Episode 8: Medical Corner of Figure Skating - Transcript


Maryam: You're In The Loop - we're here to discuss the ups, downs and sideways of the sport of figure skating, and maybe give you +5 GOE along the way. Let’s introduce this weeks hosts:

Hi, I’m Maryam. I’m a volunteer medical First Responder, I teach first aid, and I use figure skating as a coping method, you can find me on Twitter at @luckyyloopss.

Nina: Hi, I’m Nina. I’m in medical school and scream about figure skating for stress relief. You can find me on Twitter at @yonkaitenpooh.

Karly: Hi, I’m Karly. I’m an engineering student working on a side figure skating nerd career. You can find me on twitter at @cyberswansp.

Nina: And unfortunately one of our other hosts you might remember, Dani, couldn’t be here today but we’re going to be presenting some of her personal experiences as a skater.

Karly: Welcome to episode 8 of In The Loop! We’re glad to have you here, this is our medical corner. As usual, we’re gonna start off with a some news.

Nina: So, some of the Junior Grand Prix and Challenger Series lineups have been released. Please refer to our Twitter (@InTheLoPodcast) for more information with the lineups.

Karly: Yeah, I’m really excited. We have Cha Jun Hwan (KOR) at Autumn Classic, which I’m really excited for cause I get to see that.

Maryam: Yeah, me too.

Nina: Autumn Classic TCC!

Karly: The TCC field trip. You can refer to our Twitter for all the lineups, but, some important things: we have US Classic, Autumn Classic the full lineup isn’t out, but Skate Canada did release their assignments.

Nina: Also, given the new judging system with the +5/-5 GOE - the ISU has scrapped all the previous World Records, they’ve been archived as “historic records.” And so now we’d like to give a brief thanks to our current men’s world record holder Sota Yamamoto.

Karly: Ugh I’m so excited. And then in some happy news, Grant Hochstein and Caroline Zhang got married.

Maryam: Yeah, I saw their photos -  Carolina looked so good.

Karly: Jason Brown was at the wedding looking good in his new hair.

Nina: Yes, and in some more sad news, Tatsuki Machida has performed his last show at Prince Ice World in Hiroshima, and we’re all very, very sad and we will miss him from professional skating.

Karly: Nina and Karly are a little bit extra sad.

Maryam: I wish him well in his research and all that he has to do but-

Nina: He’s still in Japan Open!

Maryam: Oh yeah! We’ll still get to see him, but I’ll miss his presence.

Karly: I’m going to miss his 8 minute long exhibitions. 

Nina: For more news make sure to check out our brand new website, inthelopodcast.com, for a roundup of all the figure skating stories you may have missed.

-end segment-

START: Medical corner

Maryam: Before we start, we just want to say that this episode does not claim to provide professional medical advice or analysis, but shares insights on injuries from the perspective of people with related backgrounds. Not all injuries can be covered so we have chosen select incidents to discuss. While we do our best to ensure our analysis is backed by research and is as accurate as possible, we are open to corrections so please let us know via Twitter or Tumblr. 

Please be aware that we will be discussing serious injuries in medical detail in this episode, which can be triggering for some.

Karly: Alright, so we’re gonna start off with detailing some types of injuries, and we have a lot of examples cause God knows we’re never running out of injuries in figure skating. No matter how good you are, ice is still slippery, blades are still sharp, and you will find yourself injured sometime in your figure skating career, if you ever decide to strap on a pair of skates.  Speaking from personal input, I’ve been in a pair of skates, I’ve fallen, I’ve hurt myself.

Maryam: Yep, can confirm. 

Nina: I mean, first time I skated I fell down on the ice and hit my head.

Karly: If you take any figure skater, and ask them if they’ve been badly injured in the last year, the answer would most likely be yes. So, let’s try this right now, Maryam, you’ve been a figure skater for a while, have you had pain anywhere in the past year?

Maryam: Yeah, for sure. I’ve only been skating since last year but I’ve still had my fair share of skating pains. I’ve gotten stitches on my head because - like I was trying to spray my friend with the ice and just fell on a stupid stop. Had to get stitches because my glasses went into my head, so I’m never skating with glasses again. Another time I fell on a spiral and had pain walking for three days. Had cramps because of incorrectly fitting boots from multiple sessions in a row, and have had to take multiple breaks at the sides of the rink just to take a breather cause the cramps would get that bad. So this is an insert from Dani, but let me just say that if you’re a figure skater and don’t have stitches yet - you will.

Nina: Ouch.

Maryam: *laughs* It’s the truth, just accept it right now.

Karly: So, let’s start off with ankles and feet, which is where I assume kind of most injuries are, because you put a lot of pressure on your feet. So, what exactly are boot problems, what’s really going on when your faves talk about boot problems? Stiffness in figure skating boots put a lot of pressure on the ankle - especially brand new boots that take a while to break in. Pain areas include the ankle bone, the fibula, and the tendon right next to the achilles on the inside of the ankle. The affected skater may need to change boot manufacturers, put padding around the affected area, and assure good foot and blade placement relating to the boot. Personal input from not-a-skater (laughter ensues) my ankles suck and whenever I put on figure skating boots, I always notice how stiff they are. The rental skates, of course. 

Nina: I mean, aren’t those made of like, plastic? Which would probably have a lot to do with it?

Maryam: Like the first time I put my skates on, I used to skate with hockey skates which are so loose around your ankle, but these ones are so stiff that it causes you cramps if you’re not used to it at first. So there’s definitely a break-in period for every figure skate. It just depends on the stiffness of the skate itself. 

Nina: “Lace Bite” occurs when pressure is put on the ligaments that connect bones on the lower front part of your shin from improper lacing technique or the material that makes the tongue of the boot - the part that sticks up in between the two sides - is not supportive enough. Skaters often have to use special ways of tying their laces to help minimize lace bite pressure. 

Maryam: So I’ve had incorrectly fitting boots for a while, they’ve been too tight around the ankle, so I’ve been tying my skates too tight and over the past year developed kind of minor inflammation in the part where the laces are tied over my ankle and the skin is so dry to the point where it’s discoloured. Gel pads have helped with those. But for some people, they only help so much so the only thing you can do is maybe change your lacing technique or just get a whole different boot if the model doesn’t fit you. 

Nina: What’s the difference between different types of boots?

Maryam: So some boots are made to be wider than others, some narrower than others - like the standard size is super narrow or the standard size is super wide, so it just depends on your foot and you have to get it fit customized so you can’t just order boots online, no matter how tempting or cheap, even if it’s half off. In the end it’s your ankle and foot that are important and you will be miserable if your boots cause you pain every time that you step onto the ice. The peroneal muscles around the ankle area are relatively weak for competitive figure skaters because the whole time you’re skating, your ankle is basically locked in this very tight and stiff boot and unless you do very specific ankle strength exercises off ice, such as ankle weights, they will not gain any strength for the time you’re skating. 

