Mention of Qing Pang Suffering Weakness
Sorry if this is in the wrong section, but I thought the issue was about more than the 4CC. Did others notice during the ESPN2 coverage the little snippet about Qing Pang suffering from weakness? Given her weight and the informaation that has gradually come out of China about the Chinese coaches expecting all their female pairs skaters to be under 100 lbs., I find this disturbing and upsetting.
To be VERY clear, I am not saying Qing Pang has an eating disorder, but as [EDIT] Doggygirl so accurately pointed out in Post #19 in the "Sasha Cohen Book" thread [Thanks for the correction, Mathman], Pang's weight loss is in some specific places in her body that only occur when the body is burning muscle for fuel. It is a common misunderstanding that the body loses all its fat first when getting insufficient calories and only burns muscle when no fat is left. This is not true. The body needs fat to survive. There are many reasons, but a few are to process fat soluble vitamins and maintain fat-based hormones needed for survival. In any situation where the body is getting insufficient calories to meet its energy production, the body burns both muscle and fat. In extremely low-calorie or very low carbohydrate (less than about 60 grams per day) situations, the body also loses its water stores, anywhere from 5 to 15 lbs or more of water, depending on body size. This is because the body loses its stores of carbohydrate, which needs X amount of water for each molecule of carbohydrate stored.
Thus athletes who compete at extremely unnaturally low body weights are in danger of losing muscle needed for joint support, losing fat stores that keep vitamin and hormone levels where they should be, and of becoming dehydrated, any or all of which can throw off electrolyte balance (electrolytes are charged molecules such as potassium and sodium that keep many of the body's systems in check). With electrolyte imbalance, the sympathetic nervous system that controls things such as heart rate gets out of whack and the neurologic process that governs the heart can cause the heart to fibrillate (beat quickly and out of control) or, in extreme cases, cause a heart attack.
Another concern I have for Qing Pang and other female skaters who are far too thin is for their bones. Without going into a technical explanation, at such low body weights, the blood is not able to maintain its necessary level of calcium. Without a certain level of calcium in the blood, survival is threatened. So the body turns to another source of calcium for the blood in order to stay alive: the bones. That is, the body leeches calcium from the bones in order to keep blood levels right. The problem is, after three or four years of eating so little that the body has to get its blood calcium from bone, even a woman of 20 can have the bone density of an 80-year-old woman. I'm so afraid that one day Qing Pang is going to land after a throw jump and her landing leg is going to break right underneath her.
I know this is a controversial subject that brings out many conflicting opinions. And in no way do I mean to criticize Qing Pang. She's just doing what her coaches are telling her to do. I've been concerned for Qing Pang for several years now and in my experience, an athlete or dancer can only work at a high physical level on a very low caloric intake--assuming this is what's happening with Qing Pang, which I must emphasize I have no direct knowledge of--for about three or four years before their bodies start breaking down.
I sincerely hope I'm wrong about Qing Pang, but after hearing the mention of her weak condition during the 4CC broadcast, my concerns for her well-being came to the fore once again. Again, if there is a problem--IF--I blame the coaches, not Qing Pang. I sincerely wish Qing Pang nothing but the best, as well as her partner Jian Tong.
What do others think? Did they hear the mention of Qing Pang having trouble with weakness that I did?
Last edited by Rgirl; 03-04-2005 at 03:04 AM.
Reason: to correct factual error
Bona Fide Member
RGirl, the post that you wre referring to was by Doggygirl, post #19 on the (where else?) Sasha's book thread.
I did not see this snippet, but I have been concerned about her for as long as I can remember watching her skate. We have heard the Chinese Skating Federation saying that they were monitoring her and her condition, but I'm sorry, that woman appears to be in need of serious help. Thin I understand; bones sticking out, I do not understand.
Rgirl, I agree that Pang is far to thin.
When I first saw Shen compete at Worlds in Edmonton, her state of thinness was a huge topic of concern amongst many skaters/coaches and fans. By the time I saw her again (in person) at Worlds in Vancouver, she had gained quite a bit of muscle and consequently body weight ... she looked very fit and quite lovely.
I can only hope that Pang follows the pattern and "fills out" as well, although I do have my concerns about that happening. I read a profile on Pang & Tong and I distinctly remember it addressing her physique and how exactly did she stay so thin ... didn't she eat? Pang replied, if the girl skaters gain weight they are punished by being forced to sit and eat their meals with the coaches, she definately didn't want that to happen. So yes she ate, but she always tried "not to swallow."
