Gracie Gold Out for Season
Gold pulls out of Nationals, meaning she won’t compete at all in the Olympic season.
Right now, the Eastern, Midwestern, and Pacific Coast Sectionals are determining the majority of the skaters who will be at U.S. Nationals. But tonight, we got sad, if not entirely unexpected news, of who would not be. Gracie Gold has given up making Nationals, and with that, competing this season at all.
She describes the decision as breaking her heart, and she likely didn’t make it until she had to. She withdrew from her various scheduled events this season in stages, starting with her warmup event, the Japan Open, then her two Grand Prix events. It was when she pulled out of the latter she first revealed to the world she was suffering from depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder, though she’d hinted at it earlier.
They’d taken their toll on her. Fourth in Sochi, Gold had spent much of the past few years being the next big thing of U.S. ladies skating, culminating in her winning the short program at the 2016 World Championships. But then she struggled in the free skate, failed to medal, and has never been the same since. She skated badly through last season, which ended early with sixth at Nationals. She hasn’t competed since.
For now, it seems she still hopes to come back next season. She can certainly do so. Unlike this season, where her bronze from the Olympic team event got her automatic entry into Nationals, she’d have to qualify, either by competing in Regionals and Sectionals, or doing international events close enough to them to be byed. She can get back onto the Grand Prix as a “comeback” skater, and she could probably get a Challenger event if she wanted one. Or she could just do it from the bottom up, where she’d probably have no problem qualifying. Either way, she’d have most of next year to recover and prepare herself. Hers are afflictions that don’t go away easily, but she could still manage it.
The season hasn’t been the strongest for the U.S. ladies. Ashley Wagner is fighting the good fight, but she had her own troubles last season, and has yet to show the kind of form that won her a World medal. Most of the others are struggling either to skate well at all or to do so consistently. The only one having a good season by her own standards is Mirai Nagasu, and so far in terms of results she’s only gotten so far.
So if Gold were to come back at least skating like she was before that fateful free program at Worlds, she could easily go right back to the top of the U.S. scene, especially if the older Wagner chooses to retire. If, when her current treatment is done, she decides she wants more, her biggest chapter may remain to be written.