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Thread: Abuse of Young People in Figure Skating

  1. #1
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    Abuse of Young People in Figure Skating

    Just seeing results of Rostelecom Cup and another win by Julia L. Watching this waif bounce around on the ice is so ridiculous. She should be splashing around in a wading pool somewhere not representing women´s figure skating. She´s 15 but not a woman. Julia like Tara and others are in an unusual state of arrested development. Ordinarily, women mature quicker than men. This is not true in these girls and is an anomaly. Is this something to base a sport on? Figure skating is beginning to look like a juvenile beauty pageant. It´s creepy and bad for the sport.

    Has anyone done a study on the long-term effects of training 6-8 hours a day on the juvenile body frame? There have been anecdotal reportings of post-competition permanent damage. I recall Tara had major hip problems at 16 based on that 3Lo3Lo trick. Yuna seems to experience chronic pain and frequently is unable to compete because of injury. If these girls experinced these problems from a job we would call the Department of Social Work. Why do we condone it in sport?

    We can not ask children to decide for themselves. Children at this age do not understand long-term implications. Many get involved in illegal activities, child-soldering, etc. precisely for this reason. It´s time for the ISU to address this issue and return women´s figure skating to a competition of women doing remarkable things in a beautiful way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by karlowens2 View Post
    Just seeing results of Rostelecom Cup and another win by Julia L. Watching this waif bounce around on the ice is so ridiculous. She should be splashing around in a wading pool somewhere not representing women´s figure skating. She´s 15 but not a woman. Julia like Tara and others are in an unusual state of arrested development. Ordinarily, women mature quicker than men. This is not true in these girls and is an anomaly. Is this something to base a sport on? Figure skating is beginning to look like a juvenile beauty pageant. It´s creepy and bad for the sport.

    Has anyone done a study on the long-term effects of training 6-8 hours a day on the juvenile body frame? There have been anecdotal reportings of post-competition permanent damage. I recall Tara had major hip problems at 16 based on that 3Lo3Lo trick. Yuna seems to experience chronic pain and frequently is unable to compete because of injury. If these girls experinced these problems from a job we would call the Department of Social Work. Why do we condone it in sport?

    We can not ask children to decide for themselves. Children at this age do not understand long-term implications. Many get involved in illegal activities, child-soldering, etc. precisely for this reason. It´s time for the ISU to address this issue and return women´s figure skating to a competition of women doing remarkable things in a beautiful way.
    This is why I think the age limits are a good thing and should perhaps be raised to at least 16.

    At the same time, it is not just skating, just girls, or just elite sports. All over the country, kids are over training and abusing their bodies for sports. As a secondary teacher, I had students who trained just an intensely and started just as young for more traditional school sports like wrestling, volleyball, and basketball. One girl went directly from school to an elite volleyball training center every day of the school team's off season where she trained for 5-6 hours a day. In the summer, she played on elite traveling teams where they trained all day every day and sometimes played as many as four matches in a day. She started that regimen at nine. It "paid off" with a division I scholarship. That school ran a wrestling program that started formal training for four year old boys. By age six, they are fasting to "make weight" for tournaments. And don't get me started on the fact that in most regions today, tackle football leagues, concussions and all, starts around age eight. My nephew played pee wee football in the south where the season for 8 year olds began with two a days in July and ended with "play offs" in November. And at both high schools I taught full time at "supplements" were encouraged for high school football players to build muscle mass.

    Over training children in pursuit of athletic glory is not just a skating problem.

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    You didn't watch Radionova and Miyahara I think They changed grand prix rules and raised minimum age limit to 15, same as other ISU championships.

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    With all due respect to the original poster I don't think there is any way to understand it unless you have been a part of it. I was a competitive skater as a child and teen, no where near the level of Julia l but was competing on the junior and senior level with 2a 3s and 3t. Sure I have niggling pains now but I wouldn't change it for the world, I was so happy when I was training and competing, I could fall 100 times and I wouldn't have cared. This is true of most of the young skaters competing. Changing the age limits will do nothing, skaters will just do more at lower levels, if you restrict the difficulty on the lower levels they will still practice it, if someone had told me at 13 I wasn't allowed to practice my hardest elements I would have done it anyway, you may not like it but it is sport. Sorry if I have offended anyone

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    If we accept that some injuries are going to be inevitable due to the nature of the sport - federations need to start offering help for eating disorders and cracking down on abusive coaches. Karel Fajfr has a record for sexually abusing his students and he's still allowed to coach. USFSA did a great disservice to the sport when they fined Rachael Flatt for hiding an injury - now no one will report injuries, and they publicly absolved her irresponsible coach of any wrongdoing.

