Kamila Valieva Stole the Show With Her Team-Event Short Program

What an Olympic debut for 15-year-old Kamila Valiyeva. 👏#WinterOlympics | 📺 NBC and @peacockTV pic.twitter.com/TIKuBuY6aE

— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 6, 2022

The expectations were sky high for Kamila Valieva's first short program at the 2022 Olympics, and to no one's surprise, she delivered. Competing for the Russian Olympic Committee on Feb. 5, Valieva was the headliner for day two of the team competition, which saw individual women skaters take the ice for the first time in Beijing. Valieva holds the world record in the women's short program and was the heavy favorite to place first. And with the pressure on and the spotlight shining, Valieva did just that.

As a figure skater, Valieva is the complete package, combining elite jumping abilities with such elegance that she appears to float across the ice. She couldn't show off her trademark quad jumps in this routine (quads aren't yet allowed in the women's short program), so Valieva settled for becoming only the fourth woman to land a triple axel at the Olympics. She hit all of her jumps with her arms above her head, adding to the difficulty and pushing her point total even higher. Valieva looked emotional as she spun to the finish after a nearly flawless skate. When her score of 90.18 came through, it was just 0.27 points shy of her short-program world record set last month at the European Championships.

It was a shining moment for Valieva to make her Olympic debut, and important for Team ROC in the standings as well. Valieva's first-place finish (ROC's first of the team competition) gave the ROC 10 points, pushing it into gold-medal position ahead of Team USA after American Karen Chen placed fifth. Those points will be crucial with the long programs and free dance still to come. Valieva's routine also gave us a taste of what's ahead in the women's individual competition, where she'll again be favored for gold — especially if she continues to make difficult programs like that look so easy.