MOSCOW (AP) — Gracie Gold started her journey to get back to the top of figure skating on Friday, and there’s a long way to go.
Skating competitively for the first time in nearly two years after a break to treat depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder, Gold struggled with nerves as she finished 10th and last in the short program at the Moscow round of the Grand Prix.
Building from “rock bottom,” she had to prove to herself she could skate again.
“The expectation wasn’t to come here and set the world on fire. I just needed to compete,” the U.S. skater said. “On-brand for my personality is to go to one of the hardest Grands Prix in Moscow to do it, not at some tiny competition. The goal was just to show up and try to be brave.”
Gold’s skate included a fall and some jumps far below other skaters’ difficulty level. “We just had to start with something, even if it was trash,” she said. “This is six months out of rock bottom so we’ll just go from there.”
Gold’s closest brush with a major title was also a factor in the mental health struggles which eventually led her to spend time in a treatment facility. Gold led the 2016 world championship after the short program, but a poor free skate dropped her down to fourth.
She was also fourth at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and 2015 worlds. She won a bronze in the Olympic team event.
At times, Gold wasn’t sure she would skate competitively again, but a foray into coaching got her thinking “like maybe my career ended too early.”
Watching the Winter Olympics from home in February, she entertained fans with funny and sometimes biting Twitter comments. Gold resumed training in April, but she’s had to relearn the basics.
“I was trying to think why I was so nervous. You say it’s been a while,” she said, “but I’ve never gone into a big Grand Prix event where I was so, frankly, not trained.”
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