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    Custom Title BlackPack's Avatar
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    They're still going to get injured even if they're "women."

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    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    BTW, for anyone not recognizing Karel Fajfr

    http://www.zeit.de/1995/40/Im_Griff_des_Trainers

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karel_Fajfr

    He was convicted. He is still coaching.

    In autumn 1994 an investigation was launched into alleged abuse of some of his students.[1] Fajfr was charged with eleven counts of sexual abuse and two counts of battery.[2] In December 1995, he was sentenced to two years probation, fined 25,000 Deutsche Mark, and given a three-year Berufsverbot (professional disqualification).[3]

    Fajfr currently coaches in Oberstdorf. His former students include:
    Michal Březina[4]
    Heiko Fischer
    Katharina Gierok / Florian Just[5]
    Tina Riegel / Andreas Nischwitz

    He currently coaches:
    Maylin Hausch / Daniel Wende[6]
    Annabelle Prölß / Ruben Blommaert[7]

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    I know that it's not impossible to figure out some intervention in order to protect young children as their bodies are still growing. For example, in Little League, they keep a strict count of the fastballs a pitcher throws during a certain period, because that pitch can damage an immature elbow. The overly excessive training that you mention across all sports, Louisa05, is tremendously disturbing. Figure skating and gymnastics have worried me for years precisely because the peak years for girls are so often earlier than they are for boys. Boys have to put on muscle to perfect their skills. Girls have to avoid mass. It's not ideal by any means.

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    Quote Originally Posted by karlowens2 View Post
    Figure skating is beginning to look like a juvenile beauty pageant. It´s creepy and bad for the sport.
    What? this may me true of some skaters, but you go on and on about Julia L. and if anything, how she has been packaged this season is THE most age appropriate of all of the girls on the circuit. I love her somewhat understated (and MODEST!!!) dresses, and that she doesn't go completely overboard with the makeup - to me she looks like an exceptionally talented 15 year old, not a little girl trying to look more grown up than she really is.

    Limiting competition age will NOT stop these girls from training hard at an early age. Skaters like Tara would have suffered the same injuries no matter what, and in Tara's case, her career would have been over before she even got a shot if the age requirements then were as they are now. She just got lucky.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by karlowens2 View Post
    Just seeing results of Rostelecom Cup and another win by Julia L. Watching this waif bounce around on the ice is so ridiculous. She should be splashing around in a wading pool somewhere not representing women´s figure skating. She´s 15 but not a woman. Julia like Tara and others are in an unusual state of arrested development. Ordinarily, women mature quicker than men. This is not true in these girls and is an anomaly. Is this something to base a sport on? Figure skating is beginning to look like a juvenile beauty pageant. It´s creepy and bad for the sport.

    Has anyone done a study on the long-term effects of training 6-8 hours a day on the juvenile body frame? There have been anecdotal reportings of post-competition permanent damage. I recall Tara had major hip problems at 16 based on that 3Lo3Lo trick. Yuna seems to experience chronic pain and frequently is unable to compete because of injury. If these girls experinced these problems from a job we would call the Department of Social Work. Why do we condone it in sport?

    We can not ask children to decide for themselves. Children at this age do not understand long-term implications. Many get involved in illegal activities, child-soldering, etc. precisely for this reason. It´s time for the ISU to address this issue and return women´s figure skating to a competition of women doing remarkable things in a beautiful way.
    If you think any elite competitor spent their childhood and adolescence splashing in the pool, you are very much mistaken. Go to the ISU bios and look at the "started skating" dates; with a few exceptions, everyone was younger than 10, in many cases considerably younger. OTOH, I am not sure who you think is training 6-8 hours a day - look up the ISU bios and you'll mostly see numbers in the range of 20-25 hours per week, and that's at the senior, not juvenile, level.

    You cannot get to elite level skating if it's not something you want to do. There have been amazing natural talents over the years who were not passionate or even interested in competing, and they walked away. Julia wants to compete, she is talented and is skating age-appropriate material. I see nothing wrong. As others have noted, there are a lot of teens and kids involved in sports, not necessarily at the elite competitive level but in various demanding programs. I am going to guess that the worst abuses happen when there is less, not more visibility.

