WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- American figure skater Mariah Bell is being accused of intentionally cutting the leg of her South Korean rival on Wednesday during a warmup practice for the World Championships in Japan.
- The head of the South Korean skating team made the accusations against Bell but the International Skating Union said they found no evidence that the US skater intended to hurt Lim.
- The incident quickly prompted comparisons to the scandal between American skating rivals Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan in the 90s.
U.S. figure skater Mariah Bell is being accused of intentionally cutting Lim Eun-soo, her South Korean rival, with the blade of her ice skate on Wednesday night at the World Figure Skating Championships in Japan.
According to reports, Bell allegedly came up behind Lim during practice and kicked her left calf with her skate. Lim received immediate medical attention for her injury.
The International Skating Union (ISU) said it didn’t find any evidence that the 22-year-old American intended to harm the younger figure skater.
“Based on the evidence at hand at this point in time, which includes a video, there is no evidence that Ms. Bell intended any harm to Ms. Lim,” the ISU said in an issued statement.
Photos that were posted online show the 16-year-old wincing in pain while holding her leg.
All That Sports, Lim’s management agency, told the Straits Times it appealed to the ISU after it called the incident an accident. Bell, who trains under Lim’s coach, was also accused of bullying the South Korean prior to the championships and failing to apologize for what happened.
All That Sports urged the Korea Skating Union to file a formal complaint against Bell. However, an official from the Korea Skating Union told Agence France-Presse that video clip of the incident does not support the injury as intentional.
Despite the injury, Lim went on to score a personal best ― 72.91 points ― in the short program. She came in fifth, just ahead of Bell who finished sixth.
The incident was immediately compared to the violent 1994 scandal between American figure skater Tonya Harding and her rival, Nancy Kerrigan.
Just before the Olympic trials, Harding’s ex-husband hired a man to break Kerrigan’s right leg. She recovered in time to compete at the 1994 Winter Olympics, where she won a silver medal. Harding was banned from ever competing again.