The way Gracie Gold explains it, she was set up on a blind date while attending the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
“I was up in the stands just watching, just a mess,” said Gold, who took that Olympic season off to treat depression, anxiety and an eating disorder.
She was invited to watch the junior women’s free skate from backstage, where athletes meet their coaches after performing.
“They’re probably trying to make me feel important because I had a case of the sads,” said Gold, who was making her first public appearance at a skating event in a year. “It occurred to me later that this was a set up.”
A backstage group convinced her to swap phone numbers with Frenchman Vincent Restencourt, a former world junior medalist turned coach. Gold had begun to dabble in coaching herself. Restencourt offered her a weeklong gig at his rink.
“I’ll just fly somewhere for a week, make some money, just get out in the world,” Gold said. “Remember, I fell off the face of the earth for quite a while.”
But when she got to IceWorks in Aston, Pa., another group convinced her to relocate there from Arizona. Not to coach, but to skate again.
“If you looked at me, it was a joke,” Gold said. “No one was going to look at me and be like, ‘Oh my god, you still have so much potential.’ I had a brown bob cut. I had my nose pierced.
“I was like, it’s probably not possible. And they were like, ‘But don’t you want to say that you tried?’”
Gold was convinced that, at the very least, she should get into skating shape to participate in shows and make some money.
“It was super easy for me to say yes to another opportunity,” Gold said. She flew back to Arizona, packed and was in Pennsylvania two weeks later.
Her new students ranged from 3 years old to adults. She also started training under Restencourt.
“Sometimes they treat me like I’m a little bit fragile or like I might melt down at any point,” she said. “But better to be safe than sorry after what happened.”
Gold’s only competition of the 2018-19 season was the Rostelecom Cup stop in Russia for the Grand Prix Series. She finished 10th out of 10 skaters in the short program due to a fall on a triple flip and a popped Axel and ultimately withdrew before the free skate.
“The goal was just to show up and try to be brave,” she told media at the time.
She also skipped the 2019 national championships; instead, she gave a detailed and personal interview that week to the New York Times. Gold said she hasn’t ruled out competing this summer or fall.
“We check in every little bit like, ‘how are we thinking this is going?’ And then we’re both like, ‘Eh, we need more work.’”
That conversation happened in February, though a similar one took place days before our interview with Gold.
“We were just like, ‘we’ll compete again when we’re ready,’” she said, adding, “a lot of it’s my own issues. I’m sure I could compete a program with a couple triples in it.”
At first, gearing up for Gold’s ultimately abbreviated 2018-19 season, the team wanted to fix everything at once: jumps, spins, basic technique. That frazzled her. Now the focus is on physical fitness and athletic ability.
“That’s where we’re starting – not even figure skating shape,” Gold said. “When you’re in athletic shape, then you feel like you can be less embarrassed to go ice skating, then we can ice skate more. Then we can jump more, and spin more and train more. And then we can compete.”
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