Eating Disorders: public or silent enemy? | Golden Skate

Eating Disorders: public or silent enemy?

sisinka

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 25, 2006
1) https://bocarecoverycenter.com/treatment/the-state-of-eating-disorders/
- article The State of Eating Disorders in 2022 by Boca Recovery Center

-…Athletes are a special cathegory of people that commonly struggle with eating disorders, especially those in sports that have a heavy emphasis on body shape, size, weight…In these types of sports, more than 60 percent of women have eating disorders, and a third of male athletes do.

-…Over 10,000 people die from an eating disorder each year… eating disorders have the highest mortality rate out of all mental illnesses



There was a compulsory seminar for coaches from whole country one month ago. One coach asked Sport Doctor and physiotherapist whether they can measure ideal athlete's weight at their Sport Clinic. Coach pointed that it is already a known fact that the "lowest weight" strategy is not paying off. That there is a possibility to find out "ideal weight", which is weight of an athlete which her / his performance is the best with. Both Sport Doctor and physiotherapist didn't know a thing about it. ALL coaches didn't know. When the word "weight" was mentioned for the first time, few coaches laughed.

I was thinking about creating this topic for longer and this moment - no knowledge and the LAUGH of few coaches - persuaded me that figure skating community still underestimate the situation.

Many people from figure skating community are skaters of past generations, they were skating in a time when "the lowest weight" strategy was propagated. It may not be easy for them to accept new approach, but they should try... for the better health of athletes.

I would wish coaches and members of figure skating community to cooperate with people who have education which can protect athlete‘s health better than it looks to be now. Lack of consultation with specialists leads to lack of understanding which leads to underestimating the situation...Visibly it is not in Rehabilitation only, it is also in nutrition area. Because lack of knowledge indeed may create dangerous moments. I do believe that some coaches and other people from figure skating community are educating themselves, but based on skater's statements about eating disorders, it is still not enough.

An athlete being hospitalized for malnutrition...it is not funny at all.

Eating disorders are damaging both physical and mental side of person suffering from the disease.

Revealing diagnosis and starting of treatment can take years.

Although there is some kind of genetic predispositions...
EATING DISORDERS are NOT something what is athlete born with. In my opinion it is the disease where one of the main activating factors come from people from figure skating community, who are pressuring a vulnerable one.


2) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eating-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20353603 and https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/risk-factors
- According to famous Mayo Clinic -– a history of weight bullying is one of risk factors (together with family history, other mental health issues, dieting and starvation, stress).

- National Eating Disorders Association - determines weight stigma (thinner is better), teasing and appearance of ideal internalization (buying socially defined „ideal body“) like social risk factor of eating disorders.



Pressure can come from any side of figure skating community - coaches, parents, other skaters, members of figure skating club or association, people on Internet (social media with photo filters led to increase of eating diserders among people)...

Every child and teenager is vulnerable one, looking for own identity, they are more prone to be influenced in both positive and negative way.

Dysmorphia - although other people can see an athlete is extremely thin, the athlete sees herself / himself fat or big....it is one of reasons why the start of treatment happens lately than needed.

For years skaters are pushed to lose weight. More skaters mentioned they were not reccomended how...

In my amateurish description...If your body fat percentage is low and you try to lose weight...you will more likely lose muscles...so you will get more tired while having less muscle strenght and movement dynamics which will have a negative impact on your skating. Losing body fat under certain percentage is dangerous. Favourite unhealthy way how to influence weight is to drink less or not drink at all. But dehydratation leads to another health troubles. Starving leads to loss of bone denzity, bones are more prone to injury then.


3) https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&opi=89978449&url=https://usfigureskatingssmcblogdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/energy-and-macronutrient-intakes-of-elite-figure-skaters.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwiOgsLTu_eBAxVXif0HHfkaALgQFnoECA4QBg&usg=AOvVaw3Qrz5xb-mSNfQft9iqI14w
- from Journal of the American Dietetic Association from 2001

- male figure skaters (mean age 18 years) had 6.6% body fat on the average (from 2 to 12%), female figure skaters (mean age 16) had 14.1% body fat on the average (from 9 to 25%)


4) https://www.forbes.com/health/body/body-fat-percentage/
- Forbes article from August 2023

- ...Body fat...It can safely go as low as 10% for women and 3% for men, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

- ...With that said, you do need enough body fat to protect your organs. For instance, vitamins A, D, E and K are all essential nutrients, but without enough body fat, you cannot absorb enough of these specific vitamins...



Too low body fat leads to health problem, more science studies are pointing to that.


5) https://us.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/normal-ranges-of-body-weight-and-body-fat
- an excerpt from Sport Nutrition-2nd Edition

- ...In general, the total body fat percentage (essential plus storage fat) is between 12% and 15% for young men and between 25% and 28% for young women.

