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Czisny to undergo surgery for torn labrum in hip

Two-time U.S. champion requests, and receives, only one Grand Prix assignment: NHK Trophy

Alissa Czsiny attributes her late-season struggles to her hip injury.
Alissa Czsiny attributes her late-season struggles to her hip injury. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(05/21/2012) - When the 2012 Grand Prix assignments were published Monday morning, Alissa Czisny received one event: NHK Trophy, the final event in the series, held in Miyagi, Japan, in late November.

The two-time U.S. champion, who is fourth in the ISU World Standings, says that single late assignment is at her request. While in Korea to perform in Olympic champion Yu-Na Kim's "All That Skate" shows early this month, pain made most of her jumps -- and even layback spins and spirals -- increasingly difficult to attempt. When the pain persisted after she returned home to Detroit, she booked an MRI for last Wednesday.

"I got the results, and I tore my [left] labrum in my hip," Czisny said. "I am having surgery.

"What they tell me is this kind of injury doesn't happen overnight; it can take months. It starts with weakness and by the time you feel pain, it's too late. It probably explains why I had difficulty jumping and difficulty landing, to say the least."

Czisny is no doubt thinking of her performances at the 2012 World Figure Skating Championships in Nice, France, where repeated falls left her in 22nd place. Time and again, she launched herself into the air for jumps but was unable to hold the landings. A clockwise jumper, she lands on her left side.

"At least this [injury] explains the disastrous end of my season, why things kept getting worse," she said. "If I had known about it earlier, I would not have gone to worlds, because I wasn't going to be 100 percent.

"I would do jumps in practice and then think, 'Why can't I do anything under pressure?' In my head, I knew something was wrong, but [without the pain] you think you can work through it."

Jason Dungjen, who with wife Yuka Sato coaches Czisny at the Detroit Skating Club, confirmed that his skater did not complain of pain at the world championships.

"Did we know about this in Nice? No, but it may have been a factor," he said. "There is really no point reliving what happened; it's time to move forward.

"Yuka and I always tell [our students], 'If you never give up out there, we will always be there for you.' When I looked at [Czisny's free skate], I saw that she never quit, so I'm there for her, and so is Yuka. Most people would have started just doing doubles, but Alissa kept fighting ... In that respect, I'm very proud of what she did, because she didn't give up. I don't know if I could have done what she did."

Czisny opened last season with a victory over Italy's Carolina Kostner at Skate America and went on to claim the bronze medal at Trophée Eric Bompard, which qualified her for the Grand Prix Final in December.

There, she suffered an injury to her left ankle and calf, and placed fifth and last. She won silver at the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January but was not at her best. At her final event before worlds, the International Challenge Cup in the Netherlands, she missed several triples to place behind Italians Kostner and Valentina Marchei.

"In a way it makes me feel better, that I now understand why my season got worse and worse," Czisny said. "It could have begun back before the Grand Prix Final. My injury there could have been caused by trying to overcompensate for this."

Surgery will be scheduled as soon as possible and will be performed in Nashville by Dr. J.W. Thomas Byrd, a well-known specialist who has tended to many other athletes, most recently Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek. Recovery time is uncertain, and Czisny has put plans to choreograph a new free skate with Marina Zoueva on hold.

"This surgery is why we requested as late a Grand Prix as possible, and only one at the moment," she said. "I hope I am ready. I plan to come back and train as hard as I can."