KANSAS CITY — Tara Lipinski could see it in Gracie Gold during her warm-up before Thursday’s short program.
“It looks like she’s fearful,” Lipinski said on the NBCSN broadcast. “Gracie has to get mad.”
Gold at first appeared confused. It looked like she lined up to start her performance as if it was her long program before spinning around and resetting before her short program music started.
She would place fifth with a key error, doubling a planned triple flip.
“This is what always happens with Gracie,” Lipinski said on the broadcast of the flip. “You could see it on her face, scared.
“She can do a triple flip in her sleep. There’s no reason she missed that.”
Gold, the defending U.S. champion, is in danger of not making the three-woman world championships team going into the free skate Saturday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).
Gold has struggled ever since topping the 2016 World Championships short program. She fell to fourth at worlds, then had poor outings in all four of her competitions in the fall and made a desperate move to visit her old coach after Christmas.
Lipinski and Johnny Weir spoke with Gold before the U.S. Championships. Weir said he shared with Gold his own story of struggle.
At the 2006 Olympics, Weir placed second in the short program and then fell to fifth overall after the free skate. A year later, he moved and changed coaches.
“I totally get it, but there’s a time when you have to grow up and you have to do your job,” Weir told media Friday. “I chose to change everything that needed change. I changed my coach, choreographer, where I lived. I threw myself completely off, and it was to my benefit. … You have to make those changes, be brave enough to do it.”
Lipinski questioned whether Gold enjoyed competing and said, “there’s no life to her skating right now.”
“You could just see she wasn’t all there,” Weir said. “I think she’s ready for the season to be done, so she can make the changes that she needs to make.”
MORE: U.S. Figure Skating boss: Ban Russia from Olympics