The Russian Olympic Committee skaters weren't perfect during the final day of the Olympic figure skating team event, but their dominance still couldn't be touched and they earned the gold medal on Monday.
The team held the lead entering the day and never relinquished it. Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov won the pairs competition and finished in second in the ice dance, and while her result was ultimately irrelevant to ROC's final score, it was Kamila Valieva who stole the show in women's singles and capped the team's victory.
The 15-year-old Valieva became the first woman in Olympic history to land a quadruple jump during her free skate. And her program didn't have just one quad -- it had three. Valieva executed the first two with ease but fell on the third, a quad toe loop.
Still, her historic performance received a 178.92 -- more than 30 points better than the second-place finisher Kaori Sakamoto.
"I do feel this burden a bit, this pressure, because this is my first season among adult skaters,'' Valieva said. "I believe that I'm coping with this pressure, and sometimes it even pushes me forward. It helps me.''
With a final score of 65, nine points behind ROC, the United States won its first silver medal in the event, after taking home bronze in the previous two Olympics. It was the country's highest-ever point total in the event.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates earned the top scores of the day in the ice dance with a nearly flawless performance, and Karen Chen's fourth-place result in the women's free skate secured the podium position.
"I honestly had no expectations,'' said Chock, who along with Bates captained the American team. "I heard the Russians' [score] right before we skated and I was like, 'Oh, that's such a hefty score.' And then it was like: 'All right, focus.'''
Chen, who struggled in her short program on Sunday, later said she was surprised to hear she had clinched the silver.
"Really? I had no idea," Chen said. "Honestly, this whole entire time I've just been focusing on my training and trying not to overwhelm my mind with stuff like that."
The 2018 Olympian landed all five of her triple jumps, including the same triple loop -- paired with a double loop -- that sent her spilling to the ice Sunday. As the Cornell student wrapped up her program, set to a piano concerto by Japanese violinist Takako Nishizaki, she had to cover her face in a failed attempt to hold back tears.
"Just coming back from yesterday is a huge thing for me,'' Chen said. "I knew I could have landed that loop. I knew that I've been training so well and I'm just waiting for that moment. And for today, to go out there and to do that, was just such an incredible feeling. I know it's the team event, but still it's an incredible feeling."
Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier had a shaky start for the Americans in the pairs event, finishing in fifth place out of five, following a mistake-riddled effort. Japan earned the bronze medal in the event.
Figure skating continues Tuesday in Beijing with the men's short program, as the individual events get underway. American Nathan Chen, who was part of the silver-winning squad, is the overwhelming favorite for gold.
The celebration by Team USA was tempered by word shortly before the awards ceremony that Vincent Zhou had tested positive for COVID-19 after his free skate Sunday. Zhou was being tested again Monday and needed to return a negative result or he would miss the start of the men's competition.
The news was especially stressful for Chen. The two have been part of the same practice group in Beijing.
"We basically said: 'Vincent, we're sorry to hear the news. We miss you. We wish you were here because you're a big part of this team. You helped earn the silver medal,'" Bates said after filming a video for him. "And we're just hoping for the best and that he'll be all cleared and be able to take part in his individual event.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.