BY GRACIE GOLD
In a few weeks, I will fly to Boston for the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships. It seems fitting that this very important competition will be held back where it all started for me. A little more than 18 years ago, I was born at the Newton-Wellesley Hospital and lived in the Boston suburbs until I was 5. My first ice skating experiences were actually on the frozen marshes by our house in Easton, Mass.
This season has been filled with unexpected twists and turns. Change is always stressful, even when it's for the better. I've needed to adapt and compensate with each new challenge. I believe I am a stronger person and will become a better competitor because of this.
My grand prix season was decent. It wasn't everything I'd hoped for, but it was a great experience for me. My short program at Skate Canada was strong and I scored a personal best for that segment. I was pretty disappointed not to qualify for the Grand Prix Final, but that actually provided another opportunity for me. When I got back to L.A. from Japan, Frank had a proposal. Not making the final would provide me with enough time to get a new short program. He had already spoken with Lori Nichol and they had some great ideas for me. I was hesitant, initially. It seemed drastic to change my program so close to the U.S. championships. But, thinking it over, I could see that it might be a good decision. As cool and edgy as my “Three Preludes” program was, it was a very difficult program to successfully execute. I decided to seize the opportunity and see what happened.
Working with Lori Nichol was a great experience. She truly IS remarkable! I really didn’t know what to expect when I got there, but I needn't have worried. Lori had everything set up for me. My new short is to Grieg's “Piano Concerto,” and I absolutely love it! It's incredibly beautiful and emotional music and I feel beautiful when I skate to it. I can't wait to perform it in Boston.
The Winter Games are almost here. Excitement is building and the pressure is mounting. There's no way around it. "Olympics" is a big word, and it's everywhere I go and comes up in daily conversations. Part of my preparation going into this competition is figuring out how to balance this Olympic fervor with the focus and concentration I need to perform well. I know that the future depends on what I do in the present. When I feel myself becoming overwhelmed, it's helpful for me to direct my thoughts back to the process. I remind myself that all I need to do is what I do every day in practice, nothing more.
I have had extraordinary gifts and opportunities this season. So many people have reached out to me and helped me. I have traveled to exotic places, met fascinating people, had photo shoots and television interviews. These are things I'll remember my whole life and I am truly grateful!