American figure skater Mariah Bell has been accused of slashing her South Korean opponent's leg during practice, just before they both competed in the world championships.
The 22-year-old allegedly kicked 16-year-old Lim Eun-soo, hurting her leg during a warm-up session just before they were both due to take to the rink at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Japan on Wednesday. According to The Daily Mail, Lim's management agency suggested that Bell slashed Lim's leg on purpose while they were rehearsing for their appearance at the women's short program. They claim that their client was "slowly skating" on the edge of the rink after having completed her turn when the whole event took place.
"Mariah Bell, who was scheduled to rehearse after Lim, suddenly kicked and stabbed Lim's calf with her skate blades," the South Korean teen's agent told Agence France-Presse, adding that "Mariah Bell didn't apologize to Lim Eun-soo after the incident and instead continued to rehearse for her routine."
The athlete ended up suffering a gash on her calf, with the wound being treated and bandaged before she skated in her first senior world championships. And despite the incident, she ended up reaching a personal best of 72.91 points on Wednesday night's competition. This result allowed Eun-soo to rank fifth in the women's short program at Saitama — a place above Bell, who came in sixth. Both skaters will also compete in the free skate program this Friday.The International Skating Union said it was aware of the allegations against Bell, but that no actual formal complaint had been filed. The ISU even added that "based on the evidence at hand at this point in time, which includes a video," there was no reason to believe that the American skater purposefully harmed her rival.
"The ISU met with delegates from both USA and Korea and urged both parties to find an amicable solution. The ISU maintains that this remains the appropriate approach," their statement said.
Both athletes train under the same coach, Rafael Arutyunyan, and Lim's management went on to claim that Bell has been bullying her "for months." However, prominent figures such as U.S. Olympian figure skater Adam Rippon were quick to dismiss said claims."I've been to the rink multiple times and NO ONE has been bullying anyone. What happened in the warm up was an accident. Don't distract both Eunsoo and Mariah from the competition," Rippon tweeted on Wednesday. He added that competitiveness is a part of the sport, and that the two girls' coach "would never tolerate" any bullying between the two of them. The two often train together in Los Angeles.