The Associated PressMOSCOW (AP) — She was Russia’s golden girl at the 2014 Winter Olympics, the 15-year-old skater with the “Schindler’s List” theme tune who won an Olympic title and a hug from President Vladimir Putin.
Now Yulia Lipnitskaya’s career is over, and she’s opening up about the cause — chronic anorexia.
Lipnitskaya said the eating disorder dogged her “not just for one year, or two, or three” and it eventually caused her to check into a clinic in Israel in January this year. She’s now retired, hasn’t skated in almost a year and says she doesn’t miss the ice.
“Anorexia is a 21st-century illness and it’s fairly common. Unfortunately, not everyone can cope with it,” Lipnitskaya said in an interview released Tuesday by the Russian Figure Skating Federation. Lipnitskaya, the youngest Olympic skating gold medalist since 1936, wishes she’d spoken out about her illness earlier.
“My only regret is that I didn’t do this before,” the 19-year-old Lipnitskaya said. Her honesty is comparatively rare in Russia, where eating disorders usually aren’t discussed publicly.
Lipnitskaya’s last competition, a Grand Prix event in November, was a far cry from her Olympic triumph. Unable to tackle the big jumps in her free program, she stopped the skate with tears in her eyes. The judges allowed her to resume after a break, but she finished 12th, in last place.
Officials said Lipnitskaya was injured. She entered residential treatment for anorexia in Israel two months later.
“After the Cup of Russia I came home and put my skates in a closet and I haven’t seen them since,” she said. “I’m no longer drawn to the ice.”
Lipnitskaya said that when she entered the clinic in January she assumed she would still continue her skating career. Two things happened to persuade her otherwise. First, sessions with psychologists helped her to realize she wanted to put her health first. Second, her stay in the clinic proved a little more isolated than she had planned.