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.

Read More

To icenetwork, hail and farewell - and thanks

To icenetwork, hail and farewell - and thanks

I had covered figure skating for 35 years – and, to that point, at 10 straight Winter Olympics - when I took a generous buyout in November 2015 from the Chicago Tribune because the paper’s management decided it no longer could afford to support the travel necessary for me to cover international sports the way I had for three decades.  The time was right for me to make that move, and I have nothing but gratitude for the Tribune’s having allowed me to make international sports and the Olympics my news beat.

But I hoped to continue getting paid for covering figure skating at least through the 2018 Winter Olympics.  I am forever grateful that, beginning in 2016, icenetwork provided me the chance to it, and I am disappointed that this figure skating web site will soon be no more.

Read More

On Karen Chen's first Olympics and Frank Carroll's last

On Karen Chen's first Olympics and Frank Carroll's last

Frank Carroll's 12th and final Olympics as a coach ended a day earlier than expected.

Although the premature finish owed to the misfortune of his last Olympic student, Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, it turned out to be advantageous for Carroll, 79, who left for home in Southern California on Saturday, the day after Ten failed to qualify for the free skate.

"I'm sick as a dog," Carroll wrote in a text message Sunday, calling his illness "cold-like but getting worse."

Ten, the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist and two-time world medalist, placed 27th of 30 in Friday's short program. Only the top 24 made Saturday's free skate.

His poor performance was not a surprise, given the foot problems that have plagued Ten since the 2015-16 season and were exacerbated by a severe ankle injury suffered last August. Ten, 24, said Friday it was painful even to put on skating boots.

"It has been incredible," Carroll said of his Olympic coaching career.

Read More

Tennell lone bright spot for U.S. women singles skaters so far in Olympic season

Tennell lone bright spot for U.S. women singles skaters so far in Olympic season

There was a lot of relief and excitement early last April in Helsinki when World Championships rookie Karen Chen stood up to extra pressure in the free skate created after veteran Ashley Wagner choked (Wagner’s word, not mine).  Chen’s performance gave her fourth place and assured Team USA would have three women’s singles spots at the 2018 Olympics.

The way things look now, U.S. Figure Skating should politely offer that third spot to Japan, which lacked the talent to get three in Helsinki but is flush with top women now.

With the Grand Prix regular season having ended Sunday at Skate America in Lake Placid, N.Y., not one of the U.S. women who had been considered top contenders for the three spots – Chen, Wagner, Mariah Bell and Mirai Nagasu – has done much this fall to suggest she deserves it.

Read More

For Gracie Gold, hope that a step sideways will help her move forward

For Gracie Gold, hope that a step sideways will help her move forward

The first time I met Gracie Gold, in late fall of 2011 at a suburban Chicago rink, she allowed me a glimpse into her psyche after a previous season filled with disappointment.

“I had zero confidence in myself,” she said, refusing to use physical growth as an excuse for the inconsistent jumps that had kept her from qualifying for the 2011 U.S. Junior Championships.

By the time of our first conversation, after her eye-catching performances that season at both a Junior Grand Prix event in Estonia and Midwestern Sectionals, the skating world already was anointing Gold, then 16, as the sport’s next star.

The expectations would be enormous, especially for someone whose psyche always remained fragile.

She bore up to them remarkably well, winning two U.S. senior titles (with two second places), finishing a solid fourth at the 2014 Olympics (with a bronze medal in the team event) and fourth twice at senior worlds.  She built a résumé that would be the envy of nearly every little girl who puts on figure skates and dreams of such achievements.

Of her winning free skate at the 2016 U.S. Championships, I wrote:   "Her jumps were huge and secure, her poise complete, her skating to music from Stravinsky’s `Firebird' a performance that showed the polish of a mature, experienced athlete."  

Little did we know that such performances sometimes masked the truth, that she was a Pagliacci laughing for the crowd while crying inside.

Read More