Karly: Yeah, I can definitely see how that happens because every time I would take off - like I’ve been rental ice skating a lot - me talking about my experience as if I’m a high class figure skater - 

Nina: Hey, I can do a walley jump and I can hold a spiral for three seconds. 

Maryam: There you go!

Karly: Longer than some people can. (Laughter ensues)

Maryam: That shade!

Karly: Well, every single time I take the boots off I feel it in my ankles, so I can definitely see how ankle strength exercises can help with that.

Nina: It’s actually kind of similar to - I used to rollerblade and you use your shin to support yourself a lot, but it would feel like your ankle is very stiff and very tired afterwards because it wasn’t actually doing a lot of the work. Also, the ligaments your ankles and knees are only able to withstand about 8 times your weight in gravity, and that is only IF that force is vertical, not horizontal. So when a skater falls sideways really badly (like Yuzuru Hanyu at NHK 2017, or Alexei Krasnozhon), the lateral force can make the ligament much more likely to stretch and tear.

Maryam: That’s because they’re only supposed to withstand vertical and not that much lateral force.

Nina: Yep. 

Karly: Yeah, so we also have overuse injuries, which many people may be familiar with. Overuse injuries. Skaters train very hard, and this puts a lot of repetitive strain on the body. The most common stress fracture coming from overuse injuries is a metatarsal stress fracture, which you may have heard for skaters such as Adam Rippon, Yuna Kim, and just this season Evgenia Medvedeva.

Nina: So, metatarsals are the bones in your feet, and you have five of them. Stress fractures are microtears in bones resulting from excessive force and repetitive trauma, usually overuse, which is a form of repetitive trauma. According to a study published in 2008, the main risk for stress fractures is the repetitive landing of jumps with more than one rotation, which is most high-level competitive skaters. Another risk factor is competing as an adolescent. Adolescents still have a lot of soft tissue where bones will grow when they get older, and soft tissue is more prone to injury. So yeah, the metatarsals in your feet - you’ve got two on each side are the ones more prone to injury because skaters often spend more time on just one edge or the other, not so  much a flat blade for both skating and jumps. Female pairs skaters also have a relatively high risk for metatarsal stress fractures - this is because they are thrown they get really highand come down with a lot more force on one of the edges. 

Maryam: So an example of a metatarsal fracture, Evgenia fractured her fourth metatarsal just this past year, and ended up and eventually was forced to take time off. The reason for that I think is because her training sessions are so rigorous, so Eteri’s rink is known for having multiple jump sessions in a day. 

Nina: Evgenia Medvedeva is known for training sessions of repeated jumping for consistency. 

Maryam: It’s a lot more jumping than they’ve had to do in the past, so skaters this year, sometimes their coaches might feel it’s better to have them do training sessions when they’re able to but their ankles can only withstand so much, especially if you’re training 7 hours a day on the ice, which is what Medvedeva does. 

Karly: Nathan Chen has been quoted saying that when she missed a jump in practice, she would re-do it, even 10 times in a row, until she got it right. It’s quite likely that this sort of heavy training can build up until it creates a stress fracture. So, moving on from stress fractures and overuse injuries, one training injury I was surprised I’d barely heard about regarding figure skating considering all the falls that happen was concussions. We always think about skating injuries as broken ankles or knees, you know, things in your feet, but concussions are actually fairly common.

Nina: Ashley Wagner has actually spoken on the record about them, relatively recently. She said that when she was a teenager, she’d fall a lot, and because of the brain damage she’d have a lot of trouble focusing on her performances and she said she felt very lost while she was skating, and she also said that her academic performance suffered, she couldn’t do math the same way she used to. 

Maryam: Yeah, so it definitely has impact on some areas of the brain like math, remembering choreo, that kind of stuff. So another notable case is Joshua Farris, he’s pretty famous for having had some pretty severe concussion incidents. He fell on a quad toe in practice and snapped his head back really hard, like whiplash. Then he fell again, probably due to continued invisible symptoms from the first concussion. And then he hit his head while entering a car (which, not skating, but pretty horrible luck, and definitely worse since it came right after two skating concussions). All within three weeks. He ended up having to retire, because he had migraine headaches, his dyslexia got worse, and rink environments became really over-stimulating because in a concussion, you’re sensitive to light, you’re sensitive to sound, that kind of stuff and his was really bad.  

Karly: Yeah, and rinks are always so lighted, so I imagine how that could be bad, and it’s just a really well-known case, unfortunately. Even spins can contribute to concussions. Like Lucinda Ruh, who was famous for spins, especially the layback spin. According to a sports medicine expert, the layback spin is like a centrifuge that you see in a lab, pushing blood into the head really hard. But then when the skater stops spinning, the blood comes rushing back out of the head really quickly. Lucinda said that for years, she felt like she was “going to die” during and after her skates, and doctors eventually realized she may have been having micro-concussions from her spins for much of her career.

Nina: Jesus.

Maryam: Yeah, layback spins feel like - kind of like doing a handstand, you know how your head feels heavy, and when you get back from the handstand all the blood rushes back to your head so you get dizzy. 

Nina: Yeah I was just about to say, I imagine she must have felt very lightheaded. 

Maryam: Yeah, and over time, it’s just a lot. 

Nina: Yeah, and I mean - ice is just dangerous, but is ice all the same? I mean, it’s just frozen water, right?

Karly: Wrong! It is not that all ice is the same and you can kind of tell this with how the zamboni will come out and resurface the ice - so there are different types of ice and they feel different to skate on, and a really good example of this is Boston Worlds 2016. That was bad ice. 

Maryam: Oh yeah. There were visible puddles. So hard ice is colder and more dense. Soft ice isn’t as dense and is usually harder for blades to grip. A skater may be forced to change their technique slightly when skating on a different ice surface, potentially resulting in injuries. Competitions should ideally be held in uniformly sized rinks (Olympic standard size ice rinks) since skaters have specific timing for jumps but this is not always possible - sometimes they are held in less wide rinks - and while skaters are used to adjusting their programs anyway around the rink, but it’s an extra step that could deter their concentration. More importantly, though, the temperature changed drastically between the SP and the FP at Boston (this could have been because there was a lot of people that showed up for it and their body heat could have affected the ice quality). It got hotter by 10 degrees celsius, so the ice became a lot softer, to the point where puddles were very visible. Skaters had a hard time doing turns because they have to push harder into the turn to make the turn, because your blade sinks into the ice if it’s soft and this can affect skaters’ performances drastically. It’s like if a running track got all melty rubbery.

Nina: Or it’s like running on sand, because runners have a hard time running on sand because they have to push harder, cause the sand sinks underneath them.