- total body fat percentage in different sports:
Sprinters - body fat percentage: male - 8-10%, female - 12-20%
High/long Jumpers - body fat percentage : male - 7-12%, female - 10-18%
Gymnastics - body fat percentage : male - 5-12%, female - 10-16%

(figure skaters were not included)

6) https://www.healthline.com/health/body-water-percentage#too-much-water
- article from 2019 medically reviewed

- percentage of body water:
Male: age 12 to 18 with range: 52-66%, age 19 to 50 with range: 43-73%
Female: age 12 to 18 with range: 49-63%, age 19 to 50 with range: 41-60%

- the risk of dehydratation – heat-related injuries, cramps, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, seizures, sudden drops in blood pressure leading to fainting and falls or hypovolemic shock


7) https://www.biomed.cas.cz/physiolres/pdf/58 Suppl 1/58_S7.pdf
- minireview from 2009

- ...Starvation increases loss of bone mass


8) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271382160_Somatotypes_in_Sport
Somatotypes in sport: I only took description of three Sheldon's somatotypes...
- Ectomorph: the slim and thin type, signs of slenderness predominate, fragility, weak bones and musculature
- Endomorph: The chunky type with a large number of fat cells, rounded shapes, the appearance of softer musculature,
- Mesomorph: the muscular type with a strong skeleton, sharp musculature relief, broad shoulders and thorax, muscular limbs...


People are combination of three somatotypes in different percentage of each.

Compare Yuzuru Hanyu versus Brian Joubert, Lilah Fear versus Mae Berenice Meite...it is definitely NOT thin and "needs to lose weight" skater... it is only different somatotype (combination of different percentage of three somatotypes above).


How are people from figure skating community judging skaters before giving their: "You should lose weight!" advice?
By vision and by weight.
How people see human body is subjective from person to person, even more subjective thanks to different proportions of body, muscle mass, length of limbs, let's say optical illusion as well.
Weight is influenced by, OK, fat, but in case of skaters mainly by somatotype with muscle mass, also bone denzity, bone mass, body water.

If people have no idea about percentage of body fat / muscle / water / minerals / proteins of the skater, they can no way know whether losing weight is indicated and whether an attempt to lose weight is safe.
 

sisinka

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 25, 2006
I am glad that figure skaters speak up about eating disorders. If it is a part of their treatment and it helps, it is even better.

It will not change what happened, but it may change the presence and future…it may help other skaters to stop and think and finally decide not to suffer from this terrible disease. It may help people from figure skating community to stop and rethink what they will be saying to skaters...

1) https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/blog/figure-skating-eating-disorders
- article from Chelsea Fielder-Jenks from 2018 mentioned some conclusions from science studies

In female athletes in weight class and aesthetic sports, disordered eating occurs at estimates of up to 62%. (National Eating Disorder Association. Statistics and Research on Eating Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/statistics-research-eating-disorders on June 4, 2018)

Among female high school athletes in aesthetic sports like figure skating, 41.5% reported disordered eating. Furthermore, they were eight times more likely to incur an injury than their non-disordered eating peers. (National Eating Disorder Association. Statistics and Research on Eating Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/statistics-research-eating-disorders on June 4, 2018)

One study found that 20.5% of competitive skaters reported having a history of an eating disorder and half of these reported still having an eating disorder. Furthermore, a majority of the skaters (62.5%) reported symptoms of anorexia. (Barkley, L.C. (2001). Prevalence of Eating Disorders Among Competitive Ice Skaters. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 33, S96)

In a study on the symptomology of eating disorders in Canadian competitive figure skaters, researchers found that 92.7% of the forty-one skaters surveyed reported pressure to lose weight. The skaters also indicated that in efforts to maintain the thin ideal encouraged by the sport, they engaged in various eating disorder behaviors in an attempt to control weight. (Taylor, G. & Ste-Marie, D.M. (2001). Eating disorders symptoms in Canadian female pair and dance figure skaters. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 32, 21-28)



Figure skaters who opened up about their troubles:

- Julia Antipova (pair skater)

- Tanith Belbin (ice dancer)
- Brian Boitano (single skater)

- Gabrielle Daleman (single skating)
- Jessica Dube (pair skater)
- Ryan Dunk (single skating)

- Eva Maria Fitze (single skating)

- Gracie Gold (single skating)

- Emily Hayward (single skating, then pair skater)
- Kaitlyn Hawayek (ice dancer)

- Joe Johnson (ice dancer)

- Nancy Kerrigan (single skater)
- Jennifer Kirk (single skating, pair skater at the end of career)
- Kiira Korpi (single skating)

- Julia Lipnitskaya (single skating)

- Karina Manta (ice dancer)
- Julie Marcotte (choreographer, ice dancer)
- Harry Mattick (single skating, then pair skater)
- Mae Berenice Meite (single skating)

- Shawn Rabbit (single skater)
- Adam Rippon (single skating)

- Shawn Sawyer (single skating)
- Jamie Silverstein (ice dancer)
- Anastasia Skoptsova (ice dancer)
- Akiko Suzuki (single skating)

If you know about other skaters and have link to article or message, feel free to post it.
If you experienced eating disorders in figure skating and want to share it anonymously, feel free to post about it as well.
 
