Gracie Gold‘s discombobulated season took another confusing turn at her most recent competition.
“It felt like I was surfing,” she said.
Gold, the 2014 U.S. champion and fourth-place finisher at the Sochi Olympics, finished fourth as the most accomplished skater in the field at the Four Continents Championships in Seoul in February.
She hopes to perform better at the World Championships next week in Shanghai, where she is one of three Americans looking to win the first U.S. women’s medal at Worlds since 2006.
“If I were to turn on my music at any time of the day, I would not skate as poorly as I did at Four Continents,” Gold said Monday. “I was just so nervous, and it just didn’t feel like me out there.”
Gold, who trains in Southern California, said she’s consistently skated clean long programs in practice daily, maybe with one mistake, since returning from Four Continents one month ago.
“Most things I’ve really learned about myself and about training is always after a bad competition, after a disappointment,” she said.
Gold pointed to an improper mindset at Four Continents, where she singled at least one jump in both of her programs.
“Possibly, I put too much expectation on myself and crumbled under my own pressure,” she said. “We were just so focused on, at least I was, about winning the competition and winning and winning and winning that I kind of got lost in that and I forgot what the most important part is, which is about buckling down and just skating your program.”
The ups and, mostly, downs in the post-Olympic season have been plentiful. They started before the season, actually, as her prep was delayed due to a post-Olympic tour — her first extended period away from home. She also felt out of shape, switched skate blades and changed boot sizes.
“I’ve had a lot of trouble finding my rhythm,” she said. “I’ve kind of been all over the place this year. It hasn’t been my most consistent, by far.”
Gold managed to win her first Grand Prix Series title at NHK Trophy in November but then came home to find she had a stress fracture in her left foot.
“My first major injury,” she said.
Gold, with less than three weeks of jumping training after that injury, relinquished her U.S. title to Ashley Wagner in January.
Then in February, she had trouble sleeping in Seoul, was off in practice and nervous in warm-ups and was also affected by an hourlong bus ride from her hotel to the rink at Four Continents.
“I didn’t feel like I was in my own skates,” Gold said.
Gold called the defeat a blessing and counts on the “little glimmers of hope” she’s seen in her skating this season that prove she is a medal contender at Worlds.
The confidence is still there. Gold even said she and coach Frank Carroll have talked about working on a triple Axel or quadruple Salchow, though not adding it in competition any time soon.
Russian Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who won the Grand Prix Final in December and European Championships in January, was recently seen in video landing a triple Axel. She’s the only elite active women’s skater performing the jump. It’s been a while since quads have been talked about in women’s competition.
“That’s something I’ve always been awe of,” Gold said of Tuktamysheva’s triple Axel. “I’m looking forward, hopefully in the next Olympic cycle, we’ll see even more triple Axels being tried and maybe even some quads by ladies. I think that it’s very doable.”