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Gracie Gold Embraces a Rugged Comeback Path

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Gracie Gold Embraces a Rugged Comeback Path

The New York Times sports department is revisiting the topics of some interesting articles from last year. Here is our January report on Gracie Gold's mental health battle.

Gracie Gold is still on the ice, building a steady comeback in figure skating, one small victory at a time.

At 24, she has replaced the ambitions that made her Olympic in 2014 and, for a while, a favorite for gold in 2018. Now she is taking what she considers a healthier approach.

Gold's career was deflected by a mental illness that peaked in 2017 when she had to abandon her bid for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and enter an inpatient clinic in Arizona to treat an eating disorder, depression and anxiety.

Gold remembers this past year as a number eight. Her forward progression includes losing most of the extra 40 pounds she had added to her 1.5m frame and graduating from the jump harness system she needed at any given time to help her safely complete the revolutions. and landings that were once yours. forces.

"Yes, things could get better," Gold said in a telephone interview this month, "but look how far I've come."

She plans to be in 2020 United States National Championships in Greensboro, N.C. next month after following a humiliating route to qualify. Gold, who won the women's title in 2014 and 2016, looked ready to compete in the 2019 national championship but it's over Withdrawing after realizing his schedule was very ambitious.

When he began his comeback in late 2018, Gold spoke to the New York Times about the spiral that disrupted his career and changed his life. At the time, she was settling in a training venue outside Philadelphia, the last move in her peripatetic existence as a skater.

She traveled to Russia for her first competition in over a year and eventually withdrew after the first of her two programs. Shortly thereafter, his decision to leave the 2019 nationals triggered alarms that his career was over.

"The most expected is not to compete again," said Gold.

In order to continue, Gold knew it would have to start practically from scratch this year, re-establishing its eligibility for elite competition, going through lower-level qualifying events for the first time since 2011. Gold was like an acclaimed actor auditioning for minor roles. thought it was over.

"I was worried about what people would say or think," said Gold, who added, "I don't mean there were duplications, but there were eyes on me, for sure."

She advanced to the final qualifying round, the eastern sections in Hyannis, Massachusetts, needing a fourth place to secure her place in the 2020 nationals. Overcoming a case of nervousness, she finished third.

When she spoke to the Times a year ago, Gold was still accepting what she called "neurotic perfectionism" that had driven her rise, but also precipitated her decline. She held herself to exacting standards, and the harder she struggled to meet them, the worse she felt for herself.

Gold's challenge in moving forward is to stay rooted in the process and not focus on results.

"I feel that in the sport of skateboarding, the twists and turns don't happen much because going through the process and part of the ridicule that comes with it in the beginning is difficult," she said. "You are essentially being criticized by the judges, the fans, your coach and yourself. That can be a lot.

Gold still has bad days, but they are rarer. "And my ability to recover from one is faster," she said.

From the days when her life focused on winning an Olympic gold medal, Gold realized that she had more to offer the world. She enjoys having a positive impact on younger skaters during her classes between training sessions at IceWorks Skating Complex, a facility in the Philadelphia area where she began her return.

His far-reaching plans now include one day opening a mental health ward in the United States Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. This spring, Gold spoke about the issue as part of a panel at the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"I can always retire at any time and go back to school or work full time," Gold said, adding that skateboarding "is not the end of the world, as I used to feel it was."

However, your current goal is still to qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics – simply not at any cost, as in the past.

"My goal is to maintain my mental health and progress on ice," said Gold.

No matter how she behaves, Gold said she would be proud to continue the sport.

"I don't know that a lot of other skaters who know they are out of shape know that they don't look like a figure skater and they know this may not work well and still try it," Gold said. "There's some courage to it. Years ago, I would never be able to do that."

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