Athlete Mental Health & Eating Disorders - a news & discussion thread

B.Cooper

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518
The USOPC and it's NGBs...cough cough...USFS.... should take advantage of the programs offered nationally at U Wash in St. Louis as well as at NCEED, the National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Program coming up at the end of this week at NCEED:
"Treating Athletes with Eating Disorders and Unhealthy Sport Environments."


But for some reason, USFS still continues to brush aside this aspect of the sport. It is not openly addressed.
 

Sylvia

Rooting for underdogs!
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73,432
FSO's Maura Sullivan Hill recaps Karen Chen's Zoom talk from last week:
Excerpts:
“I work with my sports psychologist really closely, and I tell her, sometimes I go into my most difficult jumping pass or my most difficult element, and all I can think about is the times I wasn’t successful, and just a million thoughts going through my mind,” Chen said during a virtual talk about mental health on June 1, 2022. “So self-doubt is something that I’ve faced and that I’ve had to really try to overcome.”
Chen shared these and other thoughts on prioritizing mental health via Zoom during the talk, which was titled “Karen Chen on keeping calm under pressure” and offered by Connections Academy, the fully online public school where she earned her high school degree.
“In a way, I’m hoping that opening up about this can help somebody out there. Even if it is just one person, that would absolutely mean the world to me,” said Chen.
“It’s hard for me to differentiate my skating accomplishments and my identity. I always get those two mixed together,” said Chen, who is also a student at Cornell University. “So when I don’t have the best skates, I feel like I let myself down. I feel like I let my family down. I feel like I let my coaches down. I feel like I failed as a student, I failed as an athlete, I failed as a daughter. And that’s something that I’m still working on — to learn to differentiate my self-worth and identity [from] my success as an athlete.
 

Sylvia

Rooting for underdogs!
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Hannah Miller retired from competition after 2019 U.S. Nationals in Detroit -- she described that competition as one of her favorite career memories after the 11-minute mark of the YouTube video linked below -- and, this spring, attained her Master of Science in Kinesiology degree from Michigan State University (where she was an undergraduate as well) while coaching figure skating on the side. This fall she "will begin the Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology Ph.D. program at West Virginia University": https://www.instagram.com/p/CdjhgBHp_TM/

THE NEXT STEP podcast with Keiton Hall - episode dated June 29, 2022 is titled World Class Figure Skating, Sport Psychology and Athlete Mental Health with Hannah Miller (1 hour 9 mins.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ja9tdwpgWtE
Caption:
Grit. Grace. Beauty. Brains. World class physical and mental performance. Hannah Miller makes you think her last name is Montana the way she has embodied the best of both worlds in her life.
A First Act made up of national and international figure skating while maintaining valedictorian status is ambitious and impressive to merely set as a goal, let alone actually achieve it (spoiler, she did). However, the glory and the accolades rarely ever tell the full story.
We talk about the importance of, and what balance in life actually looks like, the exhilarating highs of performing on a world stage, and the unseen struggles of mental health in athletic performance that's become so prevalent today. Hannah shares how her impossible decision to step away from her life in figure skating not only helped her regain her mind and happiness, but also uncovered her desire to become a sport psychologist and help those who go through what she did.
If you've ever felt like you lost a piece of your identity after your First Act ended, like you're drifting through days without an end goal, or that you haven't found that new passion or purpose that will leave you fulfilled, join us as we learn and grow together on The Next Act.


Apple Podcast link: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podca...t-psychology-and/id1605493526?i=1000568109679

Short clips/preview here: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CfZx5SNpmRc/
 

Sylvia

Rooting for underdogs!
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73,432
Continuing on the topic of mental health and the how emotions as a result of / the amount of time for transitioning from retirement to the next chapter(s) are very different for every individual...

Tarah Kayne and Dylan Moscovitch conversed on IG Live earlier today and both shared the individual struggles they each had to deal with since they retired, including searching for their identities beyond skating: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CfekwnCqG-Q/
 
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B.Cooper

Well-Known Member
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518
As a follow up to the post above from @Sylvia on the retirement of Tarah Kayne and Dylan Moscovitch....
Athlete's Soul, https://www.athletessoul.org, chaired by Miriam Glez, (2 time Olympian in synchronized swimming and also a team leader and coach for another two Olympic cycles), is a group that helps retiring athletes transition from competition to the next chapter of their lives.


One of their recent panels included a group of elite athletes from a broad spectrum of sports from football, swimming and figure skating.... including Prince Daniels Jr (former NFL running back), Taj Dashaun (NCAA football) Madeline Barlow (NCAA swimmer) and Rachael Flatt (2010 US Champion and Olympian).

