An American figure skater has been accused of slashing her South Korean rival on the leg before they competed in the world championships.
Mariah Bell, 22, allegedly kicked Lim Eun-soo, 16, during a warm-up before they were set to skate at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Japan on Wednesday.
Lim’s management agency claims that Bell cut the teen’s leg while the skaters were rehearsing before the women’s short program.
American figure skater Mariah Bell, 22, (right) has been accused of kicking Lim Eun-soo, 16, (left) during a warm-up before they were set to skate at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Japan on Wednesday
Lim’s management agency claims Bell kicked the teen skater, causing a cut to her leg (pictured), while the women were rehearsing before the women’s short program
They allege that Lim had been slowly skating on the edge of the rink after completing her turn when the incident happened.
‘Mariah Bell, who was scheduled to rehearse after Lim, suddenly kicked and stabbed Lim’s calf with her skate blades,’ the teen’s agent told Agence France-Presse.
‘Mariah Bell didn’t apologize to Lim Eun-soo after the incident and instead continued to rehearse for her routine.’
Lim, who was skating in her first senior world championships, suffered a gash on her calf. The wound was treated and bandaged.
Despite the incident, Lim skated a personal best of 72.91 points on Wednesday night.
She placed fifth in the women’s short program at Saitama, while Bell placed in sixth. Both women will compete in the free skate program on Friday.
They allege that Lim had been slowly skating on the edge of the rink when Bell suddenly kicked and stabbed Lim’s calf with her skate blades. Lim is pictured here after the incident
Lim’s agency claims Bell (pictured after the incident) apologize to Lim Eun-soo after the incident and instead continued to rehearse for her routine’
The International Skating Union revealed on Thursday that it had been made aware of the allegations against Bell from Lim’s agency and the Korea Skating Union.
ISU officials said the incident was verbally reported by the Korean Team Leader but that it did not receive a formal complaint.
‘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,’ the ISU said in an official statement.
‘The ISU met with delegates from both USA and Korea and urged both parties to find an amicable solution,’ it added. ‘The ISU maintains that this remains the appropriate approach.’
Bell and Lim both train under coach Rafael Arutyunyan in Los Angeles, and the Korean skater’s management claims that Bell has been ‘bullying Lim for months’ leading up to the world championships.
But Olympian US figure skater Adam Rippon quickly shot down allegations of bullying on Twitter.
The International Skating Union is now investigating the claims against Bell (pictured during the ladies’ short program at the World Figure Skating Championships on Wednesday)
Lim, who was skating in her first senior world championships (pictured), was patched up before scoring a personal-best 72.91 points
‘I’ve been to the rink multiple times and NO ONE has been bullying anyone, he tweeted on Wednesday.
‘Stop creating s**t and spreading rumors. What happened in the warm up was an accident. Don’t distract both Eunsoo and Mariah from the competition.’
‘Mariah and Eunsoo are competitive and train all the time together at home,’ he added. ‘Bullying is something Rafael would never tolerate.’
Skating fans in South Korea quickly took to social media to condemn Bell on Wednesday, with many noting the claim that she hadn’t apologized to Lim at the time.
‘The problem with Mariah Bell was that she was skating too close to the edge and her blade stabbed into Eunsoo’s leg,’ tweeted one fan. ‘Putting all bullying rumors aside, shouldn’t she have apologized?’
Some skating fans showed their support for Bell, while others asked that her detractors ‘calm down and analyze’ the situation.
‘Why would a veteran skater like Bell injure someone during a PUBLIC PRACTICE in front of hundreds of fans?’ asked one Twitter user. ‘None of the fans, who were taking notes, said ANYTHING about a collision.’
She placed fifth in the short skate at Saitama, just ahead of Bell at the championships
Bell and Lim both train under coach Rafael Arutyunyan in Los Angeles, and the Korean skater’s management claims that Bell has been ‘bullying Lim for months’
But Olympian US figure skater Adam Rippon shot down allegations of bullying on Twitter
Many also called for skating fans to stop cyberbullying Bell after her Instagram was flooded with comments comparing her to American figure skater Tonya Harding.
Harding rocked the figure skating world when her ex-husband and bodyguard were accused of planning an attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan before the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.
It was a sensational news story that dominated headlines for months and was later turned into the Academy-Award winning film I, Tonya.
Kerrigan went on to win silver at the Olympics while Harding finished in eighth place.
Harding was later banned for life from participating in US Figure Skating as either a skater or coach after a USFSA panel concluded that she had prior knowledge of the attack.
This week’s controversy has reminded many of the famous rivalry between US figure skaters Tonya Harding (left) and Nancy Kerrigan (right). Harding’s husband and bodyguard arranged an attack on Kerrigan before the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics