Figure skating officials are probably breathing a lot easier now, much relieved that embattled Russian Kamila Valieva failed to make the podium in the Beijing Winter Olympics’ women’s figure skating competition on Thursday. The 15-year-old at the centre of a doping controversy was unable to build on her brilliant performance in the short programme two days ago, scoring 141.93 points to finish fourth behind compatriot Anna Shcherbakova, whose 175.75 in Thursday’s free skate was enough for gold with a total of 255.95. Another Russian, Alexandra Trusova, took silver on 251.73 with the highest score of the day, 177.13, while Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto won bronze on 233.13. As the last skater out of 25, Valieva needed to score better than 173.79 to take gold, but she fell twice and left the floor looking disappointed as the audience gave her a loud cheer. Valieva was seen sobbing in the kiss-and-cry area after her scores were read. 2-time Olympic champion Kati Witt from Germany felt heartbroken for #Valieva 💔 #BEIJING2022 pic.twitter.com/WfgauC4Veq — DW Sports (@dw_sports) February 17, 2022 Had she won a medal, the International Olympic Committee said it would not hold a flower ceremony because she tested positive for banned angina drug trimetazidine on December 25, with the results only revealed on February 8. She successfully appealed against a Russian Anti-Doping Agency decision to impose a provisional suspension and the decision was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport despite appeals by the IOC and world anti-doping agency Wada. The court said her age and the timing were factors in their decision, saying she cannot be treated the same as adults. There was sympathy for Valieva online with America’s 2014 Olympic figure skater Polina Edmunds writing on Twitter: “Very traumatizing Olympic experience for Kamila Valieva. She should not have been allowed to compete, it’s devastating that she was put in this situation, on all levels.” Author Charlotte Clymer, who has more than 378,000 Twitter followers, said: “My heart breaks for this young woman. She’s 15. She has not been treated right by the adults in her life. “For whatever you might think of Kamila Valieva being permitted to compete (she definitely should not have been permitted), remember that she’s 15. She’s a child.” Shcherbakova gracefully finished her routine on the ice with two quadruple jumps while Trusova put on a sensational routine with multiple quadruple jumps. Earlier, Miho Takagi took Japan’s gold tally in the Games to three after she won the women’s 1,000m speedskating event in an Olympic record 1:13.19. After three silver medals in Beijing, Takagi finally broke through for gold, with the Netherlands’ Jutta Leerdam taking silver 0.64 of a second behind, and American Brittany Bowe finishing with the bronze. The Nordic combined team event came to an end after a nearly hour-long 20km cross-country ski with Norway taking gold in dominant fashion, followed by Germany with silver and Japan with bronze. China were last. The Norwegians now have 14 golds to stretch their lead at the top of the Beijing 2022 medals table. It was the country’s third Olympic gold medal in the team competition, four years after winning silver in Pyeongchang. Their final time was 50:45.1, with Germany finishing in 51:40.0, Japan in 51:40.3. Sandra Naeslund, of Sweden, meanwhile, is the new ski cross champion. In a final filled with drama, Fanny Smith – one of the favourites – crossed the line third but was relegated out of the medals after being penalised for making contact. She takes fourth place in the overall ranking with a ranked-as-last penalty in the big final. Canada’s Marielle Thompson won silver and Germany’s Daniela Maier bronze. Two-time Olympic gold medal skier Mikaela Shiffrin’s troubles in technical races – her speciality – continued in the Alpine combined. Fifth after the downhill, she slid off-course after hitting a bump in the snow during the slalom. She has failed to win a medal so far in Beijing.