Forced starvation of skaters in Eteri's training camp

overedge

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I actually know someone who used to skate in "Holiday on Ice" for a long time and then was working behind the scenes. And he told me that even at HoI they had weight checks every other day and whenever someone had gained "too much" weight they were told to lose it ASAP. So yes, not only a purely Russian "custom".

Ice Capades did the same thing in North America. Anyone know what the current practice is in the Disney shows?
 

bladesofgorey

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Ice Capades did the same thing in North America. Anyone know what the current practice is in the Disney shows?
Not sure what it is like now, but I did a short stint in Disney on Ice years ago (and immediately got injured) and they had a narrow range skaters were allowed to be in and did either weekly or bi-weekly weigh-ins (can't remember which). It was a shitty practice that screws with your head even though I was asked to gain a couple pounds before joining. While I was there there was one skater who went overweight by their standards and they punished her by taking her out of all the corps numbers and made her wear the heavy character costumes instead. I remember her crying in the dressing room and the company manager telling her she was acting lazy and she should work harder during practices to burn off the extra weight so she could be part of the regular corp again.

BTW I was asked to join shortly after a try-out I showed up on a lark to while the show was traveling- they needed an emergency replacement for a skater who left due to -wait for it- anorexia.
 

caseyedwards

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I find it troubling that some people like to shift the blame - 'but other people do it too'. Rather than focusing on the fact the interview came from Anna, a Russian, from one of the more notorious training groups.

From the number of broken bones, injuries and other issues coming out of that camp, it's pretty alarming when you think about it over the years.

At the 2019 SKAM, I was sitting with an ER doctor, and asked her what she thought of Anna's performance. She said, the costume change was dramatic, but not as much as how malnourished she looks.

Julia L also talked about only being allowed to drink liquid meals during the 2014 Olympics and had limited water.
This is not blame shifting! It is about fairness and not allowing people to speak about Eteri like she is unique or special kind of evil when she is doing coaching handbook! This all from the coaching handbook. Maybe informal unwritten but still. You can just read the gymnastics thread to hear exact same stuff from American gymnasts. Why? Because it’s the coaching handbook. Especially coaching handbook of girls.
 

Lanie

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In Russia there is an idea of “perfect weight.” Apparently it is your height in cm - 110 = perfect weight kg.

Russian ballet schools follow this and weight guidelines are openly talked about. Dancers can be expelled from ballet academies bc of weight. https://melmoth.blog/post/142675479933/vaganova-ballet-academy-heightweight-requirement

Not an excuse for Eteri but harsh weight standards seem to be a Russian thing.
That would be about 88lbs for me. Jesus Christ. I haven't weighed that since high school. That's horrifying.

We all know disordered eating, weigh-ins, and starvation are common in our sport and it affects the men and the women. I can't imagine what all this malnourishment does to their bodies once they retire. It's a lifelong sentence, in a way.
 

PRlady

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That would be about 88lbs for me. Jesus Christ. I haven't weighed that since high school. That's horrifying.

We all know disordered eating, weigh-ins, and starvation are common in our sport and it affects the men and the women. I can't imagine what all this malnourishment does to their bodies once they retire. It's a lifelong sentence, in a way.
118 pounds for me. I got down to 123 when I almost died from sepsis and I looked like a skeleton - and I’m small-boned. I’d like to weigh ten pounds less than I do, like a lot of women, but I can’t imagine being healthy 28 pounds less.
 

misskarne

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Mine would be 62kg, and that would actually be all right if on the thin side, but it's obviously a very dangerous concept, to have a one-size-fits-all.

I don't think anyone is saying this is a uniquely Russian problem - that would be deluded - but it does seem that it is far more culturally ingrained and culturally acceptable in Russia and the problem seems far worse.in those camps, particularly Eteri's.
 

canbelto

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That would be about 88lbs for me. Jesus Christ. I haven't weighed that since high school. That's horrifying.

We all know disordered eating, weigh-ins, and starvation are common in our sport and it affects the men and the women. I can't imagine what all this malnourishment does to their bodies once they retire. It's a lifelong sentence, in a way.

