Gracie Gold Was Almost Perfect Today

But she needed to be totally perfect to win this year’s Women’s Figure Skating competition in Sochi. Gold took fourth.

Gracie Gold training in Vernon Hills, Illinois, in 2011.   Photo: Chris Walker/ Chicago Tribune

It is the blessing and curse that comes with the last name “Gold,”—along with expectations as high as the Willis Tower.

Gracie Gold came into the Sochi Olympics as one of the favorites to leave as champion. With a strong short program performance yesterday, she still had a chance.

Then today, Gold, 18, in her first Olympic competition, skated mostly flawlessly. She was perfect except for a fall on a single jump—a jump she usually easily lands. Her performance landed her in fourth place.

It was the world’s other skaters, with less glittery names, but slightly more perfect performances, who shined brighter. The gold, in a stunning upset, went to Adelina Sotnikova, a 17-year-old Russian skater with the backing of an entire arena (and, it must be said, the judges). Coming into this contest, Sotnikova was not even expected to be on the podium. She walked away with the first-ever individual Olympic gold for a Russian female figure skater.

Though Gold didn’t win a medal, she had nothing to be ashamed of. She skated a strong, if slightly tight, program. Unfortunately, to win, she had to skate perfectly, a task made even more difficult by the fact that she followed Sotnikova—who thrilled the audience, even as she stunned the handicappers by beating the heavy favorite, Korean Yuna Kim.

Gold, The 2014 U.S. National champion, trained for a time in Springfield before moving to the Chicago area to work with Alex Ouriashev. In September, Gold moved to Los Angeles to train with Frank Carroll, one of the sport’s giants.

Today, the training paid off as she started out beautifully, and solidly, easily landing a triple lutz, triple toe loop combination, one of the most technically difficult jumping passes in the women’s competition. She tightened up, however, as the program went on. And in the end, the one fall was enough to knock her from the podium.

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