Bernadis slashed in hotel attack

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The Independent Online

The French pairs skater Stéphane Bernadis, competing in the World Championships, was attacked by a razor-wielding assailant in his Nice hotel yesterday.

Bernadis answered a knock on the door of his room and was confronted by an unknown attacker who slashed his left arm and then fled.

French competitors have had personal bodyguards at the venue and in other public areas following threats over the last year to the ice dancer Gwendal Peizerat, but World Championship officials said hotel security had been a particular concern because they were unable to secure all the rooms since the competition was moved to Nice from Brisbane at the last minute.

Didier Gailhaguet, president of the French Figure Skating Federation and head of the Championships organising committee, said: "It is quite superficial but I believe it required three or four stitches. He was in shock, psychologically. He has gone away to relax but I have talked to him on the phone and he says he is fine."

The assault is not expected to prevent Bernadis from competing in today's free programme where he and his partner Sarah Abitbol are in fourth place.

The incident raises unhappy memories of the Tonya Harding affair when her rival Nancy Kerrigan was attacked ahead of the US championships in the build-up to the Winter Olympics of 1994. A year earlier, security for sports figures had been called into question when the tennis player Monica Seles was stabbed by a spectator at a tournament in Hamburg.

Gailhaguet said Bernadis had not received any threats, adding: "We cannot tell whether the attack was random, premeditated or the act of a crazy man."