Katia Gordeeva recently went back to nutrition school because she said a lifetime of figure skating made her have a very messed up relationship with food. She didn't exactly say disordered eating, but it wouldn't surprise me.
She hasn't competed competitively in decades. But it's apparently stayed with her.
 

overedge

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I looked on the Feld Entertainment site for Disney on Ice auditions (https://www.feldentertainment.com/performer-auditions/disney-on-ice/#skater) and found this:

Do I have to be a specific height or weight?
No. Although in casting we may be filling a position that requires a certain height. We look for a healthy, fit look and evaluate appearance on an individual basis.

"Healthy, fit look" is pretty subjective. They also ask for height and weight on the resume that's submitted to them.
 

Lanie

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118 pounds for me. I got down to 123 when I almost died from sepsis and I looked like a skeleton - and I’m small-boned. I’d like to weigh ten pounds less than I do, like a lot of women, but I can’t imagine being healthy 28 pounds less.
I'm at 118-120, which is a bit high for me but as you know I am STUPIDLY SHORT. Like most skaters are tall compared to me except the juniors. :rofl:

I can only imagine how much this mentality stays with you physically, and mentally; it affects growth, it affects your bone density, all of it. Sounds like a world of hurt as you get older even if you have dealt with your relationship to food and such.

It doesn't shock me Anna, and the other girls, would be expected to weigh so little and yet expend so much energy. Skating burns so many calories.
 

Lynn226

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I would have to weigh 99 pounds per the formula above. I weighed that in elementary school. I had hips, but I was still pretty thin in high school. I graduated weighing 115 lbs, but had been 110 lbs until I developed a painful cyst that made me less active. My family's diet was unhealthy because we couldn't afford better. Even with a healthier diet, I don't think I would have been 99 pounds.
 

bladesofgorey

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Editing this post to add:
If you are someone reading this thread, struggling with these issues, or feeling triggered by people posting outlandishly dangerous Russian ballet weight charts, there is help available.
Please contact
https://anad.org/ or similar organizations in your country if you are struggling.
********************************************

Just to inject some science into this, one of the physical criteria for anorexia is maintaining a BMI of less than 17.5 or 17 (depending on which criteria is consulted) while being fearful of gaining weight.

Criteria for Diagnosing Anorexia Nervosa

Refusal or inability to maintain a normal body weight.

    • Adults: less than 85 percent of ideal body weight or a body mass index (BMI) of 17.5 or lower
    • Children: less than 85 percent of body weight expected for age and height or failure to gain weight during a growth period, leading to body weight less than 85 percent of that expected
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat
  • Body image disturbance
  • Denial of the seriousness of low weight
  • At least three skipped menstrual periods in a row (for females who have begun menstruating)
*********************************************
https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2015/0101/p46.html

"Although approximately one-half of patients with anorexia nervosa fully recover, about 30% achieve only partial recovery, and 20% remain chronically ill.38 Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder, with an estimated all-cause standardized mortality ratio of 1.7 to 5.9.

The prognosis for bulimia nervosa is more favorable, with up to 80% of patients achieving remission with treatment. However, the 20% relapse rate represents a significant clinical challenge, and the disorder is associated with an elevated all-cause standardized mortality ratio of 1.6 to 1.9"

***************************************************************

New findings from the largest study to date by an international group of neuroscience experts show significant reductions in grey matter in people with anorexia nervosa.
********************************************************

Combination of Genetics, Stress,DietingTriggers Anorexia-Like Condition in Mice

"Our findings show that having the at-risk genotype alone is not sufficient to cause anorexia-like behavior, but it confers susceptibility to social stress and dieting, especially during adolescence,” said Dr. Zeltser. “You need all of these variables in place to see this robust effect on eating behavior.”

****************************************************************
 
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Willin

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The "other people do it too" is just to point out that body shaming and disordered eating in figure skating are way more widespread than one coach, and that Russian coaches and teachers are notorious for sticking to their idea of "perfect weight."

Harsh coaching becomes a cycle too. Like Aljona Savchenko complained about the harsh coaching and weight shaming she experienced, but apparently became even harsher when she coached herself.

