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American Figure Skater in Bizarre Controversy

Mariah Bell was accused of deliberately slashing rival
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2019 4:44 AM CDT
Mariah Bell, of the United States, celebrates after the women's short program at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
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(Newser) – American figure skater Mariah Bell has been cleared of wrongdoing after a bizarre incident during warm-ups for the world championship in Japan on Wednesday. The agency that represents 16-year-old South Korean skater Lim Eun-Soo accused the 22-year-old Bell of deliberately kicking her with her skate, cutting her calf, the Washington Post reports. Both skaters train under coach Rafael Arutyunyan in Los Angeles, and the All That Sports agency claims Bell was "bullying Lim for months" before the incident, reports the AFP. Korean officials reported the incident to the International Skating Union, the sport's governing body, which determined there was "no evidence" Bell intended to harm Lim.

The incident caused heated discussion online, with one critic accusing Bell of being "the next Tonya Harding," though fellow skaters said it was clearly an accident, ABC7 reports. Christine Brennan at USA Today notes that Bell, who was skating backward and couldn't see Lim, had the right of the way on the ice and the Korean should have moved out of the way. The collision happened as Bell was turning to go forward. Three-time US champion Ashley Wagner says it would be absurd for a skater to try to injure another during practice. "It’s really dangerous for any athlete to try to hit another athlete," she says. "You risk hurting yourself if you try that. This was absolutely an accident." Despite the cut, Lim scored a personal best in the women's short program, placing fifth, slightly ahead of Bell. (Read more figure skating stories.)

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