Maryam: Exactly. Figure skating is super repetitive, it’s basically all muscle memory, so your muscles get used to how much you push, and if you have to change it in a short time it’s not really ideal for giving your best performance.

Nina: Another incident I heard about that had really bad ice was 2017 Skate America, the killer of shoulders - Daniel Samohin fell on both his quad toe and salchow and popped his shoulder out of his socket and had to withdraw.

Karly: And then three skaters later, Adam Rippon also dislocated his shoulder during the free skate when he fell on a quad lutz. He tried to stop the fall with his right arm and landed on his left foot, dislocating his right shoulder. But he did pop his shoulder back in to finish his program. Like the  boss that he is.

Nina: So what was up with the ice at SKAM, anyway? Did someone cast dislocatus shoulderus on it?

Maryam: It was also too warm, probably? This rink - which is the official USFSA Olympic training centre - has been there since 1980 for the Lake Placid olympics. It’s used often for skating and hockey tournaments repeatedly, you’d think that it would need an upgrade, but no, it keeps on being used heavily and hasn’t been renovated in years—including the cooling system. Also? There were BUGS? Adam had to clear some off the ice himself - he got super sassy with the judges - and he had to clear them off just before his free skate, and it leads to the question - if the temperature is such that a bug can survive is it really adequate for proper ice conditions?

Nina: I’d say no.

Karly: You never think you’d hear the phrase “bugs on a figure skating rink”.

Nina: So we talked a little about the types of injuries figure skaters can get and how they can happen, and of course skating injuries are pretty much inevitable, but every skater has different techniques they use for prevention, however some of them are pretty common. Here are some of the prevention techniques that we’ve seen multiple skaters use. For example, skaters often have to learn how to fall correctly. If you fall correctly, Falling correctly can help prevent/lessen the extent of potential injuries. Beginners in the sport are taught to keep their arms close to their bodies and sit into their falls rather than smack right onto the ice. A skater has to learn to accept that they’re falling, and know how to catch themselves properly when falling instead of trying to fight it as it happens. Not doing so can lead to dangerous falls and injuries.

Maryam: Yeah, the first thing they teach you when you learn to skate is how to fall, and it’s important really to protect your knees - like you said, you have to accept that you’re falling and roll after the jump, pretty much. So, Anna Pogorilaya, who has back problems, for example, seems to have issues falling properly; often when her jumps go wrong she is too tilted or too far forward, so her axis is not straight, this combined with landing on a stiff knee causes her to slip out from her edge on the landing. Most skaters will try and put a hand down to save themselves but Pogo lets herself collapse after the fall, resulting in a very severe fall- usually on her stomach or back. Her most recent back injury was actually an old training injury that came back after her really bad fall last year and she even had to take the season off last year, which made me sad, but.

Nina: I’m glad she’s back and I hope she’s healthy. 

Maryam: I heard she’s training her triple jumps again, so, excited to see her!

Karly: That’s great. So another thing that can help with preventing injury is proper equipment. We talked about boot problems earlier but proper blade sharpening (so as to not jump on dull edges. Also don’t want to jump on freshly sharp blades -  Nathan got new blades put on for his free skate in Skate America (because he got a nick on his old ones in the SP), and it threw him off on all his jumps because doing the entries and other thingsis harder with freshly sharpened blades). 

Maryam: Yeah, like if you ask most skaters would you prefer to skate on freshly sharpened blades or dull blades, most would answer dull blades - just cuz sharp ones you have to make them less sharp by skating a lot on them.  And the majority of them time you’re skating, you’re skating on kind of half [half sharp half dull] blades, but it’s way easier to do your jump entries and stuff on dull edges cuz it makes turns easier and stuff. 

Nina: I imagine that sharp edges - like freshly sharpened blade edges - they’re almost so sharp that it almost becomes difficult to control on the ice

Maryam: Oh yeah.  Definitely.  And if you put your weight wrong on an edge - even a little bit - it can throw you off. So.  We talked about earlier with preventing lace bite, but boot design and fit are essential. Elite level skaters would get custom boots that fit perfectly and that are the right amount of stiffness (heat molding if it doesn’t fit properly, making sure to replace boots after they’ve broken down) 

Nina: What’s heat molding?

Maryam: So heat molding is kind of, they take the boot, they put them over your ankles and they tie them and they make sure that “Ok that’s how it should fit,” and they put it in the oven and heat it so that it fits exactly - there’s no space left - because even like half a centimetre of space can really throw you off in skating, it can cause ankle injuries, so yeah.  
So for example, my boots are stiffness level 30 (I’m still doing single jumps), Nathan Chen’s boots are stiffness level 95 (he’s doing quads and banging them out all the time).  Technically, the stiffness level 95 should last Nathan very long, but they didn’t at last worlds, where they barely lasted 3 and a half weeks before they broke down (how do you know if a skate is broken down? When it’s super soft and bendy especially around your ankle area and your ankle doesn’t feel locked in when you’re doing jumps and stuff).  So he only had a brand new pair with him at Worlds’, so what he chose to do - he didn’t wanna skate in a brand new pair - he put a ton of duct tape over his broken skates and just skated like that (to mimic stiffness in a way and limit bendy-ness with the duct tape).  So even though the skates were able to withstand the quads, psychologically, it’s kind of hard to put full trust in your boots if your ankle doesn’t feel fully secured when they’re broken down.  So why didn’t Nathan skate on his brand new boots? Like he had them with him, right?

Nina: I mean, I saw Worlds’ last spring and I mean one thing I’ve learned from that is apparently you’re never supposed to skate on new boots. 

Karly: Well I mean if you had watched the movie ‘Ice Princess’ - which we had discussed in our last episode you would know that you can’t skate on new boots - Casey Carlyle can tell you that.

Nina: I feel like that came up in ‘I, Tonya’ also, something about brand new boots

Maryam: So if you skate in like brand new boots, you’re not able to bend your ankle as much - so if you try and do jumps with that level of stiffness it can throw you off, it can hurt you.  And more likely, your ankle isn’t used to that freshly new stiffness, so you will get cramps, you will get bleeding, especially like with Shoma - we saw pictures of his skates where there were blood marks.  And that’s just typical if you’re skating on brand new stiff boots especially at competition.  So Nathan and Shoma learned their lesson.  Nathan even now has a bunch of boots that he interchanges at practice, so when it’s competition time he has multiple broken in skates in the case one of them breaks down completely.   So like at the last Olympics, he had three broken-in skates so that he wouldn’t have to skate with a completely broken broken down skate or a completely new super stiff skate.  

Nina: That’s pretty smart

Karly: Yeah I think that’s a pretty good idea 

Nina: It’s what I expect from someone going to Yale!!

