Olympic ice dancers Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who had recently taken time off for mental health reasons, withdrew from both of their Grand Prix assignments Wednesday after he sustained a concussion during a fall in practice.
Hawayek and Baker were planning to make their comeback at the Grand Prix de France and the NHK Trophy, which they won in 2018 for their only senior-level Grand Prix triumph. But they said in a joint statement that while Baker’s recovery is going well, they have decided to take extra time off and aim for their return at the U.S. championships in January.
“This year has been full of ups and downs for us as a team,” Hawayek and Baker said in their statement. “If we have learned anything over the course of our career, it is that concussions are not an injury to rush the process of returning from.”
Baker sustained a concussion in 2015, when Hawayek accidentally struck him in practice, though they returned to finish fourth at Skate America. He sustained another in 2018, causing the pair to withdraw from the Finlandia Trophy, though they returned in time for the Grand Prix season.
Two years ago, Hawayek sustained a concussion after falling on a lift in practice. The duo withdrew from the U.S. Classic and the NHK Trophy but returned at the Rostelecom Cup, which they used as a springboard to a third-place finish at nationals and a spot on the Olympic team, finishing 11th at the Beijing Games.
This past January, Hawayek and Baker announced they were stepping away ahead of nationals because of “significant physical injuries that have led to challenges in our mental health.” They successfully petitioned for a spot on the U.S. team for worlds but announced in February that they were withdrawing from that event, too.
Hawayek and Baker are four-time U.S. bronze medalists. They also have been in the top 10 at worlds on four occasions.
“Our passion to compete is still very much present,” Hawayek and Baker said in their statement, “we have just had to be more patient than expected this past year. We have set our sights on returning to compete at the national championships, where we can come into the event with the best physical and mental health as possible.”
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