The World Figure Skating Championships in Japan has been rocked by claims that US star Mariah Bell deliberately injured rival and training partner Lim Eun-soo of South Korea during a practice session.
The controversial incident took place on Wednesday during the official rehearsal of the ladies’ short program. Bell, 22, who was scheduled to skate right after Lim, 16, approached her Korean counterpart and allegedly cut her left leg with a skate blade.
Lim was forced to leave the rink to receive emergency treatment from medical staff following the controversial episode, which could have led to her withdrawal from the tournament.
@ISU_Figure Needs to kick out Mariah Bell from the competition and ban her for a while. It's unacceptable that this bullying situation escalates to put in danger a skater's physical integrity. #saitama2019 #WorldFigure #zagitova #medvedeva #eunsoon #kihira #satoko #FigureSkating pic.twitter.com/FFiu8Qy1m7
— I Cut Like a Buffalo (@ICutBuffalo) March 21, 2019
The International Skating Union (ISU) is set to investigate the incident after South Korea’s figure skating body lodged an official complaint, claiming the US athlete had deliberately kicked Lim with her skate.
According to Lim’s management agency All That Sports, Lim was skating close to the edge of the rink when Bell came from behind and suddenly kicked and stabbed her, cutting the skater’s left leg.
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Look my stories or swipe➡️ to the end (pics 9 and 10) for tweets. I have terrible news guys. Seems Eunsoo is bullied and injured by Mariah. After that pics these rumors seem to be true. Cant believe Mariah could have done something like that, she seemed to be so nice and sweet. Heart broken. Poor Eunsoo. Hope she gets better as soon as possible. • • FOLLOW @figureskatingsource FOR MORE • • • • #фигурноекатание #евгениямедведева #teamorser #skating #saitama #japan #figureskating #figureskater #worldfigure #worldfigure2019 #evgeniamedvedeva #alinazagitova #mariahbell #rikakihira #teamtutberidze #алиназагитова #москва #ice #iceskating #iceskater #tutberidzegirls #eunsoolim #mariahbell #scandal #teamraf
The agency also claimed that Bell had been continuously bullying Lim during preparation for the global tournament as both athletes have been training in Los Angeles under the same coach, Rafael Arutyunyan.
Despite the injury, Lim posted a season best of 72.91 points the short program, a result which put her in fifth place. Bell is ranked sixth after the short program, more than a point behind Lim.
The incident triggered debate on social media, with many figure skating fans drawing parallels between Bell and Tonya Harding – who was infamously accused of hiring an attacker to injure her teammate and main rival Nancy Kerrigan before the 1994 Winter Games.