Eteri is not alone about weight. Her problems that DO seem unique to her are her jump technique teaching which does seem to have an expiration date, feuding in the press with teenaged former students, and extreme doping.
I think the most damaging thing was that skaters were starting to turn the corner on weight until Eteri.

In the US/Canada there were a lot of papers done about anorexia in skaters, and USFS had articles over the 2010s talking about weight - skating magazine now even features a nutrition column. In Europe and Japan we saw (and continue to see) the rise of the muscular skater and skaters in a wider range of countries started talking about their eating disorders. Adam and Ashley helped convert Rafael to the idea that muscles and healthy weight gain aren't bad.

But then when they saw Eteri's success it seems some coaches are heavily reliant on the Eteri physique again...

Not sure what it is like now, but I did a short stint in Disney on Ice years ago (and immediately got injured) and they had a narrow range skaters were allowed to be in and did either weekly or bi-weekly weigh-ins (can't remember which). It was a shitty practice that screws with your head even though I was asked to gain a couple pounds before joining. While I was there there was one skater who went overweight by their standards and they punished her by taking her out of all the corps numbers and made her wear the heavy character costumes instead. I remember her crying in the dressing room and the company manager telling her she was acting lazy and she should work harder during practices to burn off the extra weight so she could be part of the regular corp again.

BTW I was asked to join shortly after a try-out I showed up on a lark to while the show was traveling- they needed an emergency replacement for a skater who left due to -wait for it- anorexia.
Even the Disney Parks are bad about this - the face characters have to fit one exact size. I know a seamstress who does the princess dresses for the parks. There's only one pattern made for each dress because it's a requirement of the job to fit into it.

Mine would be 62kg, and that would actually be all right if on the thin side, but it's obviously a very dangerous concept, to have a one-size-fits-all.

I don't think anyone is saying this is a uniquely Russian problem - that would be deluded - but it does seem that it is far more culturally ingrained and culturally acceptable in Russia and the problem seems far worse.in those camps, particularly Eteri's.
Of for sure. There's more muscular skaters in Russia like Liza - and although Liza was called fat (in what universe?) she never seemed to be forced to be that skinny.

We've also seen that other countries have banned or at least made taboo tactics that Eteri's camp explicitly endoreses: frequent weigh-ins, weight goals that are not healthy, diet restrictions, water restrictions, etc. In fact, North America and Europe would probably laugh at these tactics if they weren't so horrific. Athletic training here - including for skaters in healthier environments (and at USFS Champs Camp) focuses a lot more on gorging yourself in a healthy manner. Eat lots of protein. Drink lots of water. Eat calories pre/post workout to prevent dehydration and exhaustion. It's not unusual for Olympians of pro athletes here to eat 5000 calories/day and drink 5L of water to fuel their training in a healthy manner.
 

Hedwig

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To all the people who are discussing their own weight now- please don’t. I know from my brother in law who is anorexic how triggering that is. Especially in this context and especially if you add comments like „that weight is okay“ or „I weigh even less, but“ (the but is not registered anymore but the number is)
 

B.Cooper

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"I'm pretty sure" means nothing here. It's a perception. And you contribute to the problem, since girls bodies is all you talk about.
Boys have bodies too. In all shapes. And from what i can see, body shaming boys is also being normalized. You constantly see comments about their size, how small/tall/muscular/not muscular they are, comments about their as* and legs and so on. Maybe it's a "cultural norm" that it's somehow shameful for boys to talk about how they keep themselves fit. It's also expected that they have a certain amount of muscles (i did see comments toward pairs men that they "should go to the gym" ). You think these things happen automatically to boys and they don't have to make sacrifices, counting calories, doing extreme workouts and diets or?
Since there's almost no talk about this, how do you wanna know the problem is more widespread in girls?
From the National Eating Disorders Association

