Russian Olympic champ rises above snub from skating federation
Anna Shcherbakova thanked fans for their support after being shunned by the ISU
Beijing 2022 figure skating champion Anna Shcherbakova has said she received “kind messages from different countries” after being ignored by the International Skating Union (ISU) in a social media message celebrating ‘Olympic Day’.
Marking the international occasion on Thursday, the ISU shared a message which read: “Let’s #MoveForPeace on Olympic Day 2022! Time to celebrate a day that represents sport and connects people around the world! Share photos of you doing your sport and make sure to tag us!”
Accompanying the text were images of gold medal-winning stars from the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
Men’s king Nathan Chen of the US was pictured, as were Chinese Olympic pairs champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong.
French ice dance icons Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron also had pride of place as Beijing 2022 gold medalists.
Let‘s #MoveForPeace on Olympic Day 2022! ♀️⛸
Time to celebrate a day that represents sport and connects people around the world!
Share photos of you doing your sport and make sure to tag us! #FigureSkating #OlympicDay #Olympics pic.twitter.com/rXaPIfHauE
— ISU Figure Skating (@ISU_Figure) June 23, 2022
But conspicuous by her absence was Russian women’s champion Shcherbakova, who claimed gold ahead of countrywoman Alexandra Trusova with a spell-binding performance in Beijing.
Instead of Shcherbakova, bronze medalist Kaori Sakamoto of Japan was featured.
The ISU’s slight against Shcherbakova was soon picked up by fans, who questioned why the star should not be recognized on Olympic Day, even amid an ISU ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes because of the conflict in Ukraine.
Hello! Maybe you forgot your olympic champion☺️ pic.twitter.com/4CC2BPxB2q
— Tom Anyalina OGM Isabeau JWC (@zagitovarule) June 23, 2022
It’s very disappointing to find ISU dismissing Anna’s achievements at the Olympics just to be “politically correct”. She’s shown nothing but great sportsmanship and deserves to be recognized alongside the other gold metalists.
— LL (@munchieloves) June 23, 2022
Taking to social media on Friday, the 18-year-old Shcherbakova responded by thanking fans for their recognition – something distinctly lacking from the ISU.
“I am 18 years and 15 out of them I gave figure skating. I believe that everyone are [sic] equal in sport! After recent ISU post I received a lot of kind messages from people from different countries. Thank you very much! It means anyway sport unites,” wrote the skating star.
Attempting to justify its snub, the ISU told Russian media outlet RIA Sport that it is “supporting Olympic Day through posts on the official website and social media. The goal of this campaign is to inspire people to celebrate the power of sport through engaging sports images. This campaign highlights not only Olympic champions, but also other active figure skaters and speed skaters.”
A traditional powerhouse in women’s figure skating, Russia has found its stars sidelined from international competition after the ISU announced a blanket ban on March 1.
That meant Russian and Belarusian skaters missed the World Championships in France, and they will also be excluded from the 2022/23 Grand Prix season. The Russian stage of the Grand Prix series has also been scrapped.
Sports figures in Russia have pointed out that the absence of stars such as Shcherbakova, Trusova and teenage world record points holder Kamila Valieva will mean significantly diminished standards on the international circuit.
Instead, Russia is likely to organize its own tournaments in response to the ISU ban.