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Gracie Gold Has Eye on Prize

by Liz Leamy

Gracie Gold, the 18 year-old 2013 U.S. silver medalist known for her jumping acumen, has her eyes on the prize as she gears up for her hunt for a possible first-ever National title and coveted spot on the 2014 Olympic team at the U.S. Championships in Boston next week.

Over the past few months, the Chicago-area based native, who is the 2012 U.S. junior champion and 2012 World junior silver medalist, has made some major changes in order to insure that she has a golden season that would match her name.

This past August, Gold announced she was going to leave Alex Ouriashev, her longtime coach in Chicago. The following month, she said she was going to relocate with her family to Los Angeles in order to train with the iconic Frank Carroll at the Toyota Sports Center.

Clearly, the decision seems have been a good one for Gold, who moved to an apartment near the beach with her mother, Denise, an emergency room nurse and twin sister, Carly, who also competes at the senior level, from their home in Springfield, Illinois.

“Everything is falling into place and it seems like it was just meant to be,” said Gold in a conference call last Friday. “I feel like I’m a different person and skater.”

Aside from enjoying the California lifestyle, with perks such as being able to hear the ocean at night, Gold has savored the opportunity of working with Carroll, who coached such American skating icons as Evan Lysacek, the 2010 Olympic titlist, Michelle Kwan, the nine-time U.S., five-time World champion and two-time Olympic medalist, Linda Fratianne, the 1980 Olympic silver medalist, the late Christopher Bowman, a two-time U.S. winner and World medalist and Tiffany Chin, a two-time World bronze medalist, among others.

Aside from working on her overall technique, Carroll has helped Gold reconfigure her mental approach in regard to her of training and competing.

“[At the rink] I remind myself to relax, bend my knees and to stay in the moment,” said Gold. “When you go into competition you [have to] just trust the training.”

So far, this approach seems to be working well for Gold who is said to have been hitting her triple jumps on a consistent basis.

“The triple-triple has been red hot as Frank would say,” said Gold, adding that she has been working on her overall calmness.

Since moving to Los Angeles, Gold has made some major changes in regard to her competitive plans. Following the NHK Trophy last November, where she placed fourth, Carroll proposed she start fresh with a new short program that would be done by the venerable Canadian-based choreographer, Lori Nichol, who assisted Kwan and Lysacek, among others, and she agreed.

Subsequently, her program to a Gershwin medley was replaced with a new one to the classical Greek Adagio Concerto designed to showcase her artistry and grace as well as her technical skills.

“It’s a really classical and traditional piece,” said Gold, who kept her long program to Tchaikovsky’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ for the remainder of the season. “It’s a great program, I just have to deliver it. The big difference is that I’m skating the program.”

So far, Gold has delivered the technical goods with this program, which she skated clean at a show in New Jersey as well as at two exhibitions at the Toyota Sports Center.

“The crowd seemed to love it and I got a lot of compliments,” said Gold, who said she is looking to skate competitive programs this season that people ‘will pull up on YouTube [the internet public video site] years later.’

In order to up her performance ante, Gold has been working earnestly with Galina Barinova, a former prima ballerina with the Bolshoi Ballet these past few months as well and hopes the effort will show next week in Boston.

“I’ve worked really hard with my ballet instructor,” she said.

More than anything, Gold said she has particularly enjoyed being in a whole new rink environment and has relished training alongside other skaters such as Denis Ten, the 2013 Kazakhstani World silver medalist and Scott Dyer, a 2014 National championship men’s qualifier. (Ten had taken time out this fall, however, when an infection caused him to withdraw from Skate America last October.)

“I’ve had the opportunity to make lots of friends,” said Gold. “It’s a great training environment.”

Ultimately, Gold seems to have made up her mind to live up to her name and prove herself as an American skating star going in Boston next week, an affirmation that seems like it could very well come to pass.

“I feel really good about going to Boston and I’m looking forward to this event, it’ll be amazing,” said Gold. “It’s about risk and reward and I’m really focusing on all of the rewards.”

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