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Colorado Springs Olympic figure skating coach banned for life after misconduct allegations

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) – The U.S. Center for SafeSafeport banned U.S. Olympic pairs figure skating coach Dalilah Sappenfield for life for violations that include physical and emotional misconduct. 

SafeSport issued the ban Wednesday on its centralized disciplinary database. Sappenfield's additional violations include retaliation, proactive policy violation, abuse of process, and failure to report a potential SafeSport violation, according to the database. She has the right to appeal the lifetime ban. 

On September 3, 2021, Safesport issued temporary measures against Sappenfield, including a directive prohibiting her from having any contact with the skaters involved in the investigation and a requirement that another adult must be present to directly supervise her while coaching. 

Despite the temporary SafeSport measures, Sappenfield was allowed to be at the 2024 U.S. figure skating championships in January, coaching a pairs team because SafeSport was still working on her case 2.5 years after it began. 

According to figure skaters, Sappenfield coached at the World Arena Ice Hall in Colorado Springs for many years, starting in the early 2000s. During the COVID pandemic, she switched her camp to coach at Monument Ice Rinks.

Sappenfield has been a top U.S. pairs coach for nearly two decades. She won the 2008 Professional Skaters Association/U.S. Figure Skating Coach of the Year award. She coached three-time U.S. champions Alexa and Chris Knierim, who competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

Sappenfield answered a phone call from KRDO13 Investigates but told us she had "no comment."

We reached out to SafeSport and they provided the following statement.

Culture change is happening. Actions that were once tolerated or ignored are no longer accepted, and accountability is taking root. That’s progress, but creating long-term culture change requires steadfast commitment by everyone in the sport community to fostering safe environments for athletes to fulfill their potential. Those who cling to toxic tactics will be left behind and on the wrong side of history.

CEO, Ju’Riese Colón

We reached out to U.S. Figure Skating and they provided the following statement.

By courageously reporting the details of her trauma, [a figure skater] actions may help other survivors to come forward. U.S. Figure Skating encourages anyone who has been abused or suspects abuse to report it to local law enforcement, the U.S. Center for SafeSport or U.S. Figure Skating.

US Figure Skating
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