Kamila Valieva made a mistake on her first jump, but the 15-year-old Russian phenom still leads after the women’s short program on Tuesday at the Beijing Olympics.
Valieva was given the green light to compete by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after a positive drug test for a heart medication.
The heavy favourite in the event, Valieva was visibly emotional after the program, holding her hands to her face.
Valieva didn’t land her opening triple axel cleanly, stepping out but not falling. She scored 82.16 points.
Fellow Russian Anna Scherbakova is second and Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto is third.
Canada’s Madeline Schizas is 20th.
During her final run-through, Valieva looked confident and calm in a glittering purple dress, although she fell hard on a triple axel during the session.
Valieva was cleared a day earlier by the Court of Arbitration for Sport following a hearing into a positive drug test that surfaced the previous week.
The doping case has caused havoc with one of the marquee events of the Beijing Olympics and left Valieva worn out. She told Russian state broadcaster Channel One in comments shown Monday night that “these days have been very difficult for me. I’m happy but I’m tired emotionally.”
One of her lawyers said the heart medication that triggered the positive test came from a contaminated cup that the 15-year-old used after her grandfather.
Valieva is looking to add to the gold medal she won in the team event. She had a dazzling performance in which she landed the first quadruple jumps by a woman at the Olympics.
The free skate is Thursday.
The IOC says they will not award medals if Valieva is on the podium as the positive test is still to be investigated.
The court’s decision was to uphold the lifting of her provisional suspension.
— With files from the Associated Press