Olympic figure skater Gracie Gold ‘can’t wait to go back to the Games’
Olympic figure skater Gracie Gold is as comfortable on the ice, perfecting triple jumps, as she is sitting in the stands as a fan or on a folding chair in a ballet room talking about her life.
Gold trains here at the Toyota Sports Center, her home away from her Redondo Beach, California, home. When she’s not spending countless hours training under legendary coach Frank Carroll, she puts on her new reporter hat and often watches Kings practices.
Gold is taking a sports broadcasting class at Santa Monica College, and she’s settled on homework assignments covering the two-time Stanley Cup champions. She takes notes, admires Jonathan Quick’s goaltending skills and does live reports as she learns the ropes of broadcasting and intricacies of hockey.
"I never thought of it growing up, "’I want to be sport broadcaster,’" Gold said. "But going through this (figure skating) journey I’ve seen so many people with so many unique jobs. There’s so many opportunities out there when I’m done skating. There’s a place in the world for me. Could it be sports broadcasting? We’ll see."
Gold already has a place in the world as one of its best figure skaters. On Sunday, she’ll be honored as the Sportswoman of the Year at the L.A. Sports Awards, an honor given to her by the L.A. Sports Council. The event, which also will honor Doc Rivers as the coach of the year, will be at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw were named co-Sportsmen of the Year after both were named MVPs in Major League Baseball. Gold is becoming more acquainted with baseball and fellow honorees.
"I know the name Mike Trout," Gold said. "I don’t know that many names in other sports, but of course, he’s one of the names I know. It’s really cool. I feel they’ve accomplished so much. I know I have too, but they have such a rich legacy and I still feel I’m building mine. To be named among them is really cool and special."
At 19, she’s already a U.S. National champion (2014) and Olympic medalist in Sochi. She finished fourth in the 2014 Olympics in the ladies’ figure skating event. She helped the U.S. win a bronze medal in the team event.
Gold grew up in the Midwest, but she’s embraced Los Angeles, where she and her family — including her twin sister, Carly — moved so she could train with Carroll. She loves driving through Los Angeles and experiencing different areas like Koreatown and Little Bangladesh. And shopping downtown, too.
"I think I was meant to live in L.A. My mom was born in Southern California," Gold said. "As soon as we moved out here. I just felt good about everything. I started training at the Toyota Sports Center with Frank. Everything just fell into place. I feel like I was supposed to be born here."
Her star was born at the Olympics. Gold was the epitome of grace when she finished just outside the medals in her individual event. While some Olympians express displeasure and disgust with scowls and frowns, Gold’s smile and bubbly personality were refreshing.
"I guess I just went into the Olympics with almost no expectations as far as results," Gold said. "Just knowing I wanted to skate well, not just for my country but myself. I wanted to have a great skate and be at the Olympics and skate with the best.
"To come in second of my segment of the team event, and we got third place for USA, was crazy. I still can’t wrap my mind around it. It was almost so big I couldn’t process it. To come in fourth after short and fourth in long, some people think it’s disappointing you didn’t medal, but I didn’t have any expectations going in. I just wanted to skate well. So to skate well and place that high in my first Olympics, that was great."
Her personality stole the hearts of the nation, and landed Gold endorsement deals with Visa, United Airlines and Smuckers among others.
That’s why it was so funny when, on a United flight, she ordered something with her credit card and the flight attendant said her name was almost like that figure skater Tracie Gold who won a gold medal at the Olympics.
Gold played along, except to tell her that she believed the fictitious skater won a bronze team medal.
She lives a relatively anonymous life, except when she’s hanging out with new pal Taylor Swift.
Swift tweeted a question about Gold to her 54 million Twitter followers and a star-studded friendship began.
"It sounds so easy, I guess," Gold said. "She tweeted a screen shot of her Googling, ‘When does Gracie Gold skate again?’ She wrote a really nice caption. I saw it and freaked out."
They started direct messaging and texting and eventually two had dinner in Los Angeles. That led to a dinner in New York, and afterward they went to Swift’s house to bake cookies. They shared chocolate chip cookie recipes. Swift uses chocolate chunks with sea salt, and Gold blends white chocolate and dark chocolate chips.
Who wouldn’t want to bake in that kitchen?
Though her famous friends have launched Gold into the spotlight, snapped by paparazzi as she, Swift and singer Lorde and friends made a day trip to Catalina.
And when Gold returned to the ice Jan. 1 after suffering a stress fracture in her left foot, she posted a picture on her Instagram account of her skating flawless jumps to Swift’s song "Shake it Off," causing a frenzy both among her skating fan base and Swift’s fans.
Not even three weeks after she came back from injury, she competed in the U.S. Nationals — which she won the year before — and finished second.
She didn’t need to shake off that performance. She was thrilled to perform so well so soon after her return.
And to continue to hang out with Swift.
"She’s one of those people that’s so famous when you see them in real life it’s almost strange," Gold said. "Her face is so familiar. You’ve seen photos and videos. I’d gone to her concert, Red. To see her in real life and baking cookies is fun. She’s so nice. So real. So sweet.
"She’s just so famous right now I feel anything she does has a full People magazine devoted to it. The fact I’m kind of in the mix is kind of cool. She lives a completely different famous lifestyle."
Gold holds her own in that department. She’s been on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and is a rock star at any ice skating complex she visits. She’s still 18 months from her 21st birthday, so she’s saving a bottle of wine Leno gave her for that celebration.
She’s getting ready for the ISU World Championships in Shanghai later this month and is three years out from the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
"Everybody watches the Olympics, that’s something I found out," Gold said. "I never fully appreciated that everybody did. I’m a skater, so I watch the Olympics. Almost everybody knows a figure skater and watches the Olympics. There’s something about it. To come back was a great experience. To think about doing it again in 2018 is really exciting. It doesn’t make me nervous yet. I can’t wait to go back to the Games."
And to represent Los Angeles on Sunday. That’s cool, too.