Maryam: Oh yeah

Nina: Skaters also do a lot of off-ice conditioning to make sure that, you know, just their bodies are generally strong.   Especially because in figure skating there a lot of muscles that you use that the average person (like me) is never gonna have to use in their lives.  Skaters also do a lot of image training - for example pairs and dance partners will practice their lifts off the ice before they even attempt it on the ice so that they’re comfortable with it, and singles skaters will generally - you see them sometimes in videos of competitions -  you see them practice rotating their jumps off the ice so they can get the rotation before attempting it on ice. 

Karly: Yeah, so it’s important to note that this is easier for some jumps than others.  You know, it’s easier to rotate a 2A off ice than on ice compared to salchows & loops - because you need speed and a good solid edge which is kind of hard to get on running shoes. Harnesses are available for a skater to get used to rotating on and off the ice. And also - when doing off-ice jumps, skaters are instructed to only jump on rubber surfaces because concrete puts too much stress on joints. 
Nina: Oh is that why like the off-ice are around the rink is made of rubber?

Maryam: Yep! It always has to be made of rubber.  Because it decreases the impact of off-ice jumps.  I mean like you still see skaters doing jumps on concrete to like show off but I mean, like, it’s a show-off sport, so like it’s whatever.  As long as you’re not doing it every single day.  
Image training also has a psychological dimension - Yuzuru did a lot of image training, watching his old successful programs and running through his steps to remind himself of what his routine should feel like when he was in rehab leading up to the Olympics.  So when he wasn’t, when he wasn’t able to be on the ice he’d just watch himself and kinda do the run-through in his living room - that kinda stuff - just to get his head in the mindset of “this is what my program should feel like.”

Nina: Something else you might’ve seen is KT tape. Evgenia Medvedeva wore it at NHK Trophy, Mirai Nagasu wore KT tape with the USA print on her thigh at Pyeongchang.  People thought it might have been a tattoo.  It’s supposed to help support your muscles.  Studies aren’t quite sure if it has like an actual significant effect, but even if it does have a tiny effect, or even if it’s a placebo, that mental edge can help a skater get on the podium.  

Karly: Yeah, and so there’s also things like butt pads and knee pads that can protect skaters, like you know when trying new jumps it can help them to overcome the mental block of jumps.  But not many skate with butt or knee pads at competitions because they spent thousands of dollars on costumes and don’t wanna ruin their look.  See, a helmet could also prevent concussions, but 1) they don’t offer a lot of protection, and 2) they would possibly throw the skaters off balance and 3) there’s no way the judges would like it if someone wore a big helmet during competitions - because, again, ugly.  
This really raises the question of how much emphasis on beauty and performance there is in figure skating, which is not the case with most other sports.  And it contributes to increasing risk of injury by making it hard to incorporate protective gear into performance unfortunately.

Nina: It reminds me of cheerleading.

Karly: Yeah.  Cheerleading scares me.

Nina: So now we wanna talk a little bit about medic response times because sometimes when there’s really big, drastic incidents - you might’ve seen the medics run on to the ice 

Maryam: Yep, so...We’ll be using two incidents as real life examples of emergency medical response to see how this protocol is handled in a real-life situation: the collision and the medical response at Cup of China 2014 (Where Han Yan and Yuzuru Hanyu collided during the five minute warm up), 

Nina: and the pairs team Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin, when he dropped her on a one-handed overhead lift during their the 2004 Skate America free program, and she hit the ice face first and got a concussion.

Karly: so the question is: when do medics interfere vs just leave the skater as they are? Example, are they instructed to wait 5 seconds if a skater falls and if they don’t get up right away, head over to them?  Cuz I mean you see falls happen all the time in a program, and usually they get right back up

Maryam: So I know some people have criticized other skaters for not interfering when others are down BUT if a collision or an emergency occurs on the ice, skaters are instructed not to interfere with the person that’s down because 1) If it’s a suspected head or spinal injury, the other fellow skaters might be doing more harm than good, for example telling a skater to get up when if it’s a head or spinal injury they should not move at all - they shouldn’t even nod - and 2) skaters are used to their peers falling and laying down for a while, and if they’re in competition mode, it’s kind of hard to notice things going on around you. 

Karly: Yeah so, at Cup of China 2014, It took 30 seconds for the announcers to tell skaters to leave the ice.  It’s because of the relay system - so the medic  tells the timekeeper who tells the referee who tells the announce that skaters have to leave the ice. So the medics have to wait for that confirmation from the referee in order to go onto the ice. This process took 50 seconds in total for the EMS to arrive at Yuzuru’s side at Cup of China 2014. With Totmianina and Marinin, it took about 30 seconds for EMS to get to her.

Maryam: Yeah so this delay in timing can potentially be interpreted as inattentiveness from the Medical Personnel, (the Eurosport uncles said “there was no medical team”) but in reality, the Personnel, they were just following protocol set by the ISU.

Nina: I mean still though, if we want these responses to be as instantaneous as possible, wouldn’t it be better to leave discretion up to the Medical Personnel instead of having to wait for the referee’s approval?  Maybe the medics should have a radio to the medic and they could radio to the announcer - that would make it faster to get the announcement out and get the skaters out of the ice and the medics onto the ice as soon as possible.  

Karly: Yeah I think that would be good too.

Maryam: Yeah, that’s a very good solution.  But we also saw that EMS run onto the ice in boots.

Nina: Yeah, I noticed they don’t wear skates —  I mean should they wear skates or should skates be available? I mean, I figure it would be kind of difficult for medics to maneuver with skates, especially if they’re not skating trained but maybe they would’ve been able to get to Totmianina faster and assess her injury quicker or maybe there could be like a set of EMS that has skates then people that have the big bags of stuff come out afterwards?

Maryam: So they have to have two teams at rinkside at every single ISU competition, so this probably wouldn’t work because the rink isn’t that big, so it wouldn’t take that long for the second team to reach them anyway.  And the first team won’t have time to do that much and it will be hard to carry their stuff, especially if you’re on skates. Skates would probably be too dangerous, especially if you ever have to lift somebody on a spinal board.  Protocol in most paramedic services is to instead wear cleats on top of your boots and also helmets so as to not trip slip and while walking on the ice, especially if you’re lifting somebody. But in most videos of medics at ISU events they’re not wearing cleats and are trying not to trip on the ice while walking there. EMS they also have to carry equipment like a spinal board, cervical hard collar and resuscitation equipment, so for example a very heavy oxygen tank, as a minimum requirement, which makes it really difficult, slower and even dangerous for the medics themselves to be moving on ice without cleats. So, ISU, we’re kind of shocked that the ISU doesn’t provide them already, so ISU please get on that.  

Nina: Yeah that way they can kind of grip the ice and run over - instead of - you see them kind of shuffling along the ice to get to someone 

Maryam: And you see them kind of like wobbling - and that shouldn’t happen, especially if you have to lift somebody and you only have 4 people to do so

Nina: And, I mean, speaking of lifting people, they don’t even - right now they have to call in for support for a rinkside stretcher but that can be - that can actually take kind of a while because they have to get the stretcher and it might not be super easily available.

Maryam: Yep, so regardless of the severity of the incident, a potentially concussed individual should move as little as possible until the doctors can clear them if they’ve injured their spine or not. So who takes care of medical training/certification? USFSA coaches are encouraged to complete an annual concussion recognition program but what about the others? Are there ISU guidelines regarding this?  In the Cup of China case, there was no official medical doctor on standby to assess either of the athletes. There’s supposed to be one doctor at rinkside out of the four medics that are on the rink.  The doctors that assisted them were from the USFSA and Skate Canada. The people who treated them were the American and Canadian doctors.

Nina: That’s ridiculous. 

Maryam: Yeah.

Karly: So we also see that the EMS didn’t stop Yuzuru from trying to stand up, and they actually allowed him to keep moving and skate off the ice before being examined by doctors. Shouldn’t they have stopped him from moving?

Maryam: Yep! So medics need to keep track of a lot of stuff that can indicate head or spinal injury, like dizziness  and they should find all of this stuff while the patient is still on the ground to determine whether they need to immobilize their head and spine before moving them.  So they should ask - did you black out at all, did you have pain in your head neck or back, did you see any stars, that kind of thing.  And they need to ask that while the patient is still down.  But Yuzuru what he did he kind of got up as they arrived to him and you see the medic kind of like frantically telling him something, but Yuzuru skated off right away.

Karly: So we ask the question, was this enough EMS care? Or does it point to issues regarding the culture of injury that surrounds figure skating?  We’ll talk a little bit more about the culture of injury

Nina: Yeah cuz to put it into perspective, the medics did what they could with the resources they had, and they had to follow the protocols that they have as their job requirement.  But we think that there are issues with the protocols themselves.  There should be some changes in the relay system.  So we think the priority should be to get the skaters off the ice and have a full assessment done off ice as soon as possible.  So we think that they should change the order of the relay system.  Maybe the medic gets first, and then goes to the announcer, and then timekeeper, and then the referee - instead of the medic having to wait for the referee or the announcer to give them the O.K.  We also think that medics should have new protocols to make the medics safer while they’re helping other skaters.  For example, in Totmianina’s case there were a lot of people helping lift her, but there have been other cases where you can see there’s not as many people, and if it was like a heavier skater, and the medics slipped, then they could drop the injured person, which would be really bad if they had a head or spinal injury.

Maryam: I remember at one soccer game this person broke their leg.  Their bone was kind of popping out and the medics put them on a stretcher.  It was two medics lifting him.  They dropped him.  So like it’s really important to ensure you have proper lifting protocols and you have proper equipment with you.  

Nina: So we spent a lot of time talking about how figure skaters get injured pretty frequently and how a lot of those injuries lead them to take time off, take a season, skip a couple comps, in order to do physical rehabilitation, but what exactly does rehabilitation include?

Maryam: There’s numerous treatment options and they can all be individualized from skater to skater.  The thing that’s important is the skater gets medical help right away after their injury, and follows through with that rehabilitation plan that the physiotherapist gives them. So not following through on recovery fully can lead to further injury. Example, Yuzuru Hanyu at Pyeongchang took painkillers and skated while still healing from his injury, so he needed extra time after the Olympics, so he needed 2 months before and 3 months after for intensive rehabilitation to heal his ankle.
Karly: One of our team member’s friends was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her lower back because she advanced too quickly and got her triples in no time and did not keep up with proper off ice conditioning.  The doctor told that her to minimize the risk of her spine falling out of place she had to stop jumping triples and double axels all together.  She’s not an international level figure skater so she said she’s “over it”, but you can imagine just how devastating it would be for someone that is international and needs those jumps to compete to be told something like that.

Maryam: So again that goes back to overuse and making sure you have proper off-ice conditioning that goes along with your on-ice jumping.

Nina: So sometimes skaters need surgery to go in and repair the torn ligaments or to set the broken bones but there are also plenty of non-surgical treatment options so for lesser injuries some common options that people do in rehab will try get excess tissue fluid moving out of the swollen area and back into body circulation. So there’s the pretty standard skaters often use RICE. Rest, you can’t use the injured limb, obviously. Ice, to reduce swelling, as well as compression, and then you have to elevate it. You put limb- the injured part of the body – above the heart level to help gravity pull fluid back into the body. This is standard injury care for even non-skaters, I sprained my foot- I twisted my ankle one time walking down a hill to final exams. I had to RISE my foot. I did take the exam though and I did do well.  
Maryam: Oh wow, legend. Sometimes, if a skater needs immediate pain relief, a physiotherapist may choose to inject their joints with steroids or anesthesia and what that does is reduce swelling so that pain is alleviated and stiffness in that joint is reduced.  Some skaters might also get painkiller injections if they would like to skate injured. This is what happened to Boyang Jin - he sprained both ankles before Skate America, and to skate on those- to skate on two sprained ankles he pretty much needed those injections. Also Shoma with boot issues at last Worlds, he had to take painkiller injections as well. These are legal and sanctioned, they’re just anesthesia, nothing to do with steroids.

Nina: One aspect of rehabilitation after injuries that isn’t frequently discussed is that of mental rehab. After a traumatic injury, skaters often have a little difficulty moving forward, without being stressed or anxious whenever they go into the situation again. So some skaters speak to psychologists to help them recover and move past the lingering trauma. For example, Kaetlyn Osmond broke her right fibula, one of her shin bones, and she said that she didn’t start seeing a sports psychologist until after a year because she didn’t think she needed it. But a year later she realized that she was still having trouble and that the issue was pretty much in her head at that point. Also it’s not always the injured skater who needs help. For example, after Maxim Marinin dropped Totmianina, she said she recovered from her injury easily, but he needed a lot of psychological support because he felt really guilty for having dropped her.

Karly: Similarly, at the 2007 Four Continents Championships accident during the free skate of pairs team Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison, during their side-by-side camel spins, his blade clipped her face, cutting her nose and left cheek and opening up a four-inch cut that needed 83 stitches. Which is, you know, pretty much a nightmare, as is dropping your partner. Both skaters had to get post-traumatic stress counselling after the incident. Davison said he felt guilty for not protecting her and had a lot of trouble focusing whenever he saw her scar.

Nina: And even on a wider scale, Maxim Kovtun he had a lot of struggle skating in the immediate aftermath of the Cup of China collision because he said he was so distracted, he also said it was one big nightmare- and he wasn’t even directly involved in the incident -just seeing it happen was that traumatic.

