Gracie Gold

Coach-less Gracie Gold could pair with Frank Carroll

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Gracie Gold will leave Michigan for a tryout with venerable figure skating coach Frank Carroll in California on Wednesday, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Gold, 18, is coming off a disappointing performance at the U.S. International Classic in Salt Lake City last week. She fell in her short program and missed on four jumps in her free skate, finishing second to Courtney Hicks. Gold is the reigning U.S. silver medalist and sixth-place finisher from the World Championships.

Carroll, 75, coached Michelle Kwan for much of her career and is currently the coach of Olympic champion Evan Lysacek and world silver medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan.

It surfaced over the weekend that Gold, a Springfield, Ill., native, split from Chicago-area coach Alex Ouriashev. That split happened late last month, according to the newspaper. She has since been training in Michigan with her choreographer. She may stay in Michigan or be based in California with Carroll.

It’s a concern that one of the best skaters in the world is without a coach five months before the Games, but it’s not unprecedented.

(Shizuka) Arakawa left her coach two months before the Olympics, and that worked out for her,” Gold told the newspaper. “I don’t feel nervous at all, just excited about the opportunities this season holds.”

Japan’s Arakawa was the surprise 2006 Olympic gold medalist, coming out ahead of Sasha Cohen and Irina Slutskaya.

Gold said she didn’t think she would completely shift to Los Angeles if she joins with Carroll, saying she would travel between California and Michigan.

“She needs to listen to a voice, not many voices,” Carroll said. “I think having many coaches is a mistake. I think she does have to be settled, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be with me.”

Gold wasn’t assigned a spot at Skate America, Oct. 18-20, but she is scheduled for Skate Canada, Oct. 25-27. The biggest pre-Olympic competition is, of course, nationals in Boston in January.

Three U.S. women will be chosen for the U.S. Olympic team after nationals — likely the top three finishers. Two-time reigning U.S. champion Ashley Wagner must be considered the top contender now.

Gold was right behind her after a breakthrough season, but she was beaten at the U.S. International Classic by Hicks, who was fourth at last season’s nationals, behind Wagner, Gold and Agnes Zawadzki. The fifth-place finisher at nationals, Christina Gao, is also a threat to make it to Sochi.

It appears the next few days will go a long way in determining the next few months for Gold.

Max Aaron has plenty of work ahead of U.S. International Classic

Syria-born Olympian takes advocacy role at U.N. refugee agency

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GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency has chosen as a goodwill ambassador a Syrian teenage girl who helped save a boat carrying fellow refugees and later became an Olympic swimmer.

Yusra Mardini was appointed as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador on Thursday, joining other notables like actress Cate Blanchett and author Khaled Hosseini in the unpaid advocacy role.

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said Mardini “represents the hopes, the fears and the incredible potential of the more than 10 million young refugees around the globe.”

Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped overboard and swam for hours alongside their overloaded boat to reach Greece from Turkey in 2015.

She swam on the first Refugee Olympic team in Rio last year and has discussed refugees’ challenges with leaders like Pope Francis and President Barack Obama.

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Rafael Nadal recreates famous 1992 Olympic cauldron lighting

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Rafael Nadal, owner of two Olympic gold medals, recently parroted arguably the most famous moment in Spanish Olympic history.

Nadal and Marc Lopez, the 2016 Olympic doubles champions, took up bows and arrows and joined archer Antonio Rebollo on Monday at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Stadium. It brought back memories of Rebollo’s unforgettable cauldron lighting from the only Olympics held in Spain.

Nadal is in Barcelona for an ATP Tour event as he prepares to vie for a 10th French Open title next month.

Rebollo, now 61 years old, was one of 200 hundred archers considered to light the cauldron in 1992. He learned that he was chosen for the role over four other finalists two hours ahead of time, according to an NBC Olympics profile in 1996.

The cauldron would be 195 feet away. Fearing Rebollo would miss the target, organizers instructed him to fire his arrow beyond the stadium walls. As the arrow soared, a technician lit the natural gas flame with a remote control.

The illusion worked. The true story wasn’t revealed for another 20 years.

“There were no fears,” Rebollo, a Barcelona native who contracted polio at age 8, told NBC two decades ago. “I was practically a robot. I focused on my positioning and reaching the target. That was all. … My feelings were taken from the people who described to me how they saw it. What they felt, their emotions, their cries. This is what made me realize what the moment actually meant.”

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