figure skating

Why Women's Figure Skating Final Will Be Different From Others at the Olympics

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Figure skaters will take the ice for the women's free skate Thursday morning, but things will already look a little from previous skating competitions at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The women's event is at the center of a controversial ruling as 15-year-old Kamila Valieva was allowed to perform despite testing positive for a banned substance before the Games.

Her doping controversy has reshaped the women's competition.

Traditionally, only the best 24 skaters advance to the free skate, according to the short program qualification rule. But 25 skaters are moving on to Thursday's final round, with an extra skater added to the roster so that if Valieva is later disqualified, enough athletes were able to have competed and gotten a fair shot at gold.

Her performance in the women's competition could also impact several skaters looking to make it to the podium.

Beyond just who will win gold is a question of whether or not the winners will actually be able to stand on the podium for a medal ceremony.

Regardless of what happens at Thursday's free skate finals, there won't be a podium presentation or medal ceremony if Valieva finishes in the top three. That's because the International Olympic Committee, concerned that she could still be banned after a full doping case investigation, said it would instead “organize dignified medal ceremonies” at some future point. The organizing committee also did not explain where or how it might be held.

The 15-year-old walked away with the top performance at Capital Indoor Stadium and is the favorite for the gold medal.

Valieva tested positive for the heart drug trimetazidine on Dec. 25 at the Russian nationals. It wasn't until after Valieva's dominant performance in the figure skating team event that helped the Russian Olympic Committee win gold in Beijing, that the drug test results from a Swedish lab came to light.

The team medal ceremony, in which the U.S. was expected to take silver, was initially delayed before the International Olympic Committee said it won't be held in Beijing since a decision on Valieva's case could take months play out.

When and where can you watch the women's figure skating free skate final?

The women's event started with the short program Tuesday and concludes Thursday morning with the free skate.

The women's free skate final will begin at 4 a.m. CT.

The top 25 athletes are advancing to the medal round, rather than the typical 24 considering the ambiguity of Valieva's pending situation. Out of the 30 skaters who performed Tuesday, only five will not advance, including skaters from China, Sweden, Great Britain, Australia and Ukraine.

Below is the full event and streaming information for each day of competition for figure skating. 

NBC Olympics 2022 Winter Olympics Figure Skating Coverage Schedule*

Date/Time (ET)



Thurs | Feb 3 | 8.55 p.m.

Team Event - Men's & Pairs SP, Rhythm Dance 

NBC | Peacock,

Sat | Feb 5 | 8:30 p.m.

🏅 Team Event - Women's SP, Pairs FS


Sun | Feb 6 | 8:15 p.m.

🏅 Team Event - M/W FS, Free Dance


Mon | Feb 7 | 8:15 p.m.

Men's Singles Short Program


Wed | Feb 9 | 8:30 p.m.

🏅 Men's Singles Free Skate


Sat | Feb 12 | 6:00 a.m.

Ice Dance Rhythm Dance


Sun | Feb 13 | 8:15 p.m.

🏅 Ice Dance Free Dance


Tue | Feb 15 | 5:00 a.m.

Women's Singles Short Program


Thurs | Feb 17 | 5:00 a.m.

🏅 Women’s Singles Free Skate


Fri | Feb 18 | 5:30 a.m.

Pairs Short Program


Sat | Feb 19 | 6:00 a.m.

🏅 Pairs Free Skate


Sat | Feb 19 | 11:00 p.m.

Exhibition Gala


Coverage of the free skate will also re-air during primetime on NBC.

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