Gracie Gold has not had an ideal season. She has gone from some incredible moments, like at the U.S. Championships where she won back her national title, to complete heartbreak at the 2016 World Championships where she was in the lead after the short program and missed the podium entirely after a flawed free skate. Going from extreme highs to extreme lows can take its toll, but it looks like Gracie will not be allowing the low moments to define her.
Team Captain Kristi Yamaguchi, credited Gold to helping turn things around for Team North America, which led to their victory yesterday at the Team Challenge Cup. Kristi was obviously aware that Gracie had a challenging World Championships and not the best short program at the start of the Team Challenge Cup, but Yamaguchi was incredibly proud of Gold’s free skate. “It was so huge for Gracie,” Kristi said in the Mixed Zone, following the conclusion of the event yesterday, April 23. “Not just for the team, but personally as well. I think that she really went out there and skated like I think she knows how she can skate. She really did start that momentum for team North America to make a comeback.”
Frank had told Gracie Gold prior to her free skate last night, to have fun and enjoy the moment and that’s just what she did. “Doing thirty seven clean long programs going into Worlds at any hour of the day any day of the week, if you’re burned out, if it’s just too much, it doesn’t help you when you’re out there,” Gracie explained in the Mixed Zone, following her free skate. “I like to be 10 times more prepared than necessary, so sometimes at events like this [the Team Challenge Cup] where you’re kind of flying by the seat of your pants, almost works out better.”
Even though it is doubtful that Gold actually wanted to compete at the Team Challenge Cup, after coming off of the World Championships, in many ways it was a good thing that she did and it was just what she needed so that her season did not end on a sour note. “Even after the short program I could feel just a little bit of confidence come back in the sense that, like if I can do that and post a 71 [her score in the short program] maybe I am suppose to be here,” Gracie said.
When it comes to closing out the season she said, “I have mixed feelings. Obviously coming off a skate like that [her free skate at the Team Challenge Cup] I feel really great and all of these amazing things. It’s that feeling that keeps skaters going, where they’re like I want to compete again. But it’s after skates like yesterday [her short program at the Team Challenge] or Worlds…I wish that I had done more things this year, but that also make me more excited for next season.” Gold will be finishing her tour with Stars on Ice, has some off-ice opportunities and will then meet with her choreographer, Lori Nichol to begin working on her programs for next season.
This season has certainly been full of growing pains for Gracie as she has learned many lessons and in the process has discovered the value of a team and how additional support can make a significant difference. “Previously I wouldn’t have considered myself a team player, especially when I was younger,” Gold said. “Soccer was the worst! I played my part so well it was hard having to rely on other people, but the flip side is that they build you up.” Gracie felt terrible after her short program at the Team Challenge Cup because she felt like she wasn’t “pulling her weight” for her team, which actually gave her some extra fire going into the free skate.
Following the World Championships, Gracie made some harsh remarks about her performance and herself as a skater, as she was understandably disappointed. Though it has not been easy for Gold to rebound from that experience, she did learn that in many ways, even when she is not skating in a team event, she does have her own team behind her. “My one takeaway from Boston was that some people were like, ‘we love you even more’ which I thought, ‘why? I dropped the ball.’ But everybody was just really really almost shockingly supportive,” Gracie said.
Even in Spokane Gold noted that from her Uber driver to housekeeping leaving her encouraging notes, to restaurants and Starbucks baristas, everyone was supportive of her, which has helped her deal with her disappointment. Gracie realizes that she has more support than she knows and is so grateful for her fans. “Thank you for the never ending love and support of me, and not just my skating,” Gold wanted to communicate to her fans. “It means a lot when you skate well or you don’t skate well and the support is still genuine and the same. That’s what means the most to me, just the really simple kindness especially when I need it the most.”