Gracie Gold Taking Uncertain Break

After rough season, Gold announces she’s taking five months to seek “professional help”; only withdrawn from Japan Open so far.

At this time last year, despite her disappointment at the 2016 World Championships, Gracie Gold was, at the very least, one of the U.S.’s top two ladies, and the one with the most potential. One season of crashing and burning later, she’s just made an announcement that throws her entire Olympic season in doubt. But it’s not an easy one to parse.

Gold released a statement to USA Today, saying she will by “taking time off,” over the next five months to get “professional help,” but will still be “preparing” for her Grand Prix events in November. That would indicate she’s not leaving the ice for those entire five months. But she has withdrawn from her first event, the Japan Open, which may be because she’ll be training less in the immediate future, but also may be because she’s not up mentally for that.

It may also be, of course, that she simply hasn’t given up on making the Grand Prix yet. That would be very understandable. After last season, she probably does not want her next competition to be the U.S. Nationals that will determine who makes it to the Olympics. If not for the fact she has her team bronze from Sochi, she would’ve had to do them just to qualify for Nationals, though having a medal from the previous games should get her a bye if worst comes to worst.

Of course, at the moment, we can’t be sure she’ll be recovered enough even then. And losing valuable training time during the Olympic season is never a good thing. If Gold shows up at Nationals and skates well, she will more likely than not make the Olympics, simply because she’s that good. But her pulling that off is now in more doubt than ever. But after both the season and the summer she’s had, she may feel this course is the only way she’ll give herself a chance of making it.

Although Gold has talked publicly about the severe emotional fallout of 2016 Worlds and also struggling with her weight, for the moment she’s not having a full discussion about her mental health. One can hardly go after her for that, though, especially if it could potentially make her worse. Not that this has stopped plenty of people on the internet, especially her detractors, from doing so. Perhaps the most appropriate response to that is the one tweeted by ice dancer Joe Johnson:

And if Gold does have any serious mental health issues, she should probably be left alone to prioritize taking care of herself. Hopefully, if nothing else, she’ll be successful in her recovery.

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