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?