Two years after the last winter Olympics, Team USA has officially won its first gold medal in the team figure skating event.
During the Beijing Olympics in 2022, Team USA — Nathan Chen, Vincent Zhou, Karen Chen, Alexa Knierim, Brandon Frazier, Madison Chock, Evan Bates, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue — was awarded second place behind the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). However, the medal ceremony was canceled after news broke that ROC’s wunderkind skater Kamila Valieva, then 15, had tested positive for doping. (Valieva had scored the most individual points during her events, propelling the Russian athletes to first place.)
A hearing earlier this week ultimately disqualified Valieva’s scores after her use of illegal substances, meaning that Team USA would get the gold.
“It’s been very unexpected,” Chock, 31, said during a Wednesday, January 31, appearance on the Today show alongside several of her teammates. “We just didn’t have much information and people would always ask us. … I didn’t realize how much had been weighing on me, and probably, weighing on all of us, until we found [out] the news.”
She added, “It almost felt like a weight had been lifted to just feel this closure from the Beijing games.”
Knierim, 32, chimed in that the medal is a symbol of the group’s collective hard work through the years.
“It’s amazing, obviously,” Knierim, a pairs skater partnered with Frazier, gushed on Wednesday. “I’ve always felt like our team was a gold-medal team and it’s just so gratifying and fulfilling to have it be finalized and to sit here with my friends. We always knew that we were destined for greatness, but it’s great to really have it now.”
Ice dancers Chock and Bates, 34, who recently won their fifth U.S. championship earlier this month, appeared on Today alongside Knierim, Frazier, 31, and two-time gold medalist Nathan, 24. (Chock and Bates, who got engaged in June 2022, were the team’s co-captains during the Olympic skating event.)
“The Olympic career for most of us is not that long, so waiting two years has been really tough for a lot of us,” Bates said on Wednesday. “Most of us have moved on to other passions and so this decision has been monumental for our team, for clean support and for all the clean athletes who have lost their medal moments in the past because of people that have doped.”
Frazier also noted that the group are “still waiting on the specifics” regarding receiving their medals as Olympic committees are still meeting.