Their panel discussion was "Reducing the Risk of Burnout Post-Sports", a timely conversation as many skaters have retired this summer following the conclusion of another Olympic cycle.


Flatt also did a Zoom call with Glez earlier during the pandemic on the process of moving out of competition into the next chapter

Not sure if the USOPC promotes their career and education program as much as they could....
 
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Garden Kitty

Tranquillo
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29,304
Maybe this should go in Other Sports since the athlete in question is a Ski Mountaineering competitor and mountain runner, but this is a good column in Outside about an athlete dealing with a recurrence of her eating disorder. The issues she raises are similar to athletes in many other sports, including skating.

 

Sylvia

Rooting for underdogs!
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73,432
Swedish national team figure skater Cassandra Johansson retired at the age of 21 at the end of the 2020-21 season - link to her ISU bio: http://www.isuresults.com/bios/isufs00014562.htm

On July 6, 2022, she posted about her struggle with anorexia and shared "some perceptions of eating disorders and some typical symptoms to be able to spot eating disorders earlier so we can get more knowledge and help each other": https://instagram.com/p/CfrxjdXMX9P/
Machine translated screenshots of her post are linked in my tweet: https://twitter.com/SylviaUnseen/status/1555293124821483520
 

Evilynn

((Swedish skating dudes))
Messages
2,701
Swedish national team figure skater Cassandra Johansson retired at the age of 21 at the end of the 2020-21 season - link to her ISU bio: http://www.isuresults.com/bios/isufs00014562.htm

On July 6, 2022, she posted about her struggle with anorexia and shared "some perceptions of eating disorders and some typical symptoms to be able to spot eating disorders earlier so we can get more knowledge and help each other": https://instagram.com/p/CfrxjdXMX9P/
Machine translated screenshots of her post are linked in my tweet: https://twitter.com/SylviaUnseen/status/1555293124821483520
A note on the machine translation, "care" in this case is short "medical care", so medical staff actually said "Get treatment? But you're not skeletal" when she was looking for help. 😑
 

Sylvia

Rooting for underdogs!
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73,432
Published by sport24.ru on Sept. 14, 2022:
Machine translated excerpt from the beginning:
The abbreviation "RPP" [РПП] has been familiar to many since adolescence. Someone else’s mockery, the ideal body of a model on the catwalk, or someone’s, at first glance, harmless “you gained something” can result in serious health problems from a simple thought “I’ll lose a couple of kilograms”.

Figure skater and Sport24 correspondent Anastasia Skoptsova herself faced this. Nastya decided not only to talk about her problems, but also to devote a whole film to RPP on our YouTube channel "Figure". Below are its main passages."
Translation of Anastasia Skoptsova's [spelled Skoptcova by the ISU] part:

Translation of Stanislava Konstantinova's part:

The 1-hour-37-minute YouTube video is embedded here:
Anorexia, bulimia, compulsive overeating are eating disorders that affect a huge number of people around the world from year to year. Athletes, who are required to be in sight, to be a role model for children, strive to bring their appearance to the ideal. Sometimes the methods to achieve the goal are unsafe and lead to serious consequences, including the development of a mental illness such as eating disorder. Together with clinical psychologist Elena Khovanskaya, ex-doctor of the Russian national football team Eduard Bezuglov, four-time world champion in rhythmic gymnastics Alexandra Soldatova, bronze medalist of the Winter Universiade 2019 in figure skating Stanislava Konstantinova and Anastasia Skoptsova, we tried to understand the causes of eating disorders in athletes. How to deal with an eating disorder, how to talk about it,
 
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Frau Muller

From Puerto Rico…With Love!
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18,417
Unbelievable, yet refreshing, that this was produced in Russia! This of course focuses on sports but perhaps the producers will someday have the guts to tackle the same issue in the world of ballet. That may be the ultimate bridge too far, given all of the national pride tied to the “perfect all-bones swan physique” expected by the general Russian public, especially post-1960s (after the fuller-figured Ulanova; pre-Bessmertnova).
 

PRlady

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41,242
When S/A won Junior Worlds I remember thinking she was so thin, with her long neck she looked like an ostrich. I’m glad she’s coming back to health but am afraid, reading between the lines, that she may suffer from permanent IBS.
 

clairecloutier

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13,923
Here is a Twitter thread with some quotes from the Skoptcova/Konstantinova TV interviews.


At the end of this thread, there is reaction to the interviews from Alina Ustimkina, and an article about Amina Atakhanova. Both of these women say that they suffered from eating disorders as well, and retired early in part or entirely due to their EDs. :( (For those who may not remember them, Ustimkina and Atakhanova were both Russian pairs skaters who were successful on the JGP level a few years back but did not make it to senior internat'l competition.)
 

