The figure skating reporting team of Dave Skretta, James Ellingworth, Sally Ho and Aaron Morrison dominated the biggest breaking news stories of the Beijing Olympics. With help from colleagues working in all formats, along with the Moscow staff and fellow staffers promoting AP’s content on social media, they covered all the angles with some of the top stories of the Olympics, and AP’s most-read story overall for the month.
Even before the pivotal final night of the women’s competition, Kansas City, Missouri-based sports writer Skretta and the team delivered standout work, setting up the Games and the expected dominance of both the Russian women and American favorite Nathan Chen. And when a positive drug test was revealed for Russian favorite Kamila Valieva, the team kept AP well ahead of the competition.
Among the highlights:
— Sports writer Ellingworth, now based in Germany but formerly in Moscow, produced the definitive piece on Eteri Tutberidze, Valieva's controversial coach. That story showed up among the top 10 stories on AP News for more than a week. And Ellingworth’s language skills proved invaluable as he shouted questions to the Russian skaters and translated what Russian media was reporting.
— Within an hour of the drug test story, AP had an explainer out on the drug, with help from Moscow and others. That story too was among the top 10 most-read for several days.
— Video journalists from AP and SNTV sports video staked out the hotel where the Court of Arbitration for Sport heard the appeal of Valieva’s case. AP was the only agency up live when the head of CAS came out to speak with journalists and the only one that stayed until the judges emerged at 3:20 a.m., giving us newsbreaks for text also.
— Skretta made readers feel smart by writing prescient stories explaining the scoring of the quad jumps that made Chen and Russians hard to beat.
— Ellingworth's follow-up the morning after the women’s eventful final was the top story on AP News for the month. He had to write that story on the bus because journalists had been kicked out of the stadium.
— Seattle reporter Ho and New York-based race and ethnicity reporter Morrison asked tough questions in the mixed zone and at practice, writing smart inclusionary stories. They provided fresh takes on the sport, highlighting concerns over body image, racism and the impact of the sport on such young skaters. AP’s reporting drew attention to these issues and could contribute to raising the minimum age of participation in Olympic figure skating.
— World-class AP photographers captured all the drama throughout the figure skating events, from practice to competition to skaters’ reaction.
The news that swirled around Beijing’s Capital Indoor Stadium overshadowed much of the 2022 Beijing Games, and AP’s coverage showcased the agency at its best, bring its resources to bear on the stories that matter most.