‘No Evidence’ That American Figure Skater Purposely Cut Opponent at World Championships

‘No Evidence’ That American Figure Skater Purposely Cut Opponent at World Championships
Mariah Bell competes in the Championship Ladies Free Skate during the 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, Michigan on Jan. 25, 2019. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

An American figure skater was accused of purposely cutting an opponent during the warm-ups for a world championship in Japan but the international figure skating union said that there was no evidence for the claim.

Mariah Bell, 22, allegedly kicked Lim Eun-soo, 16, of South Korea, during warm-ups. Eun-soo’s management team made the accusation.

Korean officials said they lodged a formal complaint following the incident on March 20, reported AFP. The officials said it would be “difficult to prove” that the kick was on purpose.

“At this stage we can’t conclude Bell caused the injury on purpose,” a Korea Skating Union official said. “It is hard to tell just by watching the video footage of the incident.”

A spokeswoman for the International Skating Union (ISU) said that the group was meeting on Thursday to discuss the claims.

On March 21, in an update, the union said in a statement: “The incident was verbally reported to the ISU by the Korean Team Leader however no formal complaint has been received. 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.”

An All That Sports official said on Yonhap that there was enough evidence to believe Bell’s act was premeditated.

American officials didn’t comment on the allegation. According to Yonhap, Lim and Bell both train under the same coach, Rafael Arutyunyan, and Bell was “bullying Lim for months,” Lim’s management claimed. All That Sports also said that Bell didn’t apologize after swiping Lim.

According to American Olympian figure skater Adam Rippon, though, the bullying allegations are not true.

“I’ve been to the rink multiple times and NO ONE has been bullying anyone. Stop creating [expletive] and spreading rumors. What happened in the warm up was an accident. Don’t distract both Eunsoo and Mariah from the competition,” he wrote on Twitter. “Mariah and Eunsoo are competitive and train all the time together at home. Bullying is something Rafael would never tolerate.”

Lim was treated for the injury she suffered and did compete in the event.

Bell ended up getting sixth in the short program with a score of 71.26 while Eun-soo ended in fifth with 72.91.

lim eun-soo
South Korea’s Lim Eun-soo performs during the ladies short program of the figure skating NHK Trophy in Hiroshima on Nov. 9, 2018. (Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images)

Bell told NBC Sports earlier in the year that she was looking to improve from her 10th place finish in the previous world championships and said she thought she’d matured over the season.

She was also asked if she felt like “more of a top dog” at her home rink and did mention Lim, but not by name.

“I train with Nathan [Chen] occasionally, whenever he’s back [from Yale University]. Michal Brezina, he went to the [Grand Prix] Final, a really great skater from the Czech Republic. We have a top Japanese girl who unfortunately didn’t have a great nationals, but she’s a really great skater. We have a top Korean girl who just got second at her nationals,” she said.

“I’m surrounded by a lot of great skating. I do have a little more experience which helps me. It’s really cool to train with them because they really push me. I’m not someone who’s like, ‘Oh, I’m tired,’ but I’ll be like, I’m starting to feel a little fatigued but they’re still going, so I can do a little bit more.”

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