Amer­i­can Olympian puts body im­age in spot­light

Montreal Gazette - - SPORTS - LORI EWING

Con­sider the gos­samer-thin dresses with tiny skirts, bright lights, judges and dozens of cam­eras cap­tur­ing every square inch of skin. It’s no won­der fig­ure skat­ing can de­liver a fierce blow to body im­age.

Cana­dian stars Kaet­lyn Os­mond and Mea­gan Duhamel can un­der­stand how an eat­ing dis­or­der can force a skater to back away from the sport like Amer­i­can star Gra­cie Gold. The Olympic bronze medal­list con­firmed re­cently she was be­ing treated for an eat­ing dis­or­der, along with anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion, and is sit­ting out the Grand Prix sea­son.

“I can’t say it sur­prises me, but it sad­dens me,” said Duhamel, a two-time world pairs cham­pion with part­ner Eric Rad­ford. “You don’t want any­body to have to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing like that.”

Ac­cord­ing to Canada’s Na­tional Eat­ing Dis­or­der In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre, fe­male ath­letes in es­thetic sports — fig­ure skat­ing, dance, gym­nas­tics — were found to be at the high­est risk for eat­ing dis­or­ders.

“Skat­ing is re­ally hard, es­pe­cially women’s skat­ing where we’re judged in lit­tle tiny dresses,” said Os­mond, who cap­tured her sec­ond Skate Canada In­ter­na­tional ti­tle over the week­end. “Def­i­nitely the way you see your­self makes a big dif­fer­ence and it’s re­ally hard if you are a lit­tle bit heav­ier; the jumps are harder be­cause you’re putting more weight up into the air.”

Rus­sia’s Yu­lia Lip­nit­skaya, who cap­tured gold at the Sochi Olympics, opened up about her bat­tles with anorexia. She said the dis­ease dogged her for years and she checked into a clinic last Jan­uary.

Duhamel, who with Rad­ford cap­tured the pairs ti­tle over the week­end, is all strength and power in her four-foot-10 frame, but it took her some time to ac­cept her mus­cu­lar body.

“I don’t have a fem­i­nine lean body with th­ese long lines and I tried so hard to be able to get rid of some of the mus­cle and de­velop th­ese lines, but you can’t change ge­net­ics, you can’t change your body in a healthy way to a cer­tain ex­tent,” said the 31-year-old.

Duhamel and Os­mond praised Gold, whose fu­ture in the sport re­mains in doubt, for putting her health first.

“We don’t want the sport to neg­a­tively af­fect some­body and the fact that maybe be­ing in­volved in a sport that is about per­for­mance and wear­ing th­ese lit­tle dresses on the ice, to think that might have af­fected their life in such a neg­a­tive way, it’s sad and it’s dis­ap­point­ing,” Duhamel said.

Gra­cie Gold

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