Maryam: However, not all coaches seem to recognize the importance of mental health for their skaters. In an episode of Ice Talk in late 2016, Brian Orser said "[the language barrier] is a bit challenging sometimes when it comes to the psychology part of it, because Tracy and I really feel like we have a good handle on that, so at the time being we don't bring any psychologists in or anybody because we've had some great education in that and some experience, and, so, when it comes to that we take our time to make sure everybody understands each other"
Nina: Yeah but you need to have professionals do it, just having seen a therapist doesn’t mean that you are a therapist.
Maryam: Doesn’t make you qualified, yeah. 

Karly: So it’s weird because Brian Orser has spoken about using a sports psychologist back in the 80s, as well as in recent interviews. But it was a lot less common back then, so maybe he carries over old attitudes towards mental health in general.
Nina: Yeah back then he said in interviews that he talked to a sports psychologist, and he also said that he thinks it’s important, but he also said that back in the 80s it was very uncommon for him to see a sport psychologist so they’re might be some lingering attitudes with old coaches or judges or something where they don’t see it as something that’s worth doing. But it’s still irresponsible even if they’re trying to do their best with their own skaters. For example, Yuzuru Hanyu said he read a lot of psychology articles about the mental effects of injuries and how to minimize them, while recovering before the Olympics. But, I don’t think he ever discussed that he spoke with a psychologist himself. So either he didn’t, which makes the recovery process more difficult or if he did it’s not something skaters can talk about which is still not a great attitude for the sport.
Maryam: Maybe if he could just use Brian’s $20 hypnotherapy app? 

Karly: Peak Performance. You know, the magical dulcet tones of rainforests that they play from a dorky looking headband like in that one horror episode of Black Mirror. So these are actually two different products, Peak Performance is the hypnotherapist, the headband thing is…. Not a Brian Orser business venture I hope and pray.
Nina: Apparently Peak Performance was discontinued in 2016, so I hope that they have worked with more psychologists in the past two years.
Maryam: I sure hope so, yeah. Our next segment is a culture of injury, aka I’d fight the ISU but they probably wouldn’t heal properly. So this made me wonder, how common it is for skaters to underplay their injuries going into competitions. Or to just… skate through them. One of the key factors is how the ISU structures its qualification and competitions, which places incredible pressure on athletes to compete while injured. Qualification system for GPF - missing one Grand Prix takes you completely out of the running for GPF, because you only have two assignments. In Cup of China 2014, Yuzuru skated despite a horrific list of injuries to his chin, abdomen, and left thigh, and sprained right ankle where he could barely breathe or stand, just to get to the GPF that year.

Nina: God I just- I hadn’t watched that video because I didn’t want to and then the first time I watched it I was just like “Oh my God”, especially now that I know more about concussion risks. When I rewatched it it’s like- even putting aside all the falls on his jumps, the spins! The spins are really fast and the G forces…I mean basically the entire time I was like “Yuzuru, think of your meninges! Do it for your meninges! Your meninges are in trouble!” Because he could have inflamed them more and even though he didn’t have a concussion he could’ve gotten it worse, he could’ve given himself one or he could’ve gotten second impact syndrome, where if you have a first head injury and it hasn’t recovered properly you can then get a second injury within a really short timeframe and that can even be fatal because the brain doesn’t have time to recover properly. It seemed really irresponsible that the judges let him skate, I mean I know he wanted to but it’s because there’s no protocol in the ISU for skaters that have to withdraw from Grand Prix events because of injury, and how it affects their placing, their qualifications, their points. If there had been such a system in place, maybe he wouldn’t have competed, maybe he would have, but the ISU needs to figure out how to keep skaters from gambling with their health just to get to the Final.  

Maryam: At that time they had a protocol “Oh if you’re cleared for a concussion you’re good to skate,” but maybe they should have other guidelines like if you have this, this, and this, you’re not allowed to skate. It’s worth looking into.
Nina: And it’s not just the GP series.
Maryam: Oh yeah, there’s also pressure to compete at Nationals for Olympic qualification and Olympic spots and well-known injuries can hurt your selection chances

Karly: Ashley Wagner talked about this pressure. She said “going into that Olympic cycle, the last thing you want to have public is a flaw — and a flaw that is not going to go away.” A well-known injury could worsen your chances of being on the Worlds or Olympic team. God, skaters don’t want that.
Nina: Yeah for example, Daisuke Takahashi had to skate injured at Japanese Nationals 2013 to qualify for the Sochi Olympic team because the Japan men’s field was so deep, if he didn’t compete at Nationals he risked losing his place.

Maryam: Yeah and Olympics only comes four years so it’s a big deal to the skaters. For Worlds and Olympics, there is a system where the placements of the skaters at Worlds determines how many spots they get for Worlds, or the Olympics, the following year- if it happens to be the Olympics the next year. To base something so important on the performance at a single competition will inevitably lead to skaters pressured to perform even while injured because they would lose placements not just for themselves but also for their teammates. We should investigate possibilities to award spots based on other criteria, like maybe world standings?
Nina: Yeah because world standings give a more comprehensive picture of how skaters are performing over the whole season so it doesn’t come down to just one competition. Like Shoma Uno at Worlds 2018, when he had the boot issues, and his foot really hurt and he had to get the painkiller injections- when he got his score he was tearful, he had a tear on his cheek, but the first thing he did was turn to his coach, Mihoko Higuchi, and asked if they got three spots. Especially because at the time he was the national champion and he was the highest ranked Japan man at the competition, so he probably felt a lot of extra responsibility to place high and hold onto the spots for the next year.

Karly: God if that wasn’t the most painful moment of my life.
Nina: I never want to see him do that again like Shoma that was…that was...
Maryam: It physically hurt. That kind of thing can really damage you psychologically and really make you lose your motivation and feel so much guilt to compete at next Worlds even if you’re injured.
Karly: So skaters from smaller federations may also feel pressure to compete while injured as there isn’t necessarily a substitute for them. Denis Ten is a key example, I feel like I should say rest in peace. 
Nina: He was very strong and this is just another example of how strong he is.
Karly: Yeah, he tore ligaments in his ankles in the off season before the Olympic season, and didn’t fully heal but still competed at the Olympics, both out of desire for Kazakhstan to have a representative and also personally because he had Korean heritage and it was important for him to compete.  His words after competing were, “It’s a pity we still don’t have a growing generation of men’s figure skaters, those who could give me the chance to take a break for at least a year to heal the injuries.”

Maryam: That broke my heart.

Karly: Yeah it’s horrible.

Nina: I’m getting chills just hearing that, he made himself skate on torn ligaments just because he wanted to give Kazakhstan a face to look up for because Kazakhstan doesn’t have other men. 

