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Re-live every moment of the historic Olympic women's free skate

Re-live every moment of the historic Olympic women's free skate
Posted at 4:19 AM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-17 09:07:44-05

A woman had never landed a quadruple jump at the Olympics until Feb. 7, 2022.

Ten days later, we saw 10 quads attempted in the women's free skate at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

WATCH ON DEMAND: USA  |  NBCOlympics.com  |  Peacock

With two of those quads, Russian Olympic Committee skater Anna Shcherbakova added an Olympic gold medal to her 2021 world title. After an astounding and historic five quads, teammate Aleksandra Trusova earned the silver.

After the third ROC skater, Kamila Valieva, who was first in the short program, fell twice and was unsuccessful in cleanly landing any of her three quads, she finished in fourth.

It's Japan's Kaori Sakamoto who took the bronze medal.

Editor's note: Re-live the event as it unfolded in real time with our live blog updates below.

Group 1 feat. Schizas

The first of four groups will have seven skaters, followed by six in each group that follows. That's because the International Olympic Committee and International Skating Union decided 25 skaters would advance to the free skate, one more than typical, if Valieva is among the top 24, in light of the ongoing case surrounding her Dec. 25 positive test for trimetazidine that came to light on Feb. 8.

5:15 a.m. ET: Finland's Jenni Saarinen, who benefited from that rule, struggles through this Rachmaninov program, falling on her opening triple flip and two more jumps; starts the free skate off with 96.07 points and a 153.04 total.

5:23 a.m. ET: Great skate for Ekaterina Kurakova of Poland, who scores 126.76 points for a total of 185.84 that will move her up in the standings.

5:31 a.m. ET: A faulty free for Bulgaria's Alexandra Feigin, who under-rotates nearly all of her jumps and falls on a triple loop. She's into second with 100.15 points and a 159.31 total.

5:38 a.m. ET: Dutch skater Lindsay van Zundert ensures we're all awake and alert with sounds of a ringing telephone and a siren in her music. Kurakova continues to move up as van Zundert scores 116.57 points (175.81 total).

5:46 a.m. ET: If you were seeking a more popular tune, Estonia's Eva-Lotta Kiibus delivers with "Shadow" and "I'll Never Love Again" from the 2018 movie "A Star Is Born." One fall here and she scores 112.20 for a 171.75 total.

5:53 a.m. ET: Canada's Madeline Schizas finishes her Olympic debut with her fourth skate here (she repped Canada in both parts of the team event). Falls on her final jump, a triple loop, scoring 115.03 and moving into third (175.56).

6:01 a.m. ET: Skating for Switzerland, Connecticut-born Alexia Paganini finishes out this group with a performance two-time Olympian Johnny Weir calls "cautious." She's fifth for now with a score of 107.85 (168.91).

Current top three: Kurakova (POL), van Zundert (NED), Schizas (CAN)

Group 2 feat. Karen Chen

6:18 a.m. ET: Olga Mikutina starts the group. Fun fact: She was eighth at the 2021 World Championships for the highest placement by an Austrian woman in 24 years. After a handful of questionable jumps (under-rotations), she is into second with 121.06 points (182.20 total) and will do no worse than 19th here.

6:24 a.m. ET: Belarus' Viktoria Safonova closes in on longtime leader Kurakova, earning 123.37 points for a 184.83 total -- in second and 1.1 points from first.

6:32 a.m. ET: Azerbaijani Ekaterina Ryabova garners 118.15 points to "Notre Dame de Paris," one of the more familiar music selections in the skating world. She is fourth with a total of 179.97.

6:40 a.m. ET: Japan's Mana Kawabe, who earned a Grand Prix silver medal this season, is in ninth with 104.04 points (166.73 total). The 17-year-old under-rotated and stepped out of her opening triple axel attempt, and fell on both triple lutzes.

6:48 a.m. ET: Nicole Schott of Germany now, skating to "Rain, in Your Black Eyes," which some American fans may know from Amber Glenn's free skate the past two seasons. With a score of 114.52, she goes into fifth (179.93 total).

6:55 a.m. ET: The first of three Americans, Karen Chen, has had some standout, exquisite performances in her career -- even placing fourth at worlds twice -- but once again cannot seem to muster them at the Olympics. She puts her hand down on a triple loop, pops a triple lutz, falls on another triple loop and is fifth at the moment with a 115.82-point free skate and 179.93 total.

