Skater Bernadis had death threat before attack

Published: Friday, Oct. 9 2015 2:00 a.m. MDT

NICE, France — French pairs skater Stephane Bernadis said Thursday he had received death threats before the knife attack on him at the world figure skating championships.
Bernadis, who had his left arm slashed on the eve of the pairs final Wednesday by an unknown assailant when he opened his hotel room door, told a news conference he had been warned in the weeks leading up to the competition that he "would die soon."
"About three weeks ago I received two anonymous phone calls," said Bernadis, who was flanked by bodyguards. "I knew someone was there because I could hear them breathing.
"Then later I parked my car in front of my home in Paris and found a sheet of paper with the message, 'you will die soon'.
"I didn't panic that much. I was not scared.
"The handwriting looked really childish so I wasn't that concerned."
Bernadis gave a detailed account of the attack that left him needing stitches to close the gash and painkillers to make it through his four-and-a-half minute long program.
The attack, however, failed to prevent Bernadis and his partner Sarah Abitbol winning France's first pairs medal since 1932. They took the bronze in an emotionally-charged performance in front of a sellout audience at the Palais des Expositions.
"I was watching TV in my room and I heard a knock on the door," said Bernadis. "When I opened it I immediately felt something on my left arm.
"At first I didn't realize what had happened.
"I put my right hand on my left arm and there was blood all over the place.
"My first thought was I couldn't skate and I really panicked..I started crying.
"I called my bodyguard but I didn't want to answer the door. I was crying and yelling 'help, help, help'.
"I finally opened the door and he twisted a towel around my arm and then three or four more bodyguards arrived."
Police are investigating the incident and have questioned Bernadis, who said he did not get a good look at his attacker.
The French skater also tried to put an end to rumors that had begun circulating around the championships that there was no wound, or if there was, it had been self-inflicted in order to gain attention and sympathy ahead of the decisive free skate.
When told of the rumors at the end of the long program, Bernadis angrily ripped off the bandage, displaying the wound to a line of television cameras.
"I was told I had to show the scar, the injury to prove it was a true injury and not a lie and that it could not have been done by a Coke can," Bernadis said.
"I showed the scar in front of all the cameras."
At the post-competition media conference, the organizing committee's chief doctor Jean-Claude Moati also refuted the rumors, saying the wound could not have been self-inflicted.
"I am here to shoot down rumors that there is no injury at all," said Moati. "It is true there is a long injury on the left arm, one that required stitches.
"I can assure you this is not an injury you can do to yourself. It is an injury made by someone else."

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