By Michelle Kennedy
Photos by Robin Ritoss
Needless to say, Gracie Gold has had a challenging season. After a disappointing fourth place ﬁnish at the 2016 World Championships, Gracie has been on a downward spiral in her career. Gold has been vocal and transparent about her disappointment from the World Championships and has clearly been unhappy about her performances this season. She ﬁnally hit her breaking point after ﬁnishing in sixth place at Golden Spin in Zagreb, Croatia in December.
“I knew that I couldn’t skate the way I was skating at the U.S. Championships,” Gold said during a U.S. Figure Skating media call.“As the U.S. Champion I couldn’t be skating this way, I don’t want to be skating this way, I don’t want to be feeling this way, that it was time to do something different, it was time to wake up.”
Following that event, Gold met with her coach, Frank Carroll and asked if she could work with her previous coach, Alex Ourashiev, in Chicago, to improve her jumping technique. She was scared to ask him, but he was incredibly supportive. Carroll knew that what they were doing wasn’t working and he was willing to try something different to see if it would help Gold get out of her “funk.”
Gold and Ourashiev did not part ways well and she was unsure how she would be received. Gold didn’t know if he would even take her calls, but he did and welcomed her to come and train with him. Gold went to Chicago after Christmas and trained with him for two weeks and returned back to L.A. just last week.
“My conﬁdence going into the U.S. Championships, I guess some would say that it is surprisingly high,” Gracie said. “With Alex, it seemed like everything came back so quickly. It was like ﬂipping a switch.”
Gold went on to explain how the World Championships was “the perfect storm” for her. Boston is where she qualiﬁed for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014 and it was the perfect place and time for her to become the World Champion. She had an incredible performance at the World Championships and was in ﬁrst place following the short program and well positioned to take the world title. She built up the World Championships in such a signiﬁcant way that to have it within her grasp and then failing to make the podium, was devastating for her and she has been unable to recover.
“I never felt so disappointed in myself,” Gold confessed. “I had trusted my training, and really felt I had done everything right, and I had come up what I felt was so short,” She continued. “I know fourth in the world is not in any way traumatic, but to me it was…Really, I should have just gotten over it and picked myself up like any other disappointment and just gotten on with it. But I just didn’t, and I couldn’t get my feet back under me, and I continued to spiral down.
Gold continued sharing the process that she has been going through this season. “I loved (this year’s) programs, but I just didn’t love myself and my skating. When I took some time off, instead of taking time off to recharge and reboot the system, I just became more and more distant from the sport. Every time you take time off and get back on the ice, of course you’re not as good, so I felt less and less capable…I just felt like a shell of my former self, which seems dramatic, and it is a little bit. But I could never grow up and just start training.
It wasn’t until Gold spent time in Chicago that she was able to put the events of last season in perspective. Ourashiev reminded her of when she was younger that she had blown sectionals and did not qualify for Nationals that year. He reminded her that she came back from that and she could come back from this too.
“Really, just being back in Chicago, it brought me back to my roots in some way,” Gold explained. “I’m feeling so much better, there’s a huge quality change with my skating. I’m kind of falling back in love with the sport and with my programs and, most importantly, with myself. I’m forgiving myself for failing.”