Maryam: And that’s changing but it takes a really long time to grow an Olympic level figure skater, so it’s going to take some time.
Nina: It’s definitely a pressure that they put on themselves or that their country puts on them.
Karly: We also see that there are many instances of programs performed with injuries and that the skater may end up having to take more time off the ice than intended.  But that is what the skater does - they weigh the risks. If you ask any elite level figure skater whether they’ve felt an intense amount of pain in a part of their body the past, I guarantee you the response rate would be 100% yes.  So no skater is a stranger to pain. They should be able to tell what’s a simple overuse injury and what is going to be more complicated, and consult with their coaches and medical team. However, there are things the ISU can do on a systematic level to minimize the skater having to make incredibly hard decisions or gamble with their long-term health.

Nina: And it’s not just all on the skater’s shoulders. There’s been a lot of discussion about whether the sport has a ‘culture of injury’ from both a coach and training standpoint. For example, after ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis fell and she hit her head during training, she didn’t actually receive any testing to see if she had a concussion, like coaches often do in other sports like American football. Instead, her coach just told her to go home and rest. But this goes against medical advice about head injuries which can worsen if not treated in time and only doctors are allowed to do the “return-to-play” assessment and clear whether the patient has or doesn’t have a concussion. It’s important for trainers and coaches to direct their students to further medical aid, otherwise they’re being negligent. I mean Gabriella actually did have a concussion and had to take time off to recover from it.

Maryam: And the sooner it’s recognized, the better the outcome, and the less risks associated with it. So it’s really important to have all coaches trained in concussion recognition.
Karly: So we also have another case of ‘culture of injury’ in Alina Zagitova. She has Osgood-Schlatter’s disease, an inflammation of the patellar ligament where it rubs against the tibia, another leg bone. This repeated friction makes extra bone grow, which creates a painful bone lump that exacerbates the rubbing. In a recent interview, Alina said that “Eteri Georgievna is telling me that I’ll have pains anyway, whether I treat it or not.” She then said that she just has to tolerate it, because the condition only gets better with rest, and she can’t do that. But especially for a young skater, not only does this sort of approach hurt her body, as the irritation never gets a chance to recede, but it also teaches her that injuries are just something to be ignored and worked through, rather than actually dealt with and avoided and that’s just horrible, it hurt me.

Nina: That’s how you end up with skaters who think that when they’re injured the correct approach is to keep going and then over time these skaters may become coaches who then tell their students, “you have an injury, you’re hurt, but that’s part of the sport, you just have to keep going.”

Maryam: Exactly. It’s a really negative and just a really hurtful environment to be in, especially if you don’t feel comfortable bringing up the pains you’re having. Especially if you expect somebody to say in return, oh it’s okay, it’s just a part of the sport. Just go through it. 

Nina: Another aspect of coaching that’s really been coming up a lot in basically the past several months, is whether or not young skaters should be jumping quad jumps and if so, how should they be training them. For examples, there are skaters like Alexandra Trusova - she’s attempting 3 quads and she’s just 13 years old. A lot of people have been discussing whether or not young skaters should be jumping these jumps that are really difficult and anatomically stressful. There are lots of young students who have been training jumping quads in difficult coaching camps, but Trusova has been coming up a lot because people know that Eteri’s camp trains their students very hard, such as Alina and not being allowed to rest her knee, and people are worried that this could exacerbate the risks of jumping quads 

Maryam: Yeah like I mean, Eteri’s known for doing really intense training. Skaters in the past, they used to only do two or three run-throughs of a program in a week. Now they do run-throughs dozens of times in a day with full jumps, and train for 5-6 hours on the ice instead of what used to be like 2 or 3, according to skater turned coach Daniil Gleichengauz, because the sport requires a lot more training now as it got harder.  You need your triple-triples, you need hard jumps to [be] competitive and to be able to have way more consistency than they used to have in the past.  The key issue, though, is the lack of research on the effects of jumps on developing bodies. The only big study we could find was from 2003, so predating the quad revolution. However, that study found that singles skaters had a lot more injuries than pairs or ice dance kids, who don’t do as many jumps, and boys had more acute injuries than girls, who have easier jumps, so to say.

Nina: And we’ve already seen that even just jumping triple jumps can lead to injury, like Tara Lipinski’s had to have hip surgery, and she was really well known for her triple triple combinations.  And there was an article written by sports physicians in 2000 that noted that “Clinicians are observing an increasing frequency of hip, lower back, and core musculature injuries among skaters. And then it directly said, the female figure skaters who are developing these injuries are typically those performing triple salchows, double and triple axels, and triple loops.”  So what I’m getting from this is - edge jumps should be gone.  

Karly: You’re not allowed to jump.  Figure skating can no longer have jumping.

Maryam: Stop jumping for our sake.

Karly: So can we extrapolate from there to quads? It’s a little bit tricky. But we have seen that the top skaters now who regularly jump quads seem to have a lot of injuries, and the shift from doubles to triples was already pretty significant.

Nina: An example of precautions that coaches in general - of course no coach wants their skaters to be injured, I mean that’s just - it’s sad, it’s bad for the skater’s career, it’s bad for the skater as a human body.  So one example of precautions that some coaches are using when, you know, they take kids shopping at “Quads-R-US” is how Brian Orser teaches Stephen Gogolev, another one of his students, he’s 13-year-old and apparently has all the quads.  Brian has said that he exercises extra caution with Gogolev and takes into account his growing body, and if Gogolev feels any pain, he tells him that he can’t jump any quads for a couple of weeks until the pain goes away.   And I’d really hope that this is a universal approach?

Maryam: Yeah, so like hopefully other teams, including Eteri’s, do this as well. Based on comments from Daniil, it seems they do limit the number of tries in one practice and use safety measures like padding and the harness before they even try the quads without those things. He says “You need to make sure that the athlete is still "fresh", they’re not tired, then the risk of injury is lower.” But we have no idea how they’re judging if a skater is ‘ready’, so we have no idea what their guidelines are to determine that given the lack of scientific research, especially since the girls have only recently started quads at the age of 11, 12, 13.

Karly: Yeah, I was gonna say, before Trusova we really only had one quad from a woman, from Miki Ando.

Nina: I mean, there are other girls who are training quads, like Gabby Daleman has a quad toe I believe, in practice?  But again, it’s so early in the advent of women doing quad jumps that we don’t have the research needed to figure out how it affects them, we don’t have the research to figure out how it affects women’s different pelvic structure, or really their bodies.  And I’m sure we’ll see some research coming about this in the next couple of years.

Karly: Yeah, so with the development of quads, you know, we wanna know, should we be thinking about the equipment as well? And about how much of figure skating’s emphasizes on aesthetics and traditions, which we’ve addressed at various points, could be hindering both progress and the health of skaters of the sport?

Maryam: So, a little bit on skating boots - Skating boots in general are biomechanically suboptimal - so they lack of ability to flex ankle forces you land (almost) flat-footed, which has been shown to cause higher incidence of overuse injuries. 

Nina: May I interject? When you say flat-footed, I assume you mean not on flat edges, but like the arch of their foot is pushed down?
Maryam: Yeah.