GoneWithTheWind

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Messages
146
I hope this is the right thread for this, and I wanted to share Kirsten Moore Towers' tweets highlighting issues with the commentary at some skating competitions:


I completely agree with her that this is an issue that needs addressing; commentators do not need to be making comments about any skater's size/height/weight in any discipline or make reference to supposed 'ideal' sizes for skating partners. I'm fed up with hearing ice dance commentators discussing the lack of height difference between teams like H/B and G/F, often phrased by saying the female half of the partnership is too "big" for the man, or on one occasion that the man needed heel lifts in his skates in order to have "a fighting chance with that partner of his".
 

Sylvia

Rooting for underdogs!
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Kirsten Moore-Towers tweeted again today after Michail Savitskiy (19-year-old German ice dancer with Darya Grimm - they recently won the gold at the Riga JGP - who handled all the Nebelhorn Trophy livestream commentary by himself) responded to what she wrote yesterday (@GoneWithTheWind's post above): https://twitter.com/Kirsten_MT/status/1573738387827466240
Copying out Savitskiy’s full reply below:

Oh, that‘s totally my bad, I wasn‘t aware that this was such a big issue. Now that I‘m thinking back, that was totally not okay for me to bring that up… I know, that doesn‘t justify anything, but that was the last event on that day and after 8 hours of commentating and especially since that was my first time commentating, I lost a little bit of my concentration and was trying to come up with something to talk about and not repeat myself over and over again.

I‘ll make sure, that in the future I won‘t bring that subject up ever again and I apologize to everyone, that I have insulted and maybe even scared off to try this wonderful discipline.
That was totally not my goal and I am truly sorry for what I‘ve said! I‘m still young and learning and maturing with every day! So thank you so much for bringing that up and spreading awareness about such issues! This is very important and I appreciate it!

I unfortunately do not own a Twitter account, so I would appreciate it if you could post a screenshot of this chat on that discussion, so people know that this was not my original intention…
And also thank you so much for sending me that discussion and pointing that out!
 

GoneWithTheWind

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146
Kirsten Moore-Towers tweeted again today after Michail Savitskiy (19-year-old German ice dancer with Darya Grimm - they recently won the gold at the Riga JGP - who handled all the Nebelhorn Trophy livestream commentary by himself) responded to what she wrote yesterday: https://twitter.com/Kirsten_MT/status/1573738387827466240
Copying out Savitskiy’s full reply below:

Oh, that‘s totally my bad, I wasn‘t aware that this was such a big issue. Now that I‘m thinking back, that was totally not okay for me to bring that up… I know, that doesn‘t justify anything, but that was the last event on that day and after 8 hours of commentating and especially since that was my first time commentating, I lost a little bit of my concentration and was trying to come up with something to talk about and not repeat myself over and over again.

I‘ll make sure, that in the future I won‘t bring that subject up ever again and I apologize to everyone, that I have insulted and maybe even scared off to try this wonderful discipline
That was totally not my goal and I am truly sorry for what I‘ve said! I‘m still young and learning and maturing with every day! So thank you so much for bringing that up and spreading awareness about such issues! This is very important and I appreciate it!

I unfortunately do not own a Twitter account, so I would appreciate it if you could post a screenshot of this chat on that discussion, so people know that this was not my original intention…
And also thank you so much for sending me that discussion and pointing that out!
Bravo Michail for such a gracious and heartfelt response! I saw a comment on Kirsten's post saying that he also apologised during his commentary on the gala.
 

Trillian

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686
Bravo Michail for such a gracious and heartfelt response! I saw a comment on Kirsten's post saying that he also apologised during his commentary on the gala.

I agree, his response seems sincere and thoughtful, and I appreciate that he wanted to make sure it was shared across platforms. I have already been super impressed with Michail and Darya’s skating, so this is just another good reason to root for them.
 

Louis

Private citizen
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18,258
I see the PC police are at it again :rolleyes:. Pairs skating costs a lot of money and is a huge investment in time. Not to mention that there are real safety issues involved. A century of data tells us that there is a formula to follow, both in terms of getting good results and in terms of making sure both partners are safe. Let's be realistic. We shouldn't pretend we can create an elite pair from a 5'5" 120 lb girl and a 5'9" 160 lb guy. When one or both of them get injured or die from a lift collapsing, I guess the PC police can celebrate.
 

