March 22, 1997

Humphreys withdraws due to foot injury

 LAUSANNE, Switzerland (CP) -- Canadian champion Susan Humphreys had to withdraw from the world figure skating championships minutes before the women's free skating began Saturday afternoon due to an infection just above the left ankle where she ties her skate boot.
 "There's no way I could have skated," said Humphreys. "I was willing to skate through the pain Friday but it escalated to the point where I just couldn't do anything.
 "It's like a club foot because I can barely fit it into my skate."
 Humphreys was 21st among 27 in the women's singles short program Friday. Bothered by the swollen ankle, she fell twice.
 The 21-year-old Edmontonian had minor surgery late Friday night to drain the abscessed area and was kept in hospital overnight to be administered antibiotics intravenously.
 Humphreys skates in bare feet, as do many world-class competitors, and constant rubbing of the boot leather against the upper ankle caused the initial abrasion.
 "It's not a serious infection but because of the location it's impossible for her to comfortably put her skate boot on," said Dr. Bob Stalker of Halifax, the Canadian team physician. "If she had this infection on any other part of her body she would be able to skate but, unfortunately, because of the location she has had to withdraw.
 "It's not a serious infection and its well-controlled. She'll be skating again within the next two weeks, I'm sure."
 Humphreys was released from hospital an hour before her warmup was scheduled to begin. At the arena, International Skating Union medical personnel examined her leg and advised her not to go ahead.
 Humphreys watched the final flight of skaters on a monitor in the media work room in the Malley arena, wishing she'd been able to compete but relieved the infection had been stopped from spreading.
 "You can't beat yourself up over something you have no control over," she said.
 According to David Dore, director general of the Canadian Figure Skating Association, the withdrawal had implications for of the 1998 Winter Olympics.
 Had Humphreys skated, Canada would have received one women's singles entry. Now, to get the Olympic spot, the CFSA will have to send a skater to an Olympic qualifying meet in Vienna in October. The top 24 here and the top six in Vienna qualify their countries for Olympic berths.
 Dore said he never considered pressing Humphreys to skate Saturday even after officials from some other countries' associations "suggested she could go and stand in the middle of the ice for four minutes" so Canada would get the automatic Olympic spot.
 "I did't favor that," said Dore. "I think it's a back-door entry.
 "I don't think it would make any of us proud and I don't think it would make Susan proud."
 Besides, "Nothing is worth harming a person's health. I mean, she wasn't fit to skate."