Gracie Gold: “I perform my best when I stay fully in each moment”
By Vladislav Luchianov
When the guys on Wall Street say that prices for the gold are rising gradually, I finally understand what they mean. The beginning of the debut season in the senior skating was not an easy one for the 17-year-old American Gracie Gold.
But the beginning is just a part of a long skating season and Gracie proved, and not once, that her last name correlates very well with the general trend of her performances, some of which were no less valuable than those that bring first places. This season, she didn’t succeed to win personal gold at her events but we can safely say that the constant improvements of her performances leave no doubt that she’s on the way to main achievements.
Gracie finished seventh at her senior ISU Grand Prix debut at the 2012 Skate Canada. At her second event, the 2012 Rostelecom Cup, she took the silver medal. At the 2013 U.S. Nationals, Gold placed ninth in the short program but was first in the free skate showing a stunning performance and won the silver overall.
She was named in the U.S. team to the 2013 Four Continents and finished sixth at the event. At the 2013 World Championships, Gracie placed ninth in the short program, fifth in the free skate, and sixth overall setting a new personal best score of 184.25 points. Gold, with a teammate Ashley Wagner, who finished in fifth place, thus secured three spots for the U.S. ladies at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
At the 2013 World Team Trophy in Tokyo, she finished third, setting a personal and season’s best score of 188.03 points. Team USA won the gold for the second time since 2009.
The author talked with Gracie about this past season, about the goals for the Olympic season and about her free time activities.
Gracie, first of all, tell us your impressions of the last event of the season – 2013 World Team Trophy. Your team won and you set a new personal and season’s best score there.
Gracie Gold: World Team Trophy was the perfect ending for my season. I love Tokyo and the Japanese fans are amazing! Participating in a team event is unusual in figure skating and I love the camaraderie Team USA shared. Earning my season’s & personal best and contributing to our team’s victory was a sweet success. Standing on the podium with my teammates is a highlight in my skating career!
How would you evaluate your first season in senior’s skating in general?
Gold: This season was very challenging but ultimately very rewarding. I learned a lot about myself, and how to handle the pressure of skating at the Worlds level. I think I proved to others, and myself, that I belong with the best of the best. This year I had to fight through some tough moments, but I survived and I think I’m stronger because of it.
And what was your most exciting moment of this past season and why?
Gold: The most exciting moment of this past season was when I finished my long program at the U.S. Championships. After such a disappointing short program, when it seemed my dream of making the World team was gone, being able to perform that long program was incredible! It was that moment that everyone dreams of, when everything feels possible.
At your first World Championships you finished 6th. Did you expect such a success?
Gold: Honestly, I did not know what to expect going into this World Championships. My ultimate goal was to skate two clean programs and help get three spots back for the U.S. I knew I needed to place at least top ten for that to happen. I was very happy with my long program scores and placing in the top six. My first World Championships was an amazing experience!
You have a strong technical arsenal. What is your opinion on jumping elements in modern ladies skating? Will they become more and more difficult?
Gold: I think that a lot of us are pushing the envelope technically, more and more each year. This year there were a lot more triple-triple combinations being tried and completed than in the past couple of seasons. I plan to keep adding harder jumps and combinations to my programs. I don’t think we’ve reached the limit yet.
This season you also increased your scores for components. Tell us, please, about this aspect of your skating work?
Gold: This past season we worked hard on making that transition from Junior Ladies skating to Senior Ladies skating. I spent a lot of time working on my skating skills and my transitions in and out of jumps. By the end of the season, I think there was a noticeable improvement. I am very excited for this upcoming season; I think everyone will be impressed with my new programs.
Is there any special character (or characters) that you would like to perform in your future programs?
Gold: I don’t have a specific character in mind, but are some beautiful pieces of music that I hope to skate to in the future.
Any skater is very concentrated before competitions but American ladies usually look very relaxedly on the ice. However, they do not lose concentration during the performance. How would you describe the portrait of an American figure skater?
Gold: I don’t know if I can speak to the portrait of an American figure skater. For myself, I try to reach a sense of relaxed focus. I know that I perform my best when I stay fully in each moment. If I think too far ahead or worry about what has already happened, then I am out of focus and can have lapses in the concentration I need for my performance.
In your opinion, how should modern ladies singles skating look, taking into account technical and artistic issues?
Gold: Modern ladies’ singles skating attempts to combine the most challenging technical elements with beautiful, inspirational interpretation of the music. The goal is for the performance to come across as a complete, seamless performance. It should look easy and effortless in spite of the great difficulty.
When Gracie Gold has a free time, she likes…?
Gold: Gracie Gold does not have that much free time, but when she does, she likes to catch up on popular TV shows, read, be outside, hang out with friends, or go shopping.
A few words about your main goals for the Olympic season.
Gold: My main goal for this season is to qualify for the Olympic Games. My ultimate season’s goal would be to score 200+ and make the podium.