Yulia Lipnitskaia’s Retirement Due to Complications from Anorexia

Yulia Lipnitskaia and Vladimir Putin

Anorexia Forces Gold Medalist Yulia Lipnitskaia to Retire

“The girl in red,” “a tiny genius,” “the future of figure skating,” “a little legend [telegraph].”

These are just some of the titles accredited to powerhouse figure skater and Olympic gold-medalist Yulia Lipnitskaia. Lipnitskaia wowed spectators with her incredible talent and was given the highest sporting honor in Russia, being declared a master of the sport [telegraph].

Yet, there was more going on beneath the surface which led to Lipnitskaia announcing her retirement from figure skating at the young age of 19.

It is not surprising that the incredible pressure to live up to the expectations and appearance of “the future of figure skating” took its toll on Lipnitskaia.

Treatment for Anorexia

In a dynamic show of bravery, Lipnitskaia was honest about her reasons for retiring from figure skating, announcing to the world that she has undergone three months of treatment for anorexia and will be retiring due to complications of the disorder.

Sadly, this story is all too familiar in the world of competitive sports. Studies have determined that eating disorders are more prevalent in those sports where competition results depend on judges opinions and aesthetic evaluations such as figure skating, dance, and gymnastics [1].

Research indicates that this prevalence is not only visual, as competitors in aesthetic sports also tend to perceive that weight-regulation enhances their sports performance, an idea that seems to be triggered by social pressure to be lean [1].

Lipnitskaia had mentioned her struggles with weight and the pressures of fame numerous times. After her success at the 2014 Olympics, Lipnitskaia started feeling as if she had “lost her freedom” and felt “constant stress” when trying live up to her fan’s expectations [2].”

Social Media Rumors

When social media rumors spread that Lipnitskaia was pregnant because she seemed to gain weight, Lipnitskaia fired back, “Do I have to weigh 37 kilograms (82 pounds) for the rest of my life for you to be happy [3]?”

Yulia Lipnitskaia and Dmitry MedvedevRussian coach stated, of Lipnitskaia’s retirement, “Yulia is a star. Some stars shine for a long time while others shine too bright and burnout.”

In a society that over-values thinness and measures worth based on appearance, and a sport that does the same, it is no surprise that so many stars are burning out too soon.

However, many lessons can be gleaned from Yulia Lipnitskaia’s retirement. Namely that, no amount of success or fame is worth sacrificing your health, life, and happiness. It is regrettable that the art of figure skating is losing such a brilliant performer.

Yet, it seems preferable that Lipnitskaia is lost due to early-retirement and decision to do what is right for her body instead of her life and happiness being claimed by such a dangerous disorder.

Image of Margot Rittenhouse.About the Author: Margot Rittenhouse is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.

As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.


[1]: Krentz, E. M., Warschburger, P. (2011). Sports-related correlates of disordered eating in aesthetic sports. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 12, 375-382.
[2]: Lipnitskaia hangs up skates at 19 after battling anorexia (2017). Japan Times. Retrieved from https://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2017/08/29/figure-skating/lipnitskaia-hangs-skates-19-battling-anorexia/#.WcZQqMiGNPY.
[3]: Luhn, A. (2017). Yulia lipnitskaia, russia’s youngest ever winter olympics gold medalist, retires at 19 after anorexia struggle. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/29/yulia-lipnitskaya-russias-youngest-ever-winter-olympics-gold/.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

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Published on September 23, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on September 23, 2017.
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

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