“Success of Russia’s Female Figure Skaters Takes a Toll in Injuries and Stress” (nytimes) raises some questions.
First, is it any more punishing on the body to train to a world-class level in Russia compared to in the U.S. or anywhere else? The answer within the article seems to be “no”:
Johnny Weir, a retired, two-time Olympian from the United States who trained with Russians during his career, said that while there was always danger in overtraining or attempting jumps a skater was not ready for, Russian coaches and officials were systematic and careful in their approach.
“There are far more injuries to the Americans, I find,” he said.
Second, is it so bad to take the risk of injury given that most Americans are essentially crippled by middle age? We don’t need to skate to fall apart. We just need to eat and sit and then eat some more. If we’re going to be decrepit by middle age, why not strive to be in great shape for at least a few years in our youth?