Eating disorders, injuries, abuse, and abuse among elite skiers

Ice skating in Canada needs an overhaul and a “spring clean” for the physical and mental well-being of our athletes, Olympic athletes and experts in the field say.

Eating disorders, depression, concussion that is not taken lightly, an obsession with performance and appearance …

As part of the documentary ObsessionAired on Club illico since Thursday, seven digital skaters have taken the floor to tell how the sometimes-imposed standards of the sport have pushed them to put their health to the test.

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They agreed to certification in order to develop this sport they loved so much.

“Good spring cleaning is always essential,” says Sean Sawyer, Olympic athlete-turned-coach. […] We will have to highlight the less beautiful things, and when these things are leveled and improved, it will be a more exceptional sport. ”

Shaun Sawyer, like many other athletes, suffered from eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia. His weight has always been an obsession, so much so that he ate nothing before international competitions and weighed himself three times a day.

Shawn Sawyer, who competed in the Turin Olympics in 2006, has suffered from eating disorders for years.  He wore ski boots for the documentary squeeze.

QMI’s photo, Joel LeMay

Shawn Sawyer, who competed in the Turin Olympics in 2006, has suffered from eating disorders for years. He wore ski boots for the documentary squeeze.

Athletes who spoke to the FBI recall the period between 2006 and 2018. Some still live with after-effects from the past, including concussion or poorly treated injuries.

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It’s rare for elite athletes to speak openly about the problems they’ve been through. They have developed under the eyes of sports organizations, coaches and specialists, and the fear of offending some of them is very present.

In the country, Skate Canada is the only organization that oversees sport or trains standards and certifies coaches.

The organization has received approximately $ 3 million in public funds in each of the past two years for the World Championships to be held in Montreal.

Additionally, Skate Canada raised nearly $ 15 million over two years in registration fees from its athletes and their families.

The sequelae last

From the confessions obtained, most of the skaters have come to convince themselves to reduce their pain and condition, despite suffering serious injuries at times.

A position denounced by Sport’Aide, offering to hear from young athletes, high-profile athletes, organizations, parents and coaches. The organization has implemented more than 700 interventions since 2018.

Serious consequences

“According to a study from the University of Toronto, the consequences for individuals who have had a serious negative sporting experience: eating disorder, PTSD symptoms, suicidal thinking, depression, and the aftermath for years,” explains Sylvain Crotto, director of the department. Sport’Aide Director.

“There are people calling us with injuries [psychologiques] That lasted for more than thirty years, “he adds.

For Joëlle Carpentier, a sports psychology consultant at UQAM, some athletes have the impression that they have to struggle in order to be successful. A wrong mindset has been transmitting her for a long time and she must change according to her opinion.

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The specialist explains: “It is like normalizing the fact that you have to struggle to back away from this point.”

Few answers

Skate Canada declined our interview requests, but responded to some questions via email.

With regard to eating disorders, the organization claims to have set up training in body image and is “working with a team of professionals and academics to create training on eating disorders,” the spokeswoman responded. Amy Levak.

Many skaters reported a dislike of the weight they were being charged regularly because it was a stressful moment. It is impossible to know why this ritual occurred at that time.

Skate Canada says it no longer tolerates coaches or employees who weigh athletes into everyday practice. Only a healthcare professional can monitor the weight.

But who makes sure that this rule is followed? The organization did not respond.

The same goes for concussion. Skate Canada says it has a detailed protocol, but it’s impossible to know who is guaranteeing that it will follow.

– In collaboration with Sarah Dust Brown

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