Gracie Gold

Gracie Gold calls audible, adds lyrics for post-Olympic season

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Gracie Gold looks to a fresh start going into next week’s Skate America, with the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics already on her mind.

“I have another four years left in me, if not more,” Gold said in a teleconference Tuesday. “It’s a fresh start on my skating career for both [the] Grand Prix [season] and leading into Nationals [the U.S. Championships in Greensboro, N.C., in January]. I feel good about the possibilities.”

Gold – who last season earned her first U.S. Championship, an Olympic team event bronze medal, a fourth-place individual finish in Sochi and fifth at the World Championships – took third in her international season debut at Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany two weeks ago.

She was the most decorated skater in the Nebelhorn field but said she felt nervous and wasn’t at her best, leading to a fall in the short program and popping a jump in her free skate.

At Nebelhorn, Gold debuted a long program that included something new for this season – vocal music with lyrics – even though in April she said she’d let other skaters play around with skating to lyrics before trying her own.

“I absolutely did not intend to use lyrics this year,” Gold said. “But [my team] had cut this piece of music for me, and they had fallen in love with it. They played it for me, and I was still unsure, even when I got on the ice to choreograph. We had a couple of backup ideas. But as soon as I started moving to it, I started to fall in love with it.”

But the most surprising of all?

“It really shocked me that [Coach] Frank [Carroll] loved it, because I thought that he wouldn’t be into lyrics at all,” Gold said of her coach, whom she calls “legendary” and has been part of the sport since the 1950s.

Not everyone will share Carroll and Gold’s disposition toward her medley from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. The 19-year-old knows that.

“Competing is definitely rooted in tradition, but I like [lyrics],” Gold said. “I don’t think of it as a crutch. I actually think it can help enhance the program. But I know that traditionalists will never quite accept lyrics the way they like their classical music.”

Gold also has added stability this season. She left her Illinois base in August 2013 and moved to the Golden State to work with Carroll one month later. “A California convert,” Gold said she’s looking at potential colleges — Loyola Marymount, UCLA and USC.

She’ll go back to her native Illinois next week for the first of her two Grand Prix season assignments at Skate America, where she hopes to be more confident than in Germany two weeks ago.

“Not every competition is the Olympic Games,” Gold said. “I just need to relax and have a little more fun with competing.”

A lot of the points Gold missed at Nebelhorn were lost from technical scoring. The goal for Skate America is to get some back through her jumps.

“Frank and I are really working on the consistency of the triple Lutz-triple toe,” she said. “So even if the triple Lutz is a little off, that cat-like ability to land on your feet and snag a triple toe.”

And of course, with Yuna Kim and Mao Asada – leaders the past two Olympic cycles – out of the picture this season, Gold has a clear path to move up. She has her eye on competition from Russia and Japan.

Gold is the only woman in the Skate America field who finished in the top eight at the Olympics or the World Championships one month later.

But she will not be an overwhelming favorite, given the presence of two-time reigning World Junior champion Elena Radionova, who was too young for Sochi but finished second at last year’s NHK Trophy event in Japan, two spots ahead of Gold.

“It’s a different field [overall this season], but I think that I’m ready for it,” Gold said. “I can be in the top. There will be no more than three Russians that I have to face per competition, so not all of them at one time.”

Meryl Davis, Charlie White discuss their future in ice dance

World short-track speedskating championships will be moved, postponed or canceled

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The International Skating Union announced Tuesday that the world short-track speedskating championships will not proceed as scheduled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Seoul’s Mokdong Ice Rink, where the competition was set to be held March 13-15, held the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships earlier this month but closed on Monday.

The ISU left open the possibility that the championships will be postponed or relocated, but the window to do so may close rapidly.

“Taking into account the uncertain world-wide development of the coronavirus, the limited and uncertain available time slots during the coming weeks and the logistical challenges of potential organizers and participating teams, a postponement and/or relocation of the Championships would be difficult to achieve,” the ISU said. “Nevertheless, a postponement and/or relocation of this Championships might be considered if the circumstances would allow so in due time.”

South Korea is one of short-track speedskating’s traditional powers. Last year, the country dominated the world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, winning both relays and taking gold in all of the men’s individual races. South Korea also led the medal count on home ice in the 2018 Olympics.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the cancellation of many events in China, where the illness was first found. The world indoor track and field championships were pushed back a whole year.

With the virus spreading to other regions, other countries’ sports schedules are being affected. Several soccer games are proceeding in empty stadiums in Italy and Iran.

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Daniel Romanchuk’s ascent to marathon stardom accelerated at University of Illinois

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The rise of Daniel Romanchuk has been one of the major stories of this Paralympic cycle. The wheelchair racer was eliminated in the first round of all five of his races in Rio.

But now, he’s the world’s best marathoner with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, a world-record holder on the track and already qualified for the Tokyo Games.

Romanchuk, born with spina bifida, was profiled by NBC Sports Chicago as part of a series of NBC Sports Regional Networks pieces published this week — marking 150 days until the Tokyo Olympics and six months until the Tokyo Paralympics.

NBC RSN Olympic and Paralympic Profiles
NBC Sports Bay Area

Abbey Weitzeil (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Boston
Margaret Bertasi (Rowing) — LINK
Abbey D’Agostino Cooper (Track and Field) — LINK

NBC Sports Chicago
Ryan Murphy (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Northwest
Galen Rupp (Marathon) — LINK
Mariel Zagunis (Fencing) — LINK

NBC Sports Philadelphia
Vashti Cunningham (Track and Field) — LINK
Julie Ertz (Soccer) — LINK

NBC Sports Washington
Katie Ledecky (Swimming) — LINK
Kyle Snyder (Wrestling) — LINK

Romanchuk, 21, swept the Boston, London, Chicago and New York City Marathon titles in 2019. He attributes that success to his native Baltimore and his training residence of the University of Illinois.

At age 2, he was enrolled in Baltimore’s Bennett Blazers, an adaptive sports program for children with physical disabilities. Tatyana McFadden, a 17-time Paralympic medalist who dominated women’s wheelchair marathons, planted her athletic roots there.

“Their motto is to teach kids they can before they’re told they can’t,” Romanchuk said.

Things really blossomed for Romanchuk after he moved from Baltimore to the University of Illinois. Illinois was designated a U.S. Paralympic training site in 2014 and has produced McFadden, Jean Driscoll and other U.S. Paralympic stars.

“Without this program, I certainly would not be where I am,” Romanchuk said. “It’s a very unique combination of coaching and teammates.”

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MORE: Ten Paralympic hopefuls to watch for 2020 Tokyo Games