Lipnitskaia’s mother informs the media of her daughter’s retirement, also of her eating disorder.
One day after one ailing’s skater’s coach confirmed her out for the season, but refused to call her retired, the mother of another one says she is out for good. There were rumors and conflicting information throughout the summer, and now, with her still only being 19, we know Julia Lipnitskaya is retired.
The retirement isn’t all her mother revealed. We also learned that Lipnitskaya told the Russian federation she was done all the way back in April, but it seems the federation president still does not believe this. That was when, we also learned, she’d just spent three months being treated for anorexia. Her mother said little about how she’s doing now, though one hopes she’s doing better.
Even if nobody saw that coming for Lipnitskaya in particular, it’s sadly not too surprising. The presence of eating disorders in figure skating is still a subject talked about disgracefully little, but there aren’t too many people following the sport who don’t know it’s a serious problem. Lipnitskaia was no doubt subjected to awful pressures to stay small and thin. It’s been known, too, that she doesn’t handle stress well; it once even caused her to fail to attend a medal ceremony. Combined with the disaster of her final three seasons, and her falling victim is all too understandable.
Peaked Too Young
Julia Lipnitskaya has been a classic case of the “baby ballerina,” the wonderkid who could do stunning jumps and skating before she hit puberty, and then had to struggle ever after. She was attracting attention when she was as young as thirteen, coming in fourth at the 2011 Russian National Championships, and enchanting audiences with her light and graceful style. She would have a close to perfect 2012 season, winning the Junior National title, finishing second at Senior Nationals, and going undefeated internationally, culminating in the Junior World title:
She lost that title in 2013, coming in second. But the following season, she had turned fifteen just in time to compete at the 2014 Olympics. She would play a huge part in the team event and Russia’s win there, winning accolades from all over the world. Her team event free skate, where she portrayed the girl in the red dress from Schindler’s List, was *the* moment of Sochi’s figure skating competition, and earned praise from Spielberg himself:
But as early as right afterwards, she proved unable to cope with all the attention that got her. It got to her in the singles competition a week and a half later, where mistakes left her a disappointing fifth. She recovered in time to win silver at her only World Championships the following month, but it was all downhill from there. She made the Grand Prix Finale in the fall (the medal ceremony incident happened at one of her events), but she skated badly there, and at Russian Nationals, where she came in ninth, causing her season to end early. Things didn’t go much better the following year.
Last season she got so badly injured at the Rostelecom Cup she was barely able to finish the competition, and it would ultimately be her last. Another injury would take her out of Russian Nationals. No doubt the anorexia exacerbated the effects of both injuries. It wouldn’t have been long after that she went in for treatment.
In the hours since her mother broke the news to the world, Lipnitskaya’s gotten praise for her accomplishments from multiple people, including coaching legend Tatiana Tarasova, who called her a star too soon died out. At least one high Russian sports official wants her involved in the government!
He might be disappointed, though. Lipnitskaya must now do what’s best for herself, and that may well be retreating from the public eye completely. That may even be why her mother made the announcement instead of her, if she simply wasn’t up to it. This might be the last we ever hear from her. If so, we can only hope she finds what she needs to live a long, healthy, and happy life.