by Liz Leamy
(24 October 2014)
Perhaps more than anything, these two 2014 Olympic contenders, both of who hail from the Chicago suburban area and are 19 years old, want to do their home state proud with memorable medal-winning performances.
“I feel really great and I’m glad I’m going back to Chicago where I grew up,” said Gold, a Springfield native who has been training in Los Angeles with Frank Carroll since last year.
Brown, of Highland Park, is also excited at the prospect of competing in front of his hometown crowd.
“Starting off the Grand Prix season in Chicago at Skate America is so [exciting],” said Brown, who clinched gold at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Obersdorf, Germany last month.
Brown, who trains in Monument Park, Colorado, with Kori Ade, said the Windy City also represented a great location for the event due to the area’s rich figure skating history.
“Chicago has such an [incredible] skating community,” said Brown, noting that coming up the ranks, he had been inspired by skaters who would regularly do triple jumps at area competitions.
“[They] were really an amazing influence,” said Brown, who currently is at the helm of the venerable Midwestern U.S. men’s singles brigade, the same faction from which Evan Lysacek, the 2010 Olympic champion (Naperville, Illinois) and Timothy Goebel, the 2002 Olympic bronze medalist (Cleveland), had both originated.
Last season, Brown catapulted into the sport’s spotlight when he claimed silver at the U.S. Championships, jumping all the way from eighth place in 2013.
This season, Brown is looking to achieve two personal firsts, a U.S. title and berth on the World team. (Last year, he had competed on the U.S. Olympic, but not the World team.)
“I think setting goals is [important] and is always in the back of my mind,” said Brown. “I think being honest with yourself [about goals] is really important, you want to look into the future.”
Brown is a person who seems to know how to turn dreams and goals into reality, that’s for sure.
In January, he rocked audiences everywhere with his stunning ‘Riverdance’ free skate at the U.S. Championships, a program that to date, has received more than 4.8 million YouTube hits, making it the most-watched figure skating video ever on the Internet.
“I look at how far I’ve come from Skate America last year,” said Brown, who was fifth in that event. “I’ve learned a lot at every competition and applying it.”
No doubt, Brown’s mental game seems to be as strong as his physical one, especially in regard to the perspective he has about his skating.
Last month at the Nebelhorn Trophy, Brown had been downgraded on four triples in his free skate, a Lutz, flip and two Axels.
Rather than be deterred, Brown instead used this experience as an incentive to further push himself harder in his skating.
“I look at it in a positive light, there is so much room for me to grow.”
In the past year, Brown has also learned about the importance of pacing himself at events due to his two-week competitive experience at the Sochi Olympics.
“For as long as I’ve competed, it had been one-week events until Sochi,” said Brown. “I’ve learned to make total use of my off time, being alone and [learning to] shift and turn all the way down.”
There is no denying that Brown is an expert at knowing how to turn on his energy up to an optimum level out on out on the ice and will most likely continue to have a profound impact upon audiences with his skating.
“Hopefully it just keeps developing from here,” he said. “I feel excited and strong.”
Gracie Gold, who last month, scored bronze at the Nebelhorn Trophy, is also looking to make an impact and also tally up some big marks at this event.
“I feel really good about the possibilities going into the season,”said the self-proclaimed California convert, who lives in Hermosa Beach with her mother, Denise, an ER nurse, and fraternal twin sister, Carly, a senior ladies skater.
“It’s all about my performance and [trusting] the training.”
This seems to be a good approach, as this past summer, Gold was said to have been in tip-top training form at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo where she would knock out triples on a consistent basis with veritable ease.
Over the next four years, Gold wants to continue strengthening the quality of her technical content and bring a new level of maturity to her skating.
“Frank and I are working on jumping and consistency and training the program,” she said.
Gold also said she is particularly excited about her ‘Phantom of the Opera’ free skate this season, which was choreographed by Lori Nichol.
“I really like the lyrics [in it],” said Gold.
Most definitely, Gold is a natural-born competitor looking to bring her ‘A’ game wherever she goes, especially this event here in her hometown, but ultimately, it is the love of skating that really drives her.
“I love to skate and it’s a blessing to do what I love everyday,” she said.