Gracie Gold helps the US lock up the bronze medal in team skating before the final event of the competition.
Gracie Gold never participated in team sports when she was growing up, because she hated having other people rely on her. But she went out on behalf of the U.S. team on Sunday and skated the best long program of her life, nailing all 11 jumps and scoring a career-best international mark of 129.36 — second only to the Russian jumping bean, Yulia Lipnitskaya.
Thanks to Gracie Gold’s performace of a lifetime, the U.S. is able to earn a bronze medal in the inaugural team skating event. Russia wins gold while the silver medal goes to Canada.
Gold's impressive performance clinched the bronze medal for the Americans in this inaugural figure skating team event, behind Russia and Canada. It also established the Chicago native as a real medal threat when the women's competition starts in nine days. "I think I'm getting my stride," Gold said. "I'm thrilled, definitely relieved. Each experience I learn something more about myself. Someone named Gold has never won gold, I'm told."
Gold has clearly become a more mature, flowing skater under the tutelage of Frank Carroll, a classical master. The only thing she does that still annoys the coach is her fist pump at the end of each successful routine. Carroll felt it was important for Gold to get this showcase in front of the international judges, who now respect her program more in preparation for next week.
She'll be back soon enough competing in the women's event near the end of the Games, where she will be a long shot for a medal in a packed field, including Russian 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia, who was the only skater to beat Gold on Sunday. But for now, she and her teammates had become Olympic medalists, a title they will carry with them for life.
"I would say that's everybody's dream," Gold said. "I was doing the program I was trained to do, and I'm thinking, 'I'm looking at the Olympic rings and Sochi.' It has been the best year of my life, hands down." "Not everyone on Team USA had their best performance," she said, "and so Ashley and I knew we really had to bring our A-game. And so far, so good. But Jason (Brown, Sunday's men's long program skater) and I were definitely a little nervous. Our parents told us that neither of us did team sports because we didn't like having other people rely on us but also having that extra pressure. So I'm really glad that Jason and I both skated well. And I can't believe that just happened."
Gold, the recently crowned American women's champion, an 18-year-old with a puncher's fight combined with an easy smile, made her Olympic debut Sunday in the team event. Even if she couldn't overcome the silky superiority of Russia's 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya, who scored 141.51 points in her nearly perfect long program in the figure skating team competition, Gold made her debut with aplomb.
Also without a major mistake, Gold scored 129.38 and made a statement. The American women, who weren't given much chance of standing on the medal podium in the individual competition, might have two skaters with medal chances.
Gold played to character Sunday, skating a long program to the music of Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty. Her blonde hair was pulled into a perfect princess bun and her smile at the end of the program was that of the 18-year-old grown-up that she is.
Carroll, Gold's coach, told reporters in Sochi that she is, "Incredibly elegant. She has a beautiful face, a beautiful body and she's long and jumps high, almost as if she floats through the air. I believe she has the complete package."
The 18-year-old rising star Gold put on a virtually flawless performance in the team ladies' free skating event, as she recorded a final score of 129.38. That was good enough to finish second to Russia's phenom Julia Lipnitskaia.
Her nine-point performance was the best that the United States was able to manage in any singles competition throughout the team events. Those points turned out to be crucial, as Team USA came away with the bronze medal. Gold is extremely polished at such a young age. She is very technically sound and her jumps are consistently clean. In fact, during her performance in the team ladies' free skate, she nailed all 11 of her jumps.
@sagekotsenburg Good hangin with the queen of spoice on the oice @graceegold today!