    I think you are conflating three things: one, should young athletes be training for elite level competition? My answer to that is yes, so long as it is done carefully and other things, such as their education, are not neglected. The large number of skaters at the Universiade, and those who are students and don't compete there, can attest to the possibility of combining skating and academic endeavors. Two, should skaters beneath a certain age be allowed to compete at the senior level? Personally I would like to see the age raised to sixteen for all senior events, but this is still an arbitrary number. There is always the question of whether we are depriving skaters of the opportunity to compete when they are best equipped to do so physically. Three, and most importantly: what can be done to minimize abuses and ensure that skaters, especially younger ones, aren't taking risks with their health? Again, I think visibility, oversight and regulation are vital. Athletes in any sport will have injuries, both general ones and ones unique to their sport (e.g. hip issues in skating, concussions in American football, UCL tears in baseball, etc.). The goal should be to limit the risk and have the best possible medical treatment and rehab opportunities when injuries do occur. Abusive coaching practices should never be accepted in any sport, and predatory coaches should be out of the sport and in some cases, behind bars (BTW, I seriously doubt only girls are abused by coaches, in skating or in any other sport).

    Figure skating has had young competitors in the ranks for decades, so I'm not sure what you are advocating returning to. Age limits have actually gone up, not down, since the 1990s. I don't think the goal should be to keep younger skaters out, but instead to offer them opportunities and protections appropriate to their age.

    Note also that since the IJS came in, only two skaters under the age of 18 have won Worlds: Meissner (2006) and Asada (2008). Most of the top competitors these days are in their twenties; the last skaters under the age of twenty to medal at Worlds were Asada and Kim in 2010, and the three world champions since then were 23 (Ando), 25 (Kostner) and 22 (Kim). This is not just a child's game, and more mature skaters have plenty of ways to stay competitive.

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    It's hard to give definitive opinion on practice hours, unless forced or proven fatal.

    I agree on readjusting the age limit; I really think Worlds and Olympics should be adults competitions, perhaps 17 & up. From the business side, sports associations are concerned on capturing the best of peak ages, but I say let them peak in junior competitions if necessary! That would only split the audience and make the juniors a little more interesting. Olympic Gyms are already pretty much dominated by juniors, so why not just send them to Youth Olympics, and actually make Youth Olympics relevant to public interest?

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    Custom Title Sasha'sSpins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackPack View Post
    They're still going to get injured even if they're "women."
    Quote Originally Posted by sarahspins View Post
    What? this may me true of some skaters, but you go on and on about Julia L. and if anything, how she has been packaged this season is THE most age appropriate of all of the girls on the circuit. I love her somewhat understated (and MODEST!!!) dresses, and that she doesn't go completely overboard with the makeup - to me she looks like an exceptionally talented 15 year old, not a little girl trying to look more grown up than she really is.

    Limiting competition age will NOT stop these girls from training hard at an early age. Skaters like Tara would have suffered the same injuries no matter what, and in Tara's case, her career would have been over before she even got a shot if the age requirements then were as they are now. She just got lucky.
    I agree with all of the above. And I don't think imposing even MORE age limits is going to protect anyone. If anything it punishes gifted skaters like Mao who was denied perhaps her best chance of winning Olympic gold in 2006 due to the artificial age restrictions that were imposed after skaters like Henie, Baiul, and Lipinski had their time in the sun. It is up to the coaches to properly train their charges and ensure they are not burnt out or jumping X amount of times to the point of causing injuries like stress fractures or worse. Skaters hit their peak at different times. Just ask the likes of Zhang, Nagasu and now possibly Tuktamysheva. I hold with the view that age restrictions punish the extraordinarily gifted over so-so athletes. This debate has been going on for years and I've not changed my mind on this subject - and I never will. It's the same in sports like artistic gymnastics. Age restrictions are unfair. There is no guarantee that a young athlete who peaks just before one Olympic cycle but can't go because of his or her age will still be in top form the following Olympic quad.

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    Something like the old child labor laws need to be put in effect, limiting the amount of time they can train.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Icey View Post
    Something like the old child labor laws need to be put in effect, limiting the amount of time they can train.
    That's ridiculous because it is impossible to reinforce it. It will only ensure that skaters from certain countries will be constantly winning because if some countries manage to falsificate documents to make their athletes older or younger, they will surely manage to falsificate the number of hours the athletes train. What do you suggest to do? Place an ISU official at every ice skating rink in every country and ask him/her to keep records of training hours of every elite athlete?

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    Speaking of sexual abuse by coaches, whatever happened to Richard Callagen (? spelling)?

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