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sisinka

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 25, 2006
I found an old topic about Eating disorders at Golden Skate:
https://www.goldenskate.com/forum/threads/eating-disorders-awareness-week.91393/
- mentioning Ryan Dunk, Gracie Gold, Emily Hayward and Harry Mattick
- thank you @moonvine and @skatedreamer for the topic

https://www.goldenskate.com/forum/t...yer-joe-johnson-sean-rabbitt-speak-out.88324/
- mentioning Shawn Sawyer, Joe Johnson, Sean Rabbitt, Jamie Silverstein
- thank you @el henry, @Ic3Rabbit, @LutzDance for the thread

FS Universe has a thread:
https://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/th...ng-disorders-a-news-discussion-thread.107347/
- with information about organisations helping people, Rachel Flatt helping and many other skaters mentioning eating disorders…


- 8th at 2014 World Championships Julia Antipova (skating with Nodari Maisuradze):
https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2014...r-anorexic-skaters-treatment-in-israel-a41931
...Antipova was diagnosed with the eating disorder this summer. At one point she weighed only 25 kilograms...


- Tanith Belbin - 2006 Olympic silver medalist, 2005 and 2009 World silver and 2006 and 2007 World bronze medalist (with Ben Agosto):
https://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/17/sports/olympics/17icedancers.html
Linichuk took one look at the 5-foot-6, 105-pound Belbin and said, “You need to gain 10 pounds.” She said more muscle would help Belbin skate faster and more fluidly.

“At first, I said no way, but then I started to understand that it needed to be done,” said Belbin, who is from Kirkland, Quebec, but holds dual citizenship. “I don’t feel like I had a safe, well-thought-out or well-researched diet until the past few years, until Natalia gave me that ultimatum.”

“I thought I was out of control and that the weight gain must be my fault,” she said. “I was like, I’m eating nothing and I’m still not losing weight. I swear, I’m not eating anything and I’m exhausted and cranky and stressed and all of those things that make you gain weight even more.”



- Article mentioning eating disorders of 2017 World bronze medalist Gabrielle Daleman, 2014 World silver medalist and 2014 European Champion Julia Lipnitskaya, US Champion Gracie Gold and 2012 World bronze medalists Akiko Suzuki.
https://www.huffpost.com/archive/ca...-eating-disorders_ca_5cd53589e4b07bc72975d0d8


- Another article which mentions that Akiko Suzuki:
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-2018-figs-eating-idUSKBN1ET1FK
...Too weak to skate, she was diagnosed with the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. Her weight had fallen from 48 kg to 32 kg on her 160 cm frame.


- 2008 World bronze medalist Jessica Dube (skating with Bruce Davison) - bulimia:
https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2021/05/01/le-patinage-la-rendue-boulimique


- British skaters - Emily Hayward and Harry Mattick's story, her eating disorder troubles started at the age of 18, his at the age of 15 - both started with comments from people in the figure skating world.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/0f78fa36-8bb8-49ee-9093-c46f389972c7


- 2008 Four Continents champion and Top 10 World Championships dancer Kaitlyn Hawayek (skating with Jean-Luc Baker):
https://open.spotify.com/episode/64Uu1RHZ15xl3QC9E5gZBM


- 2000 Junior World Champion and US National medalist Jennifer Kirk:
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/jenny-kirk-on-figure-skat_b_430032
"It wasn't until I was on tour, spending months at a time with the best skaters in the world, that I saw how prevalent disordered eating was amongst the top skaters in the sport. Based on my experience there, and after speaking with skaters after leaving the sport, I would say about 85% of skaters have suffered or are suffering with various forms of disordered eating.

I don't think the sport itself promotes eating disorders, rather, it's the people involved in the sport who promote these disorders. Some of the most talented skaters in the world aren't petite--think Tonya Harding--but those involved in skating, including fans, judges, and coaches, hold a strong belief that thinner is better. Often, once a skater goes through puberty their timing changes. This makes skaters freak out because what used to come so easily before they grew is now much more challenging. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on adjusting a skater's technique, it's common for coaches or parents to focus on a skater's weight and start pushing the skater to watch what they eat in order to ensure their body returns to a more "manageable" size. This can start a really tough cycle where a skater is constantly trying to achieve the size they were before puberty set in, which is incredibly unhealthy."



- 2011 and 2012 European bronze and silver medalist Kiira Korpi mentioned having eating disorder troubles in her book.


