In the biggest competition of her burgeoning career, U.S. figure skater Gracie Gold left no doubt that she earned her spot on the Olympic team this weekend.
Gold, 18, won her first title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston on Saturday, finishing 18 points ahead of Polina Edmunds with a total of 211.69 points. That performance proved she's a serious threat to live up to her last name in Sochi.
“I was on top of the world,’’ Gold told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Tuesday. “I’m still on cloud nine. I was so proud of how I skated and I was able to earn my spot to Sochi. It’s a lot to take in that I’m going to Sochi, (and) that I just made the Olympics. At 18, I’m fulfilling my biggest life goal thus far.”
Gold, who was born in Newton, Mass., has been skating since, at age 8, she first stepped on a rink at a friend’s birthday party. Her twin sister, Carly, also is a competitive figure skater.
She moved from her home in the Midwest, where she trained in Michigan, to southern California to train with coach Frank Carroll, who also coached 2010 Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek and one of Gold’s idols, Michelle Kwan.
“I felt really well trained going into nationals,’’ Gold said. “I’m not going to say that I wasn’t nervous or I didn’t feel the pressure or I wasn’t worried, but I just had to trust my training and listen to my coach Frank and just skate like I know how to.”
While Gold and Edmunds easily solidified their spots on the Olympic team, there has been controversy over the third selection. Two-time national champion Ashley Wagner, who finished fourth at last weekend’s nationals, was chosen by the U.S. Figure Skating selection committee over third-place finisher Mirai Nagasu, who finished fourth at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Wagner’s overall body of work during the past three years was considered stronger than Nagasu’s performances in the committee’s eyes.
“I really wish that we had four or five spots going to Sochi,’’ Gold said. “It’s so hard just to have three. The ladies' field in the U.S. is so deep, and they’re all wonderful skaters. There wasn’t a dry eye in the audience (at the nationals). I’m really good friends with Ashley and Mirai and so we talked and we hugged and we cried, and it’s been a long journey for everybody.”