Gracie Gold Out for the Fall
High-profile American lady pulls out of her Grand Prix events, in treatment for multiple mental health issues.
Back at the beginning of September, Gracie Gold announced she was “taking time off” but only pulled out of her warm-up event, the Japan Open. She also spoke of getting “professional help” without going into details. However, she’d admitted earlier to struggling emotionally with her weight and with her tremendous disappointment at the 2016 World Championships. And we’d certainly all seen the disastrous season that had followed; ending with she who’d been at the top of the ladies scene not making it back to Worlds.
Now, however, things are much clearer. For one thing, she’s pulled out of her Grand Prix events too, meaning she likely won’t compete until U.S. Nationals in January. If she doesn’t ultimately need to pull out of that. It’s uncertain when she’ll be fit to compete again, given she’s now in full treatment for depression, anxiety, and an unspecified eating disorder. None of those, after all, are things that go away overnight. She does make clear she doesn’t want this to be the end of her skating career.
If she makes it to Nationals and skates well there, she will still in all likelihood make the Olympic team; she remains one of the biggest talents of the field. But now there is not only the question of whether she’ll be capable of the latter by January, but also whether it’s even a good idea to attempt the former. Whatever decision she makes there, we all have to hope it proves the right one for her and her mental health, and that she recovers the latter, however long it may take her.
Not too long ago, most would’ve thought missing this entire season would be the end of most opportunities for her, because she’s older than 21. But such, happily, is not the case these days. Plenty of skaters have found great and sometimes their greatest successes at older than that, including Gold’s longtime intranational rival Ashley Wagner. In fact, if Wagner makes the Olympics at 26 this season, which she’s favored to do, there’s no reason Gold can’t do the same in four year’s time. She can also look to Japanese skating star Akiko Suzuki, who came back from anorexia and had her biggest successes in her late twenties. Even if she doesn’t make it to Nationals, this need not be the end for her at all.
The first event to lose her, the Cup of China, will remain a very competitive one, with no less than eight serious medal contenders with varying chances, even if her replacement doesn’t factor in. Several of those skaters would’ve competed against her again at the Internationaux de France, in a field that was and remains only a little weaker than China’s.