- Choreographer Julie Marcotte:
https://www.bardown.com/athletes-the-pressure-to-perform-and-eating-disorders-1.1544528
"It’s really slow and it’s gradual and you don’t really see it happen until you start to overeat and you feel extreme guilt and you say to yourself, okay, it was just a one-time deal, and tomorrow, everything’s going to be fine again. It’s a pattern that just repeats itself, and it gets worse and worse and worse... even when you’re spiralling down and you’re miserable and every day it’s suffering, you're still fighting for it because this [sport] is where your identity is and this is what you’re good at, so this is where you believe you belong and you don’t see it, you don’t see past it."


- Multiple time French National Champion and Top 10 European lady Mae Berenice Meite:
https://youtu.be/WGJCXv2lbH0?si=d-upeRgkIgS6VSNH


- 2010 Four Continents gold medalist and 2016 US Champion Adam Rippon's troubles:
https://www.waldeneatingdisorders.c...t-starving-himself-for-a-figure-skaters-body/


- 2018 Junior World Champion Anastasia Skoptsova - bulimia, (skating with Kirill Aleshin)
https://fs-gossips.com/i-used-to-ta...ova-about-eating-disorders-in-figure-skating/
 

macy

Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 12, 2011
I don't think the sport itself promotes eating disorders, rather, it's the people involved in the sport who promote these disorders. Some of the most talented skaters in the world aren't petite--think Tonya Harding--but those involved in skating, including fans, judges, and coaches, hold a strong belief that thinner is better. Often, once a skater goes through puberty their timing changes. This makes skaters freak out because what used to come so easily before they grew is now much more challenging. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on adjusting a skater's technique, it's common for coaches or parents to focus on a skater's weight and start pushing the skater to watch what they eat in order to ensure their body returns to a more "manageable" size. This can start a really tough cycle where a skater is constantly trying to achieve the size they were before puberty set in, which is incredibly unhealthy."
she summed it up very nicely here and pretty much hit the nail right on the head.

as a former competitive skater who has struggled with weight and disordered eating, albeit not a full blown eating disorder, from a very young age this is something i feel very passionately about. i know how incredibly damaging and harmful it is and how it will follow you well past your skating years left unaddressed.

i believe the focus on weight and numbers on the scale is an old, outdated way of thinking and coaching that is thankfully dying out. this mentality is what encourages and influences EDs, as many athletes are told to just get to a certain number on the scale no matter how its done. just get there. it wasn't common 30 years ago to be well educated on nutrition and fueling your body to function and support you for training or have those resources readily available as a competitive athlete the way it is now. or even for that to be the focus; not on how much you actually weigh. many people did not care about the consequences of EDs and depriving yourself of essential nutrients your body needs to function - as long as you looked a certain way and were a specific number on the scale, that's all that mattered. it brings to mind the changes in USAG the last few years and how they needed to completely clean house in their structure and national team leadership after the Karolyis ran off and the absolute wreckage they caused their athletes (along with other abusers with a lot of power, like big name coaches, Nassar, etc). it used to be all about medals and results with no regard for the athletes as human beings or their psychological or physical health. abuse was normalized.

with younger generations coming up who are open to positive change, pivoting the focus to athlete health and peak functionality, and better research and education things are finally beginning to change, but the ball won't really begin rolling until older generations age out. i think a lot of older coaches/officials/judges etc are very stuck in their ways and are not open to changing their thinking. it seems many from the older generations think the world is "softening" and experiencing trauma such as abuse (which they do not see as abuse) builds character and makes you "tough" (speaking from experience on this), which is incredibly warped thinking. many think just because something was always done a certain way and was seen as "normal" that it should continue. that does not actually make it okay, and many times they don't want to see it either- which also explains why some coaches laughed at this as stated in the first post. i am not trying to bash anyone here- i am only speaking from my own experience with the older adults around me. family, family friends, coaches, mentors, professional relationships, etc. i love the impact social media has had on body positivity and acceptance and the light its brought to the harmful patterns and societal norms that have become so ingrained into our lives, and the athletes who have spoken out are so brave. i look up to them and respect them so much as they are the ones who are driving change.
 
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4everchan

Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 7, 2015
Country
Martinique
Julie Marcotte was an ice dancer. She is, if I recall correctly, a junior national champion of Canada.

A couple years ago, a documentary called Pression made in Québec addressed the issues of unrealistic expectations in terms of healthy training and/or eating disorders. Several skaters participated in it including some mentioned already in this thread but also Joannie Rochette, Cynthia Phaneuf, Camille Ruest and Julianne Séguin.

I haven't watched it. Marie-France Dubreuil also mentioned that there is no scale at their rinks. Health is discussed with the skater's doctor not the coaching staff if I recall correctly. I am sharing this with prudence because I remember reading articles about the documentary when it was released and seeing some excerpts but I haven't watched the whole thing.

The good news is that it seems that the cat is out of the bag in Canada/Québec and that people are more careful about it nowadays but it's a constant battle.