Nina: Okay.  I was actually unclear about that. 

Maryam: There’s evidence to show that correcting the lower extremity biomechanics can prevent overuse injuries, especially as skaters frequently have anomalies of their feet. In the 2003 study, only a quarter of junior skaters wore orthotic inserts that make the boot fit better, even though about 40% reported foot anomalies.

Karly: How has boot technology changed since this was published?

Nina: Yeah this was 15 years ago.  So in the past decade and a half, for example in 2007, researchers at the University of Delaware developed a skating boot that hinges at the ankle, so there’s a greater range of flexion. But the boot hasn’t really caught on - so you don’t really see skaters in these flex boots, you usually see them in traditional Jackson Fly or Edeas or something like that.  And one researcher actually blamed the sport’s adherence to tradition, and he said “The biggest concern is the way it looks. The new judging system is supposed to be less focused on aesthetics, but in figure skating it is the way it is. If a judge doesn’t like the music or the costume, then you won’t get as high a score.”  Also wow @ 2007 being the “new” judging system

Karly: I know.  Former Japanese skater Takahiko Kozuka recently developed ‘quad-proof’ steel blades, which removed the problem of common blades which are made of three parts welded together. Kozuka said welded joints can sometimes break from the force of impact on the ice.  And so I was really interested when this happened, it’s promising to see innovation happening on the equipment end and we hope to see more.  And it’s actually very nice that it came from a skater himself.

Nina: Yeah, I mean, I’m sure that, as a former skater, Kozuka knows what is wrong with boots, he knows what parts of the blade are least comfortable for skaters and how to fix them.

Maryam: Exactly.

But it’s not just with boots where judges are harsh on appearances - it’s not just costumes, it’s not just protective gears we’ve mentioned. Body types alone are a huge issue in figure skating. We’re not going to cover this in extensive detail right now, in fact we’ll potentially have a minisode on this topic in the future, but for listeners, for the next couple of minutes, consider this a blanket trigger warning for discussion of eating disorders a pretty serious topic in the sport but again we don’t think this is nearly enough time to cover the topic in detail.
The thing is - eating disorders actually fuel injuries even worse. Adam Rippon has said that his eating disorder - which he’d talked quite openly about - contributed to his fractured foot. When skaters don’t get the right nutrients, especially skaters at really high levels who are putting a ton of stress on their bodies using their muscles really intensely it just breaks down the infrastructure of their body, their bones are weaker, their muscles are weaker, they can’t support themselves as well as, of course, their internal organs and their internal body systems are breaking down, and their health being greatly at risk.  

Maryam: Yeah, so, a well documented case was Akiko Suzuki, so her coach told her to lose weight for her jumps. In just two months after he told her that, she lost nearly a third of her body weight (so she went from 48 kg to 32 kg).  Losing 16 kg in 2 months can put your career - and her life - in danger pretty much.  She ended up developing a severe case of anorexia nervosa and had a really hard time getting her jumps back after she recovered and got treatment for that.   What she said was, “There were all these younger skaters coming along with good proportions, and I started wishing for longer legs. I got a real complex.”

Nina: So it’s just tragic that there’s this pressure on skaters to be really thin to have their jumps and it’s definitely another aspect to think about in terms of how the culture around figure skating is - it promotes injuries in many ways.
Karly: Yeah.  I think to answer the question of, “Is there a culture of injury?” we can definitely say yes, unfortunately.

Nina: Yeah, I mean,  

Karly: As much as it hurts me to say so.

Nina: I mean I love the sport, but it’s not good for the skaters.  Like there’s equipment problems, there’s coaching practice, and there’s skater - there’s internal midsets that out a lot of pressure on skaters to train hard, compete while injured 

Maryam: Yeah, so many people glorify people skating injured, but that’s really detrimental to the health of the skater - especially if they believe they’re expected to skate injured, or they’re kind of less than what they could be if they decide to take time and heal their injuries.  So something should be done about that.  We shouldn’t glorify injuries, we shouldn’t glorify skating injured.  We should foster an environment where skaters feel comfortable taking time off to heal injuries and stuff.

Nina: Honestly, part of me wants to say, everyone just. Stop skating.  

Karly: No one figure skate anymore.

Nina: Yeah everyone stop skating, or everyone stop jumping.  No more lifts, no more jumps.  I’ll just watch you do crossovers around the rink.  

-end segment-

START: Shout Out of the Week

Karly: You know after our wrap up, we have our shout out of the week, and our shout-out of the week goes to not a lot of hair, it goes to the Toronto Cricket Club who must have had a 3-for-1 haircut deal, because we have the loss of Jason Brown’s ponytail, I’ll miss you

Maryam: He looks so cute

Karly: He looks so happy and sunny.  It’s a big change though, not used to it.  It’s like he got the post-Hamilton haircut  

Karly: He looks so good and he looks happy.  And then Gabby Dalemen - she’s got her new blond-ish hair.  It looks killer

Nina: Dang

Maryam: She looks gorgeous.

Nina: She looks straight fire it’s so dramatic

Karly: We have Evgenia’s bangs, making a return (I believe, she said in her instagram post).  

Nina: She’s so cute, and now I’m picturing little Evgenia Medvedeva with little bangs - she looks so cute

Karly: They all look so good.  And now I’m a little worried for like the rest of TCC’s hair

Nina: I was about to say, I haven’t seen him, I really hope that Cha Jun Hwan didn’t get a haircut cuz if Jun has a haircut I’m gonna miss the floppy boi.  Not to mention some other skaters that we haven’t seen who better not have shaved their head.
-end segment-

START: Outro

Nina: Thank you all for listening today, I hope you all learned some things, and there’s some new topics to discuss, and we hope to see you again for our next episode, which will be about the first two Junior Grand Prix events of the season:  Junior Grand Prix Bratislava and Linz.

As we mentioned at the start of the show - we now have our own dedicated website for the podcast! Go to inthelopodcast.com to see feature articles written by members of our team, weekly news roundups, we’ve got a full event calendar for the new season with links to information about competitions, as well as information about the team itself if you wanna get to know us. All that and more are coming at inthelopodcast.com.

Karly: If you want to get in touch with us, please feel free to contact us via our website, twitter @InTheLoPodcast or on Tumblr at inthelopodcast.tumblr.com.

Maryam: We’re on Youtube as well, just search for In The Loop Podcast and you’ll find our episodes there too.

If you enjoy the show, and want to help support the team, then please consider making a donation to us at ko-fi.com/inthelopodcast. That’s k o hyphen f i .com/inthelopodcast.

Karly: If you’re listening on iTunes, please consider leaving a rating and a review if you enjoyed the show. Thanks for listening, this has been Karly, 

Maryam: Maryam, 

Nina: and Nina

Karly: See you soon!