalists.
Team captain Chock said the team would love a medal ceremony at the Paris Games this summer.
"That would be the dream scenario," she said. "And to be able to stand atop a podium at an Olympic event and be there with our families and just to celebrate and be surrounded by the Olympic spirit and the Olympic movement would be our dream scenario."
Both Frazier and Zhou, 23, have deep Colorado ties — Frazier's hometown is Colorado Springs and Zhou lives long-term in the Springs to train, but also calls California home. Zhou graduated from Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs in 2017.
Frazier and his skate partner Alexa Knierim, of California, won gold at the 2022 World Championships in Montpellier, France, which came on the heels of the 2022 Olympics, where they placed third in the short program segment, fifth in the free skate segment, and sixth in the pair event, according to the AP.
Their efforts helped the team bring home the team silver — which has now been upgraded to gold.
The AP reported that they are taking the season off from competition, but may return for the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics.
Zhou is a two-time Olympian and has a record to show for his hard work to earn those spots. As a child, he was fierce in skating competitions and by 13 years old, he had won three national titles, according to his website.
He went on to win multiple gold and silver medals from the the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Junior Grand Prix, and Junior World Championships.
He spoke openly about the process that led to Monday's decision, saying he felt forgotten and noting the cost of the wait. In a statement, he spoke about the "significant economic costs associated with not receiving an Olympic medal."
On Tuesday, the International Skating Union published an amended standings from the 2022 Beijing Olympics, the AP reported. Russian skater Kamila Valieva, 15 at the time of the Olympics, had tested positive for trimetazidine in a sample taken on Dec. 25, 2021, at the Russian national championships, the AP reported. Testing at a World Anti-Doping Agency-approved laboratory was delayed due to staffing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the AP, and there were many proceedings and appeals before Monday’s decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sports.
This decision removed points that Valieva had earned. She has been banned from competitions until December 2025. Russian officials said they will appeal, the AP reported.