 

RobinA

On the Ice
Joined
Nov 4, 2010
As long as what you are required to do to be a successful figure skater favors smaller bodies there will be eating disorders in figure skating, particularly but not exclusively among females. Distance from a rotational axis slows down rotation. Distance from the rotational axis translates into weight in figure skating. Until they come up with a way to counteract the weight effect, skaters will continue to try to be as small as possible so they can do as many rotations as possible. Triples, quads, quints - each more unhealthy than the last. People need to think about that when they are cheering an ever greater number of rotations in jumps. For pairs and dance, add in eye popping lifts.
 

DancingCactus

Final Flight
Joined
Jan 17, 2022
Well, what about muscle power? If you have stronger leg and torso muscles, you should be able to jump higher than an emaciated stick that might rotate faster, right? Shouldn't it cancel each other out or even give the advantage to skaters who can jump higher? Just my amateur opinion.
But I've always felt the really frighteningly thins skaters didn't exactly have the most impressive jumps in terms of height and ice coverage.
 

macy

Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 12, 2011
Well, what about muscle power? If you have stronger leg and torso muscles, you should be able to jump higher than an emaciated stick that might rotate faster, right? Shouldn't it cancel each other out or even give the advantage to skaters who can jump higher? Just my amateur opinion.
But I've always felt the really frighteningly thins skaters didn't exactly have the most impressive jumps in terms of height and ice coverage.
muscular skaters do have an advantage in the sense they have more protection around their joints/tendons/ligaments and are less prone to injury. i'd even go as far as saying skaters who have that sort of physique even tend to have better technique as they have the muscle mass to do it. they have the strength to have a more "proper" and efficient technique vs a very lightweight skater with less muscle mass who doesn't mainly rely on their legs to complete a jump, and relies instead on massive torque of the shoulders, arms and back (which also adds to being more injury prone). some who come to mind with a more muscular stature and pretty good technique are Sakamoto, Higuchi, Karen Chen, Tuktamysheva and Hendrickx. not saying these skaters are the pinnacle, but they are good examples. another thing to note is those five have/had good length to their senior careers - the shortest being 7 seasons and the longest being 13, and have not had to quit due to career ending injuries at this point at least.
 

labgoat

Wishing on a star
Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 3, 2007
Country
United-States
1) https://bocarecoverycenter.com/treatment/the-state-of-eating-disorders/
- article The State of Eating Disorders in 2022 by Boca Recovery Center

-…Athletes are a special cathegory of people that commonly struggle with eating disorders, especially those in sports that have a heavy emphasis on body shape, size, weight…In these types of sports, more than 60 percent of women have eating disorders, and a third of male athletes do.

-…Over 10,000 people die from an eating disorder each year… eating disorders have the highest mortality rate out of all mental illnesses



There was a compulsory seminar for coaches from whole country one month ago. One coach asked Sport Doctor and physiotherapist whether they can measure ideal athlete's weight at their Sport Clinic. Coach pointed that it is already a known fact that the "lowest weight" strategy is not paying off. That there is a possibility to find out "ideal weight", which is weight of an athlete which her / his performance is the best with. Both Sport Doctor and physiotherapist didn't know a thing about it. ALL coaches didn't know. When the word "weight" was mentioned for the first time, few coaches laughed.

I was thinking about creating this topic for longer and this moment - no knowledge and the LAUGH of few coaches - persuaded me that figure skating community still underestimate the situation.

Many people from figure skating community are skaters of past generations, they were skating in a time when "the lowest weight" strategy was propagated. It may not be easy for them to accept new approach, but they should try... for the better health of athletes.

I would wish coaches and members of figure skating community to cooperate with people who have education which can protect athlete‘s health better than it looks to be now. Lack of consultation with specialists leads to lack of understanding which leads to underestimating the situation...Visibly it is not in Rehabilitation only, it is also in nutrition area. Because lack of knowledge indeed may create dangerous moments. I do believe that some coaches and other people from figure skating community are educating themselves, but based on skater's statements about eating disorders, it is still not enough.

An athlete being hospitalized for malnutrition...it is not funny at all.

Eating disorders are damaging both physical and mental side of person suffering from the disease.

Revealing diagnosis and starting of treatment can take years.

Although there is some kind of genetic predispositions...
EATING DISORDERS are NOT something what is athlete born with. In my opinion it is the disease where one of the main activating factors come from people from figure skating community, who are pressuring a vulnerable one.


2) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eating-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20353603 and https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/risk-factors
- According to famous Mayo Clinic -– a history of weight bullying is one of risk factors (together with family history, other mental health issues, dieting and starvation, stress).

- National Eating Disorders Association - determines weight stigma (thinner is better), teasing and appearance of ideal internalization (buying socially defined „ideal body“) like social risk factor of eating disorders.



Pressure can come from any side of figure skating community - coaches, parents, other skaters, members of figure skating club or association, people on Internet (social media with photo filters led to increase of eating diserders among people)...

Every child and teenager is vulnerable one, looking for own identity, they are more prone to be influenced in both positive and negative way.

Dysmorphia - although other people can see an athlete is extremely thin, the athlete sees herself / himself fat or big....it is one of reasons why the start of treatment happens lately than needed.

