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Gracie Gold taking time off from figure skating to seek professional help

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Gracie Gold will take time away from skating to seek professional help, according to a statement she released to USA Today Sports. Gold, the 2014 and 2016 U.S. champion, finished fourth at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. She also won a bronze medal with the U.S. contingent in the team event.

“My passion for skating and training remains strong,” Gold said in the statement, without going into detail about the type of professional help she will seek. “However, after recent struggles on and off the ice, I realize I need to seek some professional help and will be taking some time off while preparing for my Grand Prix assignments. This time will help me become a stronger person, which I believe will be reflected in my skating performances as well.”

Gold has since pulled out of the Oct. 7 Japan Open, a free-skate only competition, but remains committed to her Grand Prix assignments later in the fall. She is scheduled to compete at the Cup of China in Beijing and the Internationaux de France in Grenoble in November.

The 2018 Olympic team won’t be decided until January’s national championships.

At the 2016 World Championships, Gold fell from first in the short program to fourth overall after the free skate. She faltered in the 2016-17 season, earning a career-low sixth place finish at the 2017 Nationals. She was not named to a world championship team for the first time in her five-year career as a senior skater.

Gold and her Los Angeles-based coach at the time, Frank Carroll, soon split. Gold moved to Canton, Michigan soon after to train with coaches Marina Zoueva and Oleg Epstein.

Earlier in the week, both Russians in the ladies field from the Sochi Olympics also announced they would not be competing this season. Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova is injured and Yulia Lipniskaya, who won gold in the team event, retired.

More on the Russians’ retirements here.

What is the Alpine skiing team event?

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The Alpine skiing team event will make its Olympic debut in PyeongChang

How to watch
Friday, Feb. 23, 9:00 p.m. ET
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Olympic skiing has always been an individual sport. Simply, the fastest skier down the mountain wins the gold medal.

But the world’s best skiers will have to rely on their teammates for the first time in the team event, which is making its Olympic debut in PyeongChang.

The team event will feature 16 teams, or nations, of four athletes (two men and two women). The 16 teams will be arranged in a bracket-style, single-elimination format. Think NCAA March Madness.

A skier from each of the two competing nations will race down the course in a series of head-to-head slalom races. The winner will earn a point for his or her team. The team with the most points after four heats will advance. If the teams have the same number of points, the winner will be the nation with the lower combined time of its fastest male and female competitor.

Teams are allowed to have a maximum of two reserves.

France won the team event at the 2017 World Championships. The U.S., competing without Mikaela Shiffrin, was knocked out in the first round by Canada.

“It’s a really fun event,” said American AJ Ginnis. “The atmosphere—the fact that you get to race with girls and guys and it’s a team effort is really cool.”

Men’s snowboard big air preview

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Now that Anna Gasser of Austria has successfully captured the first-ever Olympic gold medal in women’s snowboard big air, it’s almost time to crown the first-ever Olympic champion on the men’s side.

Big air snowboarding has progressed tremendously in recent years, and there’s been a lot of build-up to these Olympics, so expect heavy tricks to come out quickly in the final.

Or as Mark McMorris put it: “There’s probably [going to be] some mind-boggling s—.”

Every time there’s a big air event, there’s always talk about “quads” — a type of trick that features four inverted flips. It’s such a progressive trick that only two riders have landed a quad in competition, only a few others have done it in training, and many are hesitant to even try.

Read the full preview at NBCOlympics.com