Figure skater Vincent Zhou, still dressed in his Team USA gear, explained his departure from the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games in a five-minute Instagram video posted Monday morning. After Team USA won a silver medal in an Olympic figure-skating team event, Zhou was notably absent from the festivities. His teammates were then alerted that Zhou was being forced to withdraw from the competition after receiving a positive COVID-19 test Sunday.
The Nike-sponsored athlete tearfully addressed his younger self in the video, saying he would be extremely proud to see himself competing in the Olympics at 21. “You lived out your dreams,” Zhou said. “You became the person you always aspired to be.” Zhou rehashed long nights spent on the couch as a child, studying the jumps of great figure skaters and dreaming about joining their ranks someday while waking up at 4 a.m. to practice in the rink.
“I am not just another positive COVID test,” Zhou said in the video. His departure from Team USA left the team with only two men competing, Nathan Chen and Jason Brown. The team is barred from adding an alternate athlete because Zhou has already skated on Olympic ice. Zhou asserted that he took every precaution necessary to not contract COVID. According to the New York Times, Zhou avoided socializing with other athletes in the Olympic Village common rooms, sanitized his hands religiously, wore N95 masks, and ate alone to ensure he’d be able to compete. “I have been doing everything in my power to stay free of COVID since the start of the pandemic,” Zhou said. “I’ve isolated myself so much that the loneliness I felt in the last month or two has been crushing at times.”
A day before the team won the silver medal, Zhou skated to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” by Tan Dun, placing third behind skaters from Japan and the Russian Olympic Committee. In 2018, Zhou, then 17, became the first contestant to land a quadruple lutz — an extremely difficult move that involves completing at least four rotations before hitting the ice — at the Olympics. Zhou, a two-time Olympian, was also the 2019 World Figure Skating bronze medalist and the 2021 Skate America champion. Regarding his future, Zhou said, “This is not the end. This is the setup for a bigger comeback.”