For years skaters are pushed to lose weight. More skaters mentioned they were not reccomended how...

In my amateurish description...If your body fat percentage is low and you try to lose weight...you will more likely lose muscles...so you will get more tired while having less muscle strenght and movement dynamics which will have a negative impact on your skating. Losing body fat under certain percentage is dangerous. Favourite unhealthy way how to influence weight is to drink less or not drink at all. But dehydratation leads to another health troubles. Starving leads to loss of bone denzity, bones are more prone to injury then.


3) https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&opi=89978449&url=https://usfigureskatingssmcblogdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/energy-and-macronutrient-intakes-of-elite-figure-skaters.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwiOgsLTu_eBAxVXif0HHfkaALgQFnoECA4QBg&usg=AOvVaw3Qrz5xb-mSNfQft9iqI14w
- from Journal of the American Dietetic Association from 2001

- male figure skaters (mean age 18 years) had 6.6% body fat on the average (from 2 to 12%), female figure skaters (mean age 16) had 14.1% body fat on the average (from 9 to 25%)


4) https://www.forbes.com/health/body/body-fat-percentage/
- Forbes article from August 2023

- ...Body fat...It can safely go as low as 10% for women and 3% for men, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

- ...With that said, you do need enough body fat to protect your organs. For instance, vitamins A, D, E and K are all essential nutrients, but without enough body fat, you cannot absorb enough of these specific vitamins...



Too low body fat leads to health problem, more science studies are pointing to that.


5) https://us.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/normal-ranges-of-body-weight-and-body-fat
- an excerpt from Sport Nutrition-2nd Edition

- ...In general, the total body fat percentage (essential plus storage fat) is between 12% and 15% for young men and between 25% and 28% for young women.

- total body fat percentage in different sports:
Sprinters - body fat percentage: male - 8-10%, female - 12-20%
High/long Jumpers - body fat percentage : male - 7-12%, female - 10-18%
Gymnastics - body fat percentage : male - 5-12%, female - 10-16%

(figure skaters were not included)

6) https://www.healthline.com/health/body-water-percentage#too-much-water
- article from 2019 medically reviewed

- percentage of body water:
Male: age 12 to 18 with range: 52-66%, age 19 to 50 with range: 43-73%
Female: age 12 to 18 with range: 49-63%, age 19 to 50 with range: 41-60%

- the risk of dehydratation – heat-related injuries, cramps, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, seizures, sudden drops in blood pressure leading to fainting and falls or hypovolemic shock


7) https://www.biomed.cas.cz/physiolres/pdf/58 Suppl 1/58_S7.pdf
- minireview from 2009

- ...Starvation increases loss of bone mass


8) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271382160_Somatotypes_in_Sport
Somatotypes in sport: I only took description of three Sheldon's somatotypes...
- Ectomorph: the slim and thin type, signs of slenderness predominate, fragility, weak bones and musculature
- Endomorph: The chunky type with a large number of fat cells, rounded shapes, the appearance of softer musculature,
- Mesomorph: the muscular type with a strong skeleton, sharp musculature relief, broad shoulders and thorax, muscular limbs...


People are combination of three somatotypes in different percentage of each.

Compare Yuzuru Hanyu versus Brian Joubert, Lilah Fear versus Mae Berenice Meite...it is definitely NOT thin and "needs to lose weight" skater... it is only different somatotype (combination of different percentage of three somatotypes above).


How are people from figure skating community judging skaters before giving their: "You should lose weight!" advice?
By vision and by weight.
How people see human body is subjective from person to person, even more subjective thanks to different proportions of body, muscle mass, length of limbs, let's say optical illusion as well.
Weight is influenced by, OK, fat, but in case of skaters mainly by somatotype with muscle mass, also bone denzity, bone mass, body water.

If people have no idea about percentage of body fat / muscle / water / minerals / proteins of the skater, they can no way know whether losing weight is indicated and whether an attempt to lose weight is safe.
Excellent post, thank for for taking the time to post in such detail and to provide references. We need to remember that our past champions come in all sizes and shapes and to make sure today's skaters are healthy athletes physically and mentally.
 

moonvine

All Hail Queen Gracie
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 14, 2007
Country
United-States
Well, what about muscle power? If you have stronger leg and torso muscles, you should be able to jump higher than an emaciated stick that might rotate faster, right? Shouldn't it cancel each other out or even give the advantage to skaters who can jump higher? Just my amateur opinion.
But I've always felt the really frighteningly thins skaters didn't exactly have the most impressive jumps in terms of height and ice coverage.
My Queen Gracie has said that when she got to some low weight it actually affected her skating negatively because she no longer had the strength needed to finish the rotations, but she was still getting praised for losing weight and encouraged to lose more. If you look at Tonya Harding she was never a stick figure but had massive jumps including the 3A decades before it was common.
 

sisinka

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 25, 2006
As long as what you are required to do to be a successful figure skater favors smaller bodies there will be eating disorders in figure skating, particularly but not exclusively among females. Distance from a rotational axis slows down rotation. Distance from the rotational axis translates into weight in figure skating. Until they come up with a way to counteract the weight effect, skaters will continue to try to be as small as possible so they can do as many rotations as possible. Triples, quads, quints - each more unhealthy than the last. People need to think about that when they are cheering an ever greater number of rotations in jumps. For pairs and dance, add in eye popping lifts.