Some basic statistics with regards to athletes, both men and women with much of the data for NCAA and high school elite level athletes (and all of this information has the associated journal articles and research sited with each stat)
  • In a study of Division 1 NCAA athletes, over one-third of female athletes reported attitudes and symptoms placing them at risk for anorexia nervosa.
  • Though most athletes with eating disorders are female, male athletes are also at risk—especially those competing in sports that tend to emphasize diet, appearance, size and weight. In weight-class sports (wrestling, rowing, horseracing) and aesthetic sports (bodybuilding, gymnastics, swimming, diving) about 33% of male athletes are affected. In female athletes in weight class and aesthetic sports, disordered eating occurs at estimates of up to 62%. (Draw your own conclusion on those numbers in figure skating)
  • Among female high school athletes in aesthetic sports, 41.5% reported disordered eating. They were eight times more likely to incur an injury than athletes in aesthetic sports who did not report disordered eating.
  • One study found that 35% of female and 10% of male college athletes were at risk for anorexia nervosa and 58% of female and 38% of male college athletes were at risk for bulimia nervosa.
  • The prevalence of eating disorders in college athletes is higher among dancers and the most elite college athletes, particularly those involved with sports that emphasize a lean physique or weight restriction (e.g., figure skating, wrestling, rowing).
  • Among female college athletes surveyed, 25.5% had subclinical eating disorder symptoms.
  • In a survey of athletic trainers working with female collegiate athletes, only 27% felt confident identifying an athlete with an eating disorder. Despite this, 91% of athletic trainers reported dealing with an athlete with an eating disorder. 93% of trainers felt that increased attention needs to be paid to preventing eating disorders among collegiate female athletes. 25% worked at an institution without a policy on managing eating disorders.
  • A study of female Division II college athletes found that 25% had disordered eating, 26% reported menstrual dysfunction, 10% had low bone mineral density, and 2.6% had all three symptoms.
  • Female high school athletes reporting disordered eating were twice as likely to incur a musculoskeletal injury as athletes who did not report disordered eating.
Now, take the training load into consideration for figure skaters...you can only imagine that with disordered eating habits and its associated physiological repercussions due to loss of muscle and bone mass, in addition to electrolyte imbalance, ie sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, magnesium, etc... and the associated organ and cellular membrane dysfunctions that can occur...and the list is pretty long....cardiac arrhythmia, kidney dysfunction, blood pressure irregularities, cell to cell signaling (central nervous system dysfunction)...the list goes on...and this is just on top of decreased skeletal strength and potential broken bones, tears in musculature, and the general fact that the body can NOT recover sufficiently after a training day because of the lack of metabolic resources.....and this occurs over a period of years with poor nutrition, overloading training by coaches and subsequent chronic injury cycle because the body does not have time to recover.

So, yes, eating disorders affect both men and women in sport, and esp in figure skating. And it is not just your "typical" eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia but it also includes ARFID (avoidant/restricted food intake disorder), binge eating, bullying/body/weight shaming, co-occuring disorders (many times obsessive/compulsive orders, depression, etc are co-diagnosed with EDs); compulsive exercise, diabulimia (EDs combined with insulin restriction); the list goes on......


A troubling note was that many trainers felt uncomfortable or insufficiently educated to help talk to an athlete about eating disorders. And, with the coaches essentially "running the show", one can only imagine that at the elite athlete level, open conversations about the overall health and well being of the athlete is not always the priority of the coach..bc of course they want the athlete to return to action if they are injured.

Many coaches only see the "obvious" injuries...a torn ACL, broken bones, bruises, severe concussions....it is the hidden aspect of disordered eating which contributes to a greater extent to athlete injuries, especially chronic injuries in conjunction with training loads, that the metabolic component contributes to every system within the human body and sadly, leads to long term damage of the body.
 
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bardtoob

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In fact, North America and Europe would probably laugh at these tactics if they weren't so horrific. Athletic training here - including for skaters in healthier environments (and at USFS Champs Camp) focuses a lot more on gorging yourself in a healthy manner. Eat lots of protein. Drink lots of water. Eat calories pre/post workout to prevent dehydration and exhaustion.

I think this is one of the reasons that lead to the change in body type in gymnastics.

Below is a link to what Aly Raisman said she ate in a day, I think it is a totally reasonable diet of minimally processed foods.

 
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