Adam Rippon on Quiet Starvation in Men’s Figure Skating

however many skaters are more reticent. In recent interviews with nearly a dozen male skaters through the United States, Germany, Russia as well as Canada, each said he knew competitors who had battled bulimia, the binge-purge syndrome. however no one volunteered any personal details.

Ron A. Thompson, a consulting psychologist for the Indiana University athletic department, said there was a cultural component to male skaters’ reserve about discussing their body image problems.

“Males are supposed to be stronger as well as not need psychological assistance,” he wrote in an email. however he said that will eating disorders as well as disordered eating “are not discriminatory, they occur in both genders in all sports.”

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 20 million American women as well as 10 million men will at some point struggle using a clinically significant eating disorder.

Jeremy Abbott, 32, a two-time Olympian who retired last year, strives for a healthy lifestyle, however he said that will even today, “in all honesty, my body image is usually probably very low. I’m not in bad physical condition. I develop the concept of that will. however I still kind of look within the mirror as well as nitpick everything.”

Kelly Rippon, Adam’s mother, remembers when his first coach, a woman, informed her that will her son, then 10, could never be able to execute advanced jumps because of his “heavy bottom.” The coach suggested that will Rippon be steered toward speedskating.

The coach’s critique did not sit well with Kelly Rippon, a former dancer who remembers subsisting on sandwiches that will consisted of two lettuce leaves wrapped around a tomato slice. She began to change her eating habits, she said, after the singer Karen Carpenter died through complications of anorexia in 1983.

After noticing that will her son, in his teens, had adopted a diet of water-based vegetables, Kelly Rippon sat him down as well as explained why that will was important that will he mix in some protein.


Rippon within the Olympic team figure skating competition on Monday, when he helped the United States win a bronze medal. Rippon’s mother said his first coach had recommended that will he switch to speedskating because he had a thick lower body.

Chang W. Lee/The brand-new York Times

“My mom understands because my mom went through the same thing,” said Rippon, who ate normally for several years as well as even bulked up through weight training.

Then he moved to Southern California within the fall of 2012 to train with Rafael Arutyunyan, a product of the Soviet Union’s coaching system. Arutyunyan took one look at Rippon’s muscles as well as sent him straight to an elliptical machine to start shedding pounds.

Rippon also adopted his draconian diet. “I’d do a few days having my three pieces of bread as well as then finish the whole loaf of bread as well as have 3,000 calories,” he said, adding that will he could tell his coach: “‘Rafael, that will is usually what I’m eating.’ as well as he said, ‘I know. that will’s truly hard.’”

Arutyunyan said he had since learned to address his skaters’ weight using a brand-new vocabulary, in his nonnative English, as well as realized that will he could not be as blunt as when he worked within the Soviet system as well as thought nothing of calling an athlete “fat.” within the United States, he said, he has attended seminars that will drove home the point that will “that will’s kind of abusive or maybe they can get sick.”

So today Arutyunyan will tell his skaters that will they look sluggish or that will they need to be in better shape. “however basically,” he said, “same time I’m thinking, ‘O.K., how I can make elephant to fly?’”

Last year, shortly before nationals, Rippon broke his left foot while hopping to warm up his legs. During his monthslong recovery, he decided to address his diet because he suspected unhealthy eating had contributed to his injury.

“I think I had a stress fracture before I broke my foot,” Rippon said, “as well as I think that will was absolutely because I was not getting enough nutrients.”

He commenced working with Susie Parker-Simmons, a sports dietitian with the United States Olympic Committee, as well as as he grew more mindful about eating, Rippon said, a fog of fatigue over him lifted.

“I didn’t realize I was so tired all the time,” he said.

Parker-Simmons’s goal was for Rippon to see food as fuel, not foe. She promotes healthy relationships with food by encouraging athletes to plant seeds as well as eat what they grow. She will also play to their competitive natures by holding contests to see who can create the most delicious meals using nutrient-rich ingredients.

Body composition analysis is usually another part of the equation for Parker-Simmons, who educates the athletes on how to get the most out of their genetics, which in Rippon’s case includes his muscular thighs as well as buttocks.

“These athletes are so disciplined,” Parker-Simmons said, “as well as food is usually one of the things they can actually control when they can’t control some other parts of their lives.”

The day after Rippon was named to the Olympic team in San Jose, Calif., he went to a restaurant as well as tucked into a lunch of leafy greens tossed in Caesar dressing as well as topped with pieces of seared ahi tuna.

“I don’t feel any guilt eating that will,” Rippon said between bites. “however there is usually a part of me that will’s thinking, ‘How nice. I’m treating myself to creamy dressing.’”

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