I am glad that you came with this opinion. It shows perfectly old fashioned ideas in figure skating world.

----------------------

1) Ski jumping association decided to fight against Eating Disorders. They created rule:

To understand it better - https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/how-olympic-ski-jumpers-toe-the-line-between-falling-and-flying
- Ski length is also regulated and tied to a skier's height and weight. Skis can at most be 145% of the skier's height and skiers with a body mass index less than 21 must have shorter skis.


https://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-2018-skij-rules-idUSKCN1G314B
- Reuters article from 2018

- The new rules were introduced for the 2004-05 season.

- “In the late 90s we had in our sport the so-called ‘lightweight issue’ where athletes tended to reduce their weight in order to get a better performance on the jumping hill, and we couldn’t get rid of it,” the 63-year-old Hofer (Race Director for Ski Jumping at the International Ski Federation) said.

-“It doesn’t make any sense any more to reduce the weight, because we reduce the skis. There’s a table now so you can see, centimeter for centimeter, what kind of ski length the athlete is allowed to use,” he said.



https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16739093/
- science article from 2006

- BMI classes of ski jumpers in the season 2004/2005 were calculated from their official individual ski length limitation which is a function of their BMI.

- The percentage of underweight ski jumpers (BMI < 18.5 kg m(-2)) decreased from 22.8 % at the Olympic Games 2002 to 8.7 % in the season 2004/2005 due to the new ski jumping regulations.



Suggestion number 1: ISU can create rule about BMI on senior stage, that it cannot be lower than...


2) Fighting sports and Weightlifting are fighting for equal conditions creating different weight cathegories. This is not possible to apply in figure skating.


3) You are right that taller skaters are more heavy which is disadvantage. Higher weight means slower rotation, it takes more energy to jump in comparison with skaters with lower weight. What to speak about children and prepubertal skaters.

Based on Youtube video - https://youtu.be/XGhxEljPQog?si=NoEaPE5RdtSHlfCR - Mae Berenice Meite's weight was 69.8 kilograms at 2018. Anna Shcherbakova mentioned at some show that her weight was 40 kilograms at the 2022 Olympics (some people say 38 kilograms).

The base value of jumps for both skaters is the same. Why?

In Pair cathegory: Very Bazarova’s weight could be around 38 kilograms, Shue Shen’s weight was 45 kilograms at 2010 Olympics, Vanessa James’s weight 55 kilograms, I was looking for Daria Popova’s weight, but could not find.

In Ice Dance: Meryl Davis’s was 50 kilograms (I do believe it was less in last seasons), Madison Hubbell’s weight was 68 kilograms (taken from Eurosport page).

The Base value for lifts and throw and twist jumps are the same. Why? It does not have sense to play that all male partners of ladies above are showing the same amount of effort lifting their partners.

Based on Russian analysis in 2021 - https://www.sports.ru/tribuna/blogs/ternovblogfk/2993364.html - Anna's triple lutz has height of 44 centimeters. I do realise that is it not pure vertical jump, speed helps her but need to rotate is leading to lower jump. But let's take 44 centimeters for next experiment.


https://www.topendsports.com/testing/vertical-jump-power.htm
- “A heavier person jumping the same height as a lighter one has to do much more work to move the larger mass.“

- calculate average power - for example Lewis Formula: Average Power (Watts) = √ 4.9 x body mass (kg) x √ jump-reach score (m) x 9.81



- Anna - 40 kilograms and based on ISU 159 centimeters = BMI 15.82
- Mae - 69.8 kilograms and based on ISU 168 centimeters = BMI 24.73


- height of jump - we will use Anna's 44 centimeters in lutz jump in 2021

- to jump 44 centimeters Anna needs 576.2 Watts while Mae Berenice needs 1005.4 Watts. So Mae Berenice needs to put much more effort to jump as high as Anna (almost twice as much). But base value of all jumps is the same.

Of course Lewis formula may not be precise and it does not take into account power needed to rotate (for Mae Berenice it will be more demanding once again).


Suggestion number 2: ISU can create rules where base value of jumps and lifts will be reflecting the weight of an athlete. It would need studies how to do that based on power needed to execute jumps / lifts by skaters with different weight / BMI.

Let's imagine - lady - triple lutz + triple toe combibation - base value 10.10 points.

