Skater Gracie Gold has comeback plans after long break from competition

Skater Gracie Gold has comeback plans after long break from competition

Gracie Gold is coming back to competitive figure skating after a lengthy absence from the sport to cope with eating disorders, anxiety and depression.

The two-time U.S. champion and 2014 Olympic bronze medalist in the team event received a berth to the Rostelecom Cup Grand Prix competition next November.

She has not competed since the January 2017 U.S. Championships.

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Wait for It: Stars on Ice shines brighter as show goes on, leaving you wanting more

Wait for It:  Stars on Ice shines brighter as show goes on, leaving you wanting more

The first half of Sunday’s Stars on Ice show at Allstate Arena in suburban Chicago felt like an interminable rock concert with skating as an incidental accompaniment to music blared at twice the necessary volume.

The decibels didn’t drop much in the second half.  But, despite a difficult two days of travel, the skaters amped themselves up after intermission with programs richer in choreography and polish.  Those performances thankfully dampened the music, putting the skaters at the center of the icy stage and allowing the visual to take the expected precedence over the aural.

By the penultimate star turn, with new world champion Nathan Chen doing “Nemesis,” his competitive short program this season, this was a show that clearly understood the maxim to always leave the audience wanting more.   As Stars finished with the entire cast - 13 U.S. Olympians - combining on “You Will Be Found” from “Dear Evan Hansen,” the two hours of entertainment had become more and more compelling.

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Comings, goings and questions as coach Rafael Arutunian looks to next season

Comings, goings and questions as coach Rafael Arutunian looks to next season

LAKEWOOD, Calif. -- In an upstairs locker room at Lakewood ICE, a skating facility with three rinks 21 miles south of Los Angeles, each dressing stall has a plate above it with the name of a figure skater or coach who regularly trains or teaches there.

On a recent afternoon early in what passes for the (brief) off-season in figure skating, odds and ends of clothing lay in the dressing stalls assigned to Team USA members Nathan Chen, Ashley Wagner, Adam Rippon and Mariah Bell. Michal Březina of the Czech Republic and Romain Ponsart of France have their fair share of personal belongings in the locker room as well, as do their coaches, Rafael Arutunian and Nadia Kanaeva.

Which of those skaters will be using the stalls next season remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: there definitely will be some new ones working with the only person who has coached U.S. singles skaters to World Championships medals since 2009 - Chen's gold last month and Wagner's silver in 2016.

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Bouquets, brickbats (and some of both): a 2018 Olympic figure skating scorecard

Bouquets, brickbats (and some of both): a 2018 Olympic figure skating scorecard

Lynn Rutherford and I checked in with our winners and losers from the figure skating competition at the recently completed 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Some of my winners:

Eteri Tutberidze

Although early records are incomplete, the coach of Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva is almost certainly the first person to be by the boards for both the gold and silver medalists in an Olympic singles event.

Skate Canada

The best possible realistic scenario for the Canadians was two gold and two bronze medals, and that is exactly what their skaters won -- and they were on the podium in four of the five events. No other country medaled in more than two.

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Ashley Wagner's failure to make Olympic team rests on her

Ashley Wagner's failure to make Olympic team rests on her

Ashley Wagner has gone through this Olympic season as the face (and other body parts) of U.S. women's skating: the one in all the NBC telecast promotions; the one in the ESPN the Magazine's Body Issue, People magazine and commercials for major sponsors; the one entertaining her 174,000 Instagram followers day after day.

But she almost certainly will be invisible during next month's Olympic Winter Games, having failed to make the U.S. team after finishing fourth overall at the U.S. championships Friday night, railing at judging she felt was unfair and saying unequivocally that she deserved one of the three ladies spots.

"I am absolutely furious," she said.

Those who would rip Wagner for speaking her mind are definitely unfair -- and have paid no attention to her refreshing candor over an 11-season senior career as one of the country's leading skaters and most worldly athletes. What she tweeted Saturday was the best answer to that criticism.

"As an athlete, I'm allowed to be mad," she wrote. "As a senior competitor with over 10 years of experience, I'm allowed to question things."

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