Olympic Ice Skater Walks Away From Spotlight To Focus On Personal Health
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Health and Wellness

Olympic Ice Skater Walks Away From Spotlight To Focus On Personal Health

Strength in stepping back

Olympic Ice Skater Walks Away From Spotlight To Focus On Personal Health

Life in any spotlight can be taxing on a person, especially in the athletic arena. When people think of ice skating they usually picture the pretty girls with the sparkly dresses and the impressive jumps. What they don't see is the many hardships behind the sport. They don't see physical effects this intensive training has on your body or the emotional effects it can have on your mind.

Gracie Gold was America's ice skating sweetheart during the 2013-2014 season and at the Olympics held in Sochi, Russia. Gold won her first US National Championship in 2014, with a record-breaking performance, and earned a spot on the US Olympic Team. During the games, she helped Team USA win a bronze medal in the team event and placed fourth in the ladies singles event.

The years following were a rollercoaster for Gold. At the 2015 National Championship, she placed second, after fighting to regain her title in the 2016 season, and she then faced an even tougher obstacle. The 2016 World Championship was held in Boston Massachusetts and hot off a national title, Gold was expected to win. With another record-breaking, first place skate in the short program, the pressure was too much and Gold dropped to sixth place in the free skate, finishing fourth overall. Gold's longtime opponent, Ashley Wagner placed second overall, effectively ending Gold's spotlight. After the events at Worlds, it seemed as though Gold could not get back to herself. At 2016 Skate America, similarly to what happened at Worlds, Gold had a strong short program but fell apart in the free skate. She claimed to be suffering from, "post-worlds summer depression." In an earlier interview, she stated that she had problems with her weight and that it had been something she was focusing on all season.

The 2017 National Championship was another blow to Gold, after placing 6th overall, she was left off the World Championship team for the first time since 2013. She also had a public falling out with her coach, Frank Carroll, following the competition. Leading into the 2017-2018 season, and an Olympic year, Gold was set to compete in four international competitions, she withdrew from all four. In early September she announced she was undergoing personal treatment for anxiety, depression, and an eating disorder.

Unfortunately, these types of struggles are not uncommon in the sport; what is refreshing, is openly talking about them. Gold confided in Team USA teammates, Ashley Wagner and Adam Rippon, who encouraged her to seek the treatment she needs, and still stand by her and her decision to put herself first. The bruises, the broken bones, the muscle aches that come with the sport are easier to spot and easier to treat. What most people do not know is how mentally taxing the sport is. There is serious pressure when months of hard work rely on one single performance. Also, the constant judgment of your ability, looks, and more, from coaches, officials, and other skaters can have a serious effect. Similarly, there is a stereotype of how all ice skaters are supposed to look; small, skinny, athletic, pretty. Gold was already taller than your average skater, thus not fitting into that norm.

While it is heartbreaking to see any person, famous athlete or not, struggle with these problems, hopefully, it will open the door for greater communication about the effect of sports on its competitors, and help all athletes who are in similar situations.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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