- weight of 50 kilograms - multiplied by 1.0
- weight of 52.5 kilograms - multiplied by 1.1
- weight of 55.0 kilograms - multiplied by 1.2
- weight of 57.5 kilograms - multiplied by 1.3
- weight of 60.0 kilograms - multiplied by 1.4
- weight of 47.5 kilograms - multiplied by 0.9
- weight of 45.0 kilograms - multiplied by 0.8
- weight of 42.5 kilograms - multiplied by 0.7

- junior skater with 40 kilograms of weight would get 7.07 points
- senior lady with 55 kilograms of weight would get 12.12 points


In my opinion these changes would destroy the need to achieve minimal weight risking health troubles and life. On the contrary skater would be awarded looking at real effort she / he puts into the element.
 

sisinka

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 25, 2006
muscular skaters do have an advantage in the sense they have more protection around their joints/tendons/ligaments and are less prone to injury.

Exactly. Ligaments and muscles are protecting the joint.
 

sisinka

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 25, 2006
Excellent post, thank for for taking the time to post in such detail and to provide references. We need to remember that our past champions come in all sizes and shapes and to make sure today's skaters are healthy athletes physically and mentally.

Thank you very much! It indeed took a lot of time. :)
YES to the second sentence!
 

sisinka

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 25, 2006
My Queen Gracie has said that when she got to some low weight it actually affected her skating negatively because she no longer had the strength needed to finish the rotations, but she was still getting praised for losing weight and encouraged to lose more. If you look at Tonya Harding she was never a stick figure but had massive jumps including the 3A decades before it was common.

Yes, so there are already four skaters pointing out that the lowest weight entering puberty did not help: Jennifer Kirk, Gracie Gold, Kaitlyn Hawayek, Tanith Belbin.
 

macy

Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 12, 2011
i know one thing, and that is i do not want to see a world where BMI is ever taken into account, for anything, ever. the BMI scale is so incredibly outdated and inaccurate in the sense it does not take into account muscle mass and does not give an accurate overall depiction of someone's health, fitness, or physical ability. especially an elite, competitive athlete- it is not designed for them.
 

CoyoteChris

Record Breaker
Joined
Dec 4, 2004
Excellent thread. I have nothing much to add except that on a general mental plain, there are many issues that face athletes. I live with an athlete so I know.....
I think this article by Emmy Ma is very well done.
 

sisinka

Final Flight
Joined
Nov 25, 2006
Yes, so there are already four skaters pointing out that the lowest weight entering puberty did not help: Jennifer Kirk, Gracie Gold, Kaitlyn Hawayek, Tanith Belbin.

Another skater who lost weight and was too weak to perform…

- article about Alexei Yagudin from 2002

- Obsessed with the notion that losing weight would enhance his speed and jumping ability, he shed nearly 20 pounds, but was too weak to perform well at the season-opening Goodwill Games in September. He finished third behind Plushenko and Michael Weiss of the U.S.

“It affected my whole life,” he said of losing the world title. “I was alone for the whole summer. I was working so much. I was not eating....
 

mikeko666

Final Flight
Joined
Apr 27, 2011
muscular skaters do have an advantage in the sense they have more protection around their joints/tendons/ligaments and are less prone to injury. i'd even go as far as saying skaters who have that sort of physique even tend to have better technique as they have the muscle mass to do it. they have the strength to have a more "proper" and efficient technique vs a very lightweight skater with less muscle mass who doesn't mainly rely on their legs to complete a jump, and relies instead on massive torque of the shoulders, arms and back (which also adds to being more injury prone). some who come to mind with a more muscular stature and pretty good technique are Sakamoto, Higuchi, Karen Chen, Tuktamysheva and Hendrickx. not saying these skaters are the pinnacle, but they are good examples. another thing to note is those five have/had good length to their senior careers - the shortest being 7 seasons and the longest being 13, and have not had to quit due to career ending injuries at this point at least.
Only a few women can be muscular like Kaori, Wakaba and Miki Ando. Akiko Suzuki once said senior women can't use the same jump techniques as junior girls or men. Their bodies are no longer small and light and can't rotate as fast as they used to. They would underrotate if they still jump like a junior girl, but they can't make jumps big by muscle power like men can. Senior women need to convert kinetic energy of speed to make jumps bigger, but the more speed you have, the more difficult to control timing, angle, etc. The ice conditions can vary from rink to rink, and the same ice can change depending on the temperature. And a skater's sense of speed can be affected by many factors like nervousness, jet lag, hormone, etc. They tend to have less speed when they are nervous. If you have too much speed, you will end up over-rotating and might fall, too. Yuna Kim was exceptionally good at controlling speed at any rink or any competition.

I remember Elene Gedevanishvili lost control of speed totally at 2012 Worlds, and have seen something similar with Gabby Daleman.

Most female skaters are afraid of falling hard on ice like that and rather choose to keep their bodies as light as possible to jump like they used to, like Mao Asada and Satoko. I also remember Elena was painfully thin at 2013 World, but can't find a video on YouTube now.
 
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