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Kaitlin Hawayek, Jean-Luc Baker to miss world figure skating championships

Kaitlin Hawayek, Jean-Luc Baker

TURIN, ITALY - DECEMBER 10: Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker of USA compete in Ice Dance Free Dance during the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final 2022 on December 10, 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco Mantovani/Getty Images)

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Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, the U.S.’ second-ranked ice dance couple, will miss next month’s world figure skating championships.

Hawayek and Baker chose not to compete “as they continue to prioritize their healing and mental health,” according to U.S. Figure Skating on Friday. On Saturday, Hawayek detailed in a social media post some of what she called “personal reasons” for their absence since their last competition in December.

“Many people don’t know that during the Olympic season, I not only experienced a significant concussion, but I also fully tore my ACL in the same training incident,” she posted. “The athlete mentality came into full force as I my dream of going to the Olympic’s was so close to achieving and at that moment, pushing myself to return in time for the season was not a question in my mind. This past year, I have continued to face significant post-concussive challenges that put me in constant pain and limitation to how I could live my life outside training, and as the months past and I pushed through, anxiety and depression really began to have an impact on my life that felt too large to just push through and continue to ignore in order to live the ‘tough competitor’ mentality.”

Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko replace them on the three-couple U.S. ice dance team for worlds in Japan.

Hawayek and Baker, who rank sixth in the world this season by best total score, also withdrew before January’s U.S. Championships, saying in a joint statement that “significant physical injuries have led to challenges in our mental health” over the previous 18 months.

They had successfully petitioned for a spot on the world team, which also includes U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates and U.S. silver medalists Caroline Green and Michael Parsons. Carreira and Ponomarenko were third at nationals.

Hawayek and Baker earned bronze at the previous four U.S. Championships and were 11th in their Olympic debut last year. That came after a delayed start to their 2021-22 season following Hawayek’s concussion in a July 2021 training fall.

After Olympic bronze medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue retired, Hawayek and Baker ascended this past Grand Prix season by ranking second among American couples behind Chock and Bates and placing fifth at December’s Grand Prix Final, their most recent competition.

“Our competitive aspirations are still there, and Jean-Luc and I are putting our focus onto next season, allowing myself to take the time now to get my physical and mental health to where it needs to be to continue to perform with the same authenticity and love that we value so much in what we put out on the ice,” Hawayek posted on Saturday.

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