Current top three: Kurakova (POL), Safonova (BLR), Mikutina (AUT)

Group 3 feat. Mariah Bell, Alysa Liu

7:23 a.m. ET: Alrighty, ice has been resurfaced and we are back with the penultimate group. Eliska Brezinova -- sister of four-time Olympian Michal Brezina -- starts things off in a dress that an NBC colleague says "is fire." Finishes with a look of relief after falling twice later in the program. Falls down the standings into ninth with 111.10 for her free skate and a 175.41 total.

7:32 a.m. ET: Team USA's Mariah Bell takes the ice to k.d. lang's version of "Hallelujah." She brought this back for the Olympic season after it brought the house down at the 2020 U.S. Championships. The oldest woman in the field at 25 years old, Bell looks simply thrilled with how her Olympic moment went, as does best friend and men's Olympic gold medalist Nathan Chen from the stands. That should move her up from 11th in the standings. And she's clearly into the lead with 136.92 points and a 202.30 total. It was a nice, long reign for Kurakova, who jumps at least 13 spots from short program to the free skate.

7:39 a.m. ET: An emotional Anastasia Gubanova, who skated for her native Russia until this season when she began representing Georgia, has an Olympic moment of her own with a personal-best 135.58 points for this performance. She is just behind Bell with a 202.30 total.

7:47 a.m. ET: It has become clear we're nearing the end of this event -- aka seeing the top skaters in the world! -- as we've hit one impressive skate after another. South Korean Yelim Kim also looks elated with her triumphant performance, which earns 134.85 points for the lead (202.63 total).

7:54 a.m. ET: The final of the American trio, Alysa Liu, lands a triple axel on one foot (called under-rotated though). She seems to be loving every second of this program and the 16-year-old has made it clear she is enjoying officially being an Olympian. After a giant hug from teammate Bell after her program, Liu gets 139.45 points and is into first with a 208.95 total. Her triple lutz-triple toeloop that was intended to be in the second half of the program (for a 10% bonus) missed that mark by literally one second. No worse then eighth for her and 10th for Bell.

8:02 a.m. ET: Belgium's Loena Hendrickx, fifth at the 2021 World Championships, popped her final jump (a salchow), which costs her the lead. Regardless, she will have the highest Olympic figure skating finish by a Belgian woman. Into second behind Liu with a 136.70 score and 206.79 total.

Current top three: Liu (USA), Hendrickx (BEL), Kim (KOR)

Group 4 feat. Kamila Valieva

8:17 a.m. ET: South Korea's Young You kicks off this final group, which is half full of ROC skaters, to music from "Les Miserables." Under-rotates her triple axel attempt. "She's a very gentle jumper - that's the key to figure skating, to make it look easy even though it's so difficult," 1998 Olympic champ Tara Lipinski says. Guarantees herself sixth or better with 142.75 points and a total of 213.09.

8:25 a.m. ET: "IS THIS LION KING?!" a colleague exclaims as Japan's Wakaba Higuchi skates. And yes, yes it is -- specifically the 2019 live action version. The 2018 world silver medalist starts with a clean triple axel, then falls on her triple lutz-triple toeloop combo. Her score is 140.93 and she takes first (214.44 total).

8:34 a.m. ET: Quad alert! Trusova goes for all five of her planned quads in this "Cruella" soundtrack program and appears to fully rotate four of them. Takes a step out on her toeloop and her lutz was a quarter under-rotated. A personal best of 177.13 for this free skate and waaaay ahead of the field with a 251.73 total.

8:42 a.m. ET: Sakamoto has a strong skate but does not have a triple axel or any quads and is no match for the ROC squad. She earns 153.29 points in the free and moves behind Trusova with a 231.33 total.

8:49 a.m. ET: Reigning world champ Shcherbakova lands both her quad flips, plus six triples. She stays ahead of Trusova with 175.75 points for her free skate and a total of 255.95 points.

8:58 a.m. ET: Short program leader Valieva makes several surprising mistakes in this performance, falling twice and unable to cleanly land any of her three quad attempts. The 15-year-old looks absolutely dejected at the end of her performance. The performance gets 141.93 points and ends up fourth with a 224.09 total.

Women's figure skating medalists: Shcherbakova (ROC) - gold, Trusova (ROC) - silver, Sakamoto (JPN) - bronze