Olympic figure skating stars discuss Pyeongchang plans


SOCHI, Russia – With figure skating complete at the 2014 Olympic Games, the biggest stars of the sport are unsure of what’s next – or if they’ll be in Pyeongchang four years from now.

“I don’t know how to explain what I’m going to do,” said Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova through an interpreter. “We can’t predict the future. We want to take it one step at a time, so we’re not thinking about the Olympics.”

Sotnikova’s controversial upset win over South Korea’s Yuna Kim created a media storm. The day after she bubbled with excitement at a press conference, she was less definitive about the future of her career in an interview with NBCOlympics.com.

“I don’t know [if I’ll go to Pyeonchang],” the 17-year-old added. “Maybe. I would like to start to prepare for the next Olympic Games in one or two years. Right now I’m just happy because I won this gold medal for my country.”

Ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White were unable to say what their future plans were, including if they would compete at the World Championships next month in Japan. The same went for their rivals and training partners, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who won the Olympic silver behind the Americans.

Yet Gracie Gold, the 18-year-old Chicago native who works with legendary coach Frank Carroll, was more forthcoming with her plans – and expectations.

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“I want to finish off this season with a really strong World Championships,” Gold said after the gala exhibition. “I would like to win gold there and I think it’s a real possibility. We’ll sit down after and see what we can accomplish in the next four years.”

The reigning U.S. champion was fourth at the Olympics in singles after helping Team USA to bronze in the inaugural team event.

“Everyone has their dreams,” said Gold. “I don’t write my dreams down; they just live inside of me. My immediate goal is a medal, if not the gold in Pyeongchang. So much can change in four years, so I’ll just have to stick around.”

Gold, as well as teammates Ashley Wagner (22) and Polina Edmunds (15) have said they’ll stick around to try and qualify for Pyeongchang, as well.

Japan’s Mao Asada, who placed sixth after a disappointing short program put her in 16th, said she wasn’t sure if she’d make a third Olympic appearance.

“This time, my heart is very tired,” the 23-year-old, who won silver in Vancouver, told NBCOlympics.com. “My first Olympics I just wanted the gold medal, but this one was for me.”

Russia boasts a strong ladies crop – all under 18. In addition to Sotnikova, 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya helped the team win gold earlier in the Games before placing fifth in the individual competition. Yelena Radiyonova, who turned 15 last month, was unable to compete in Sochi because of age restrictions.

“We have a very strong team for the next four years,” said Russian ice dancer Nikita Katsalapov, who won bronze with partner Yelena Ilinykh.

Bronze medalist Carolina Kostner, in her third Olympics, cautioned over-planning – or looking too far ahead.

“I think the best thing to do is to take it step by step,” said the 27-year-old Italian. “All you can do is try and improve on the little things season by season and that helps you make the big step.”

The bronze medalist in the men’s event, 20-year-old Denis Ten, was more sure of where he would be in four years’ time.

“I’m going to keep skating and expect that I’ll only get better and better. This isn’t my limit, I don’t think,” said Ten, who is also coached by Frank Carroll. “My dream is to go to Pyeongchang. It seems like four years are so far away but time will fly. At this moment I have nothing to say, but as the Olympics get closer, I’m sure I’ll have thoughts.”

“It starts now,” said Virtue, the Canadian ice dancer. “There’s always room for adaptation, but making a plan for Korea and then heading in that direction is the way to go.”

Her teammate, men’s silver medalist Patrick Chan, agreed.

“I wouldn’t suggest anyone looking four years ahead,” said the three-time world champion, who lost the gold to Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu. “How many times have people planned so far ahead and things didn’t turn out right? When you start thinking about the future you start doubting and wondering and stressing. You should approach it year by year.”