'No evidence' American figure skater intentionally hurt South Korean opponent: ISU

PHOTO: Mariah Bell of the USA competes in the Ladies short program during day 1 of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2019 at Saitama Super Arena, March 20, 2019, in Saitama, Japan.Atsushi Tomura/ISU via Getty Images
Mariah Bell of the USA competes in the Ladies short program during day 1 of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2019 at Saitama Super Arena, March 20, 2019, in Saitama, Japan.

An American figure skater has been accused of deliberately injuring a South Korean skater during practice ahead of the International Skating Union World Figure Skating Championships in Japan, but the skating union has said there was "no evidence" it was intentional.

The accusations were made about an incident between American skater Mariah Bell and South Korean skater Eun Soo Lim during practice on March 20.

According to Yonhap, South Korean sports agency All That Sports alleged that Bell "struck Lim's leg with her skate" before the ladies' short program, cutting Lim's calf. Yonhap reported that Lim had the cut taped before she performed.

An All That Sports official said they believed Bell hitting Lim was "premeditated" because Lim was skating near the walls and Bell "came from behind" when she cut her, Yonhap reported.

PHOTO: Eun Soo Lim of South Korea competes in Junior Ladies group during the Asian Open Figure Skating Trophy 2017, Aug. 5, 2017, in Hong Kong. Power Sport Images/Getty Images, FILE
Eun Soo Lim of South Korea competes in Junior Ladies group during the Asian Open Figure Skating Trophy 2017, Aug. 5, 2017, in Hong Kong.

U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement Friday local time the two skaters had met and there were no hard feelings.

“The athletes met this morning and good luck wishes were exchanged," the statement said. "Mariah is looking forward to competing tonight in the ladies free skate.”

The official also claimed Bell "had been bullying Lim for months and launched a verbal attack" on her, according to Yonhap. The skaters have the same coach, Rafael Arutunian, per their bios.

U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon, who choreographed Bell's routine, disputed the report of bullying in an interview with ABC News and in a prepared statement.

"I have worked with Mariah this past year on her choreography and have trained with her for several years," Rippon said. "Both Mariah and Eun-soo’s coach, Rafeal [Arutyunyan], was also my coach. I can say that bullying was never tolerated in any of our training sessions nor would Rafael allow it to happen during his watch."

ISU, which said the incident was "verbally reported" by the Korean team leader, disputed that the attack was intentional.

"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," ISU said in a statement.

Lim finished in fifth place and Bell finished in sixth in the ladies' short program.

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