Not to swallow
Try not to swallow? Oh, gross.
The Chinese Federation needs to simply not allow her to skate. Period.
I remember that quote. What surprises me is that the ISU doesn't get involved in this situation. Supposedly age limits are being raised to prevent injury yet the Chinese Federation is permitted to STARVE their female skaters. That quote has been public for a while and there needs to be an investigation in this matter. I don't think Pang is starving herself b/c she wants to be thin like a lot of girls in the west. She lives in a dormitory where the training and nutrition is entirely controlled by the Chinese Federation. She has no choice (other than leave) but to submit to this reduced intake of food. Plus she's supposedly 5'7 (different heights are listed on various sources) and weighing below 100 pounds is not acceptable for a woman of that height. If the Chinese want light pairs skaters, they're going to have to recruit ladies who will only reach 5'0 at full height. The Chinese don't have a problem with fielding a small gymnastics team, so they should be able to get small pairs skaters.
The girls in gymnastics team are usually from south part of china, where in general ppl have small skeleton. The girls in figure skating are usually from noth part of china, where ppl have big frames.
Originally Posted by soogar
Listed at ISU website she is 162 cm, which is about 5'4" or 5'5"? As for chinese federation control femal pair's weight under 100 pounds, I don't know where you got the infomation, guess it is the rumor floating over internet. But I doubt how much truth is in this, I doubt it came out from china, in china they use chinese scal called 'jing' measure body weight. 1 jing = 0.5 kg. I would say more likely 100 jing, which is 50 kg and about 110 pounds.
no the federation should not force a specific weight for every skater.
Originally Posted by Linny
It may very well have been my post that you recall, as MM suggested. Like you, I am very hesitant to speculate about the possibility of eating disorders of people I see on TV or in print, etc. but do not personally know. BUT...I do remember what it was like to look at myself in the mirror when at 17 years old and at 5'9", I weighed 108 pounds and thought I looked "fat" while my mother CRIED trying to make me eat. My hip bones jutted out. There was a several inch gap between the tops of my thighs. It's a serious mental thing in addition to being a physical thing. When I went through it, it was a few (very few) years before Karen Carpenter died from complications related to Anorexia, which was a horrible tragedy, but brought eating disorders into the public eye.
I was a competitive athlete. When I look back at pictures and old films, I was at my best competitively, physically, and mentally at about 125 pounds. Of course this was around the age of 15, and I hadn't developed a whole bunch of "womanly curves" yet. (i.e. 125 would be WAY too low for me now) When I look at my old pictures at the height of my eating disorder, those 12 pounds were clearly attributable to lost muscle, and I looked a lot like Pang, IMO. It only took 12 pounds to take me from trim, fit and competitive to skeletal.
I have no idea if this is a problem for her or not. I have no idea if the Chinese skating federation is contributing to potential eating disorders or not. BUT...with that said, I am concerned. In the book The Second Mark, I got the impression (don't know if it's true) that "weight management" is a huge deal for the Chinese pairs. While I think some healthy weight management is a good thing for most of us, I hope the federation is not setting arbitrary numbers (i.e. the man of the pair can't POSSIBLY throw a woman around who weighs more than 100 pounds, regardless of the health and ideal training condition of the woman).
For those of you who have never experienced an eating disorder, it would be hard to understand (IMO) just how these problems take over your mind. AND...it affects you for the rest of your life in a variety of ways both physical and mental, at least from my experience.
There is a VAST difference between how I percieve a thin, fit athlete, and an athlete that is thin where I suspect eating problems. Maybe one of these days I'll scan some pictures where I think even the casual observer could tell the difference between my healthy, and naturally optimal "training weight" and my anorexic days. Back then, nutritional and training science wasn't what it is today, so I couldn't tell you what my body fat %'s were, or anything like that. There are some things you can just tell by looking. And at 108 pounds, I assure you I didn't look right. I looked like a walking skeleton, even with jeans on, much less a "costume" which was somewhat like a skating costume but without the skirt. The only more revealing outfit would be a bikini.
I could babble on forever on this subject, which I feel very passionate about. So I guess I'll shut up now. But I will be happy to respond to any specific questions as they might pertain to my own personal experience and eating disorders. They are real, and there are real signs that can be spotted by those of us who know what it looks like first hand.
Last edited by Doggygirl; 03-02-2005 at 01:34 PM.