LeafOnTheWind

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@Louis

I think those are conversations best left for the athletes and coaches rather than commentators and fans who don't have enough information to say much of anything constructive at all. This sport already has too much of a problem with eating disorders and body shaming. We had several years where Russia dictated the demands on women and we've had the "you bleed you leave" methodology.

I don't like excessive PC policing either but I am also tired of a sport dominated largely by women treating us as if adulthood is something shameful or bad that prevents us from participating.
 

Debbie S

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^ Agree. I'm sure any size differential issues are being dealt with privately. Coaches, skaters and parents are well aware of safety issues/risks. There's no need for commentators, who have no idea what is going on in a team's daily training, to make these comments publicly. It's not as if fans are benefiting from hearing them, and coaches and skaters don't need commentary in order to make career decisions.
 

Louis

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What did he actually say? I have to admit, I found his commentary beyond tedious. That said, it's perfectly justifiable for a commentator to explain to viewers, e.g., that the vast majority of pairs champions have at least 9-10 inches of height difference and often closer to a foot, or that pairs without much height/weight difference are often at a disadvantage. If he said that a skater was heifer, that no woman above 5'5" or 100 lb should ever try pairs, etc., etc., then an apology was necessary. But judging from his otherwise saccharine commentary, I doubt that.
 

PRlady

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He went on about how the Japanese pair guy isn’t “big and buff” and that made lifts etc harder. He didn’t say the girl was too big. It did come off a bit like “Asian guys aren’t big enough for pairs” as if Cong Han wasn’t OGM.
 

clairecloutier

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Savitskiy also pointed to the new French couple Piegad/Strekalin as having the "right" kind of size differential in pairs (as in, she being noticeably small, and smaller than him). (Shades of Scott Hamilton's unfortunately-never-to-be-forgotten "Mishkutienok is a big girl" comment.)

I just agree with @mpal2 that this stuff doesn't need to be talked about by commentators. This kind of public height/size shaming/commentary. It just perpetuates bad stuff in the sport. It's not good. Like KMT, I cringed the second I heard it start to come out of his mouth. This kind of commentary is too problematic these days.
 

tony

The older, the crankier
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13,466
He went on about how the Japanese pair guy isn’t “big and buff” and that made lifts etc harder. He didn’t say the girl was too big. It did come off a bit like “Asian guys aren’t big enough for pairs” as if Cong Han wasn’t OGM.
I don’t think that’s why there was concern. He made a comment about one pair having an obvious size difference, noting that the man was built and strong and the woman was small. I forget which team it was (ETA- @clairecloutier noted it just as I posted), but the intention there was probably to say they were matched nicely but it came out wrong.
 

Trillian

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686
I see the PC police are at it again :rolleyes:.

I see the men who get their feelings hurt whenever someone suggests that women are entitled to talk back when men decide to publicly voice their opinions about our bodies are at it again. :rolleyes:

People directly involved in a pair’s partnership are the people who get to have conversations about the skaters’ physical attributes in relation to one another. Anyone else who does might be told it’s none of their business. Glad Michail was at least mature enough to accept that, even if others aren’t.
 

Sylvia

Rooting for underdogs!
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Gracie Gold posted on her Instagram last month that that she is "so incredibly honored to be receiving the 2022 Bell of Hope Award for my work in helping to break the stigma surrounding mental health 🖤" on Thursday, October 6th in Philadelphia: https://www.instagram.com/p/CijDGFcjQXV/

Info/tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/23rd-a...pic-medalist-gracie-gold-tickets-354702022297
Mental Health Partnerships’ Bell of Hope Award is presented annually to an individual who has made significant and far-reaching contributions to improving the lives of individuals with mental health and addiction challenges and their family members. The 2022 Bell of Hope award honoree is Gracie Gold. Gracie is an accomplished figure skater, a two-time U.S. Champion, an Olympic team bronze medalist, and the only American woman to win the NHK Trophy. She courageously put her skating career on hold to focus on her mental health recovery. Gracie recently returned to the ice and has become a passionate mental health advocate. We look forward to celebrating MHP’s accomplishments and hearing Gracie’s story with you.
 

Debbie S

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tony

The older, the crankier
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Kaitlin Hawayek posted this vid on IG. (WTF? That fan should be banned.)

I have no idea who the fan was, where they came from, how long they've followed the sport, or what age group they fall into, but we unfortunately see roundabout comments pertaining to the topic even on FSU.
 

clairecloutier

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I'm really in awe of Kaitlin for this message.

I'm also a little bit tearful that she had to deal with this at Skate America. And that so many skaters have to deal with these continuous horrible comments. :(

Skaters are strong people, to persist through all this negativity.
 

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