US skaters make last-gasp court bid to get Olympic silver medals
United States figure skaters made an 11th-hour court bid on Saturday to get their Beijing Olympics team silver medals after they were held back because of the Kamila Valieva doping scandal.
The skaters are challenging the International Olympic Committee's decision that the medals cannot be awarded until the 15-year-old Russian's case has been investigated.
It would be the first time that medals for an event have not been awarded at the Olympics.
Their appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was expected to take place in the Chinese capital on Saturday, 24 hours before the closing ceremony, CAS director general Matthieu Reeb told AFP.
The team members include Nathan Chen, who was also the singles title gold medallist.
Valieva played a starring role in helping the Russian Olympic Committee win the team title early in the Beijing Games, producing a dazzling performance as she became the first woman to land a quadruple jump in Olympic competition.
Japan finished third and Canada were fourth.
Valieva was informed the day after the conclusion of the team event that she had tested positive in December for a banned substance but CAS ruled she could still take part in the Olympics singles event.
However it did not clear her of doping and she faces further investigation.
The IOC said it could not award the team event medals until that process has run its course and the body's president Thomas Bach said on Friday he had held talks with the American skaters and offered them Olympic torches to take home until the medals could be awarded.
Valieva has returned home to Russia to a hero's welcome, after finishing fourth in the individual event. She had been expected to win the singles title but the controversy surrounding her appeared to take its toll as she fell several times during her routine.
She tested positive for trimetazidine, a drug used to treat angina but which is banned for athletes by WADA because it can boost endurance.
Valieva's predicament has focused attention once more on Russian athletes at Olympic Games and the IOC's decision to allow Russians supposedly clean of doping to participate.
They are taking part in Beijing under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee because Russia as a country is serving a two-year ban as punishment for a state-sponsored doping programme
- Shiffrin made to wait -
High winds forced the postponement of the last alpine skiing event at the Games and made for treacherous conditions on a bone-chilling penultimate day of action.
US ski star Mikaela Shiffrin's hopes of ending her disappointing Olympics on a high were blown off course with the mixed team parallel forced back to Sunday.
But more wind is forecast for Yanqing, north of Beijing, on the final day and if it ends up being cancelled it would be only the second time in Winter Olympics history that an event could not take place during the Games.
The last, according to AFP's database, was the 10,000 metres speed skating event at the 1928 St Moritz Games.
The team parallel is the last opportunity for Shiffrin, who won slalom gold in 2014 and 2018, to leave China with a medal.
The strong winds also forced the cross-country skiing men's 50-kilometre mass start to be shortened to 30km. Added to the mix were temperatures of minus 17 degrees Celsius (1.5 Fahrenheit) in the mountains.
Britain's Andrew Musgrave called the decision to reduce the length of the race "absolutely ridiculous".
- Kiwi defies elements -
Nico Porteous defied the elements to claim only New Zealand's second gold in Winter Games history and in the process ended American David Wise's eight-year reign as freeski halfpipe champion.
Snowboarder Zoi Sadowski Synnott had given New Zealand their first ever Winter Olympic gold earlier in the Games and Porteous made it two with an inspired first run at Genting Snow Park.
The 20-year-old came out on top in a wild final battered by high winds, but also took a tumble on his final run that left him bleeding from his ear and nursing a sore shoulder.
But he had already done enough to win thanks to his first-run score of 93.00 and he was given a congratulatory haka by his New Zealand team-mates.
"In our sport, especially on a day like today, it's anyone's game," said Porteous.
The competition featured several high-impact wipe-outs in the tricky conditions, including one on the last run for American Aaron Blunck that delayed Porteous's celebrations.