Gracie Gold had the unenviable position of skating immediately after Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova, who brought down the house at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
“It was tough; no one wants to go when they announce your name and it’s silent,” Gold said.
But Gold went out and made some noise of her own Thursday. She finished fourth, with Ashley Wagner seventh and Polina Edmunds ninth in their first Olympic Games.
Gold matched the fourth-place finish of Mirai Nagasu in Vancouver in 2010.
“I felt like I had a shot at a medal,” said Gold, who was fourth after the short program, “but being six points behind the women and knowing that they had skated really well, I sort of let go of all of those expectations of getting a medal and I just skated for myself. And I just skated the best program I could.
“I pretty much knew I was going to come in fourth, but then I said, ‘I’m fourth at the Olympic Games. What are you talking about? Why is that disappointing?’”
Sotnikova won the first gold for Russia in women’s singles with a total score of 224.59 points, while defending champion Yuna Kim of Korea was second (219.11) and 2012 world champion Carolina Kostner of Italy was third (216.73).
Skating to “The Sleeping Beauty” by Tchaikovsky, Gold hit her triple Lutz/triple toe combination, double Axel/triple toe combination and then landed a triple loop. She was going strong when she fell on her triple flip.
“When I went down on it, I thought, ‘Dang it!’ That’s what Frank (Carroll, her coach) told me not to do: ‘Don’t drop that right arm,’” said Gold, who scored 136.90 on her free skate to finish with a total score of 205.53. “I went down on the triple flip, but at the end of the day, skating these three programs at the Olympics was wonderful.”
Gold and Wagner were among the Team USA skaters who captured the bronze medal in the first Olympic team event on Feb. 9. Gold performed her free skate in the team event.
Gold, 18, who won her first national title in January, said skating in Sochi has been “such an amazing opportunity. And the Olympics are crazy and they’re rocking. It’s a time when all the athletes can together and I really would love to be on the 2018 team.”
Carroll, who coached Evan Lysacek to gold in Vancouver, said she is “a real talent. And gorgeous. She looks like Grace Kelly, which is nice. I try to get her to cash in on it. Smile. She has those classic looks. And in this sport, you take advantage of everything you’ve got.”
Wagner scored 127.99 points Thursday to finish with 193.20 points.
“I thought for my first showing with that program to come home with a personal best, that is proof to me that I made the right decision to change my program last minute,” Wagner said. “I feel like I really delivered.
“I was so, so, so happy with that performance.”
Wagner skated the short program in the team event and she was skating her best of the season.
“I think I’m starting to lay the ground work for myself to be one of the top competitors over the next four years,” Wagner said.
“I’ve come from a bawling, scared, 22-year-old girl, to a tough, proud, happy woman coming home to the U.S. with a bronze medal and three clean performances.”
Edmunds, 15, was in seventh place after the short program, but fell on a triple flip. “I missed an element and that wasn’t fun,” said Edmunds, who scored 122.21 points to finish with 183.25 points. “Of course, I would have liked to have done a clean skate, but I’m happy with the way I came back.”
She also has her sights on Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018. “That’s four years from now,” she said, “and I know I have to keep building up my strength.”