Being an individual in the public eye is hard enough as it is, but being an athlete in the public eye takes the pressure to a whole new level. Not only are you required to look and act the part, but your body must be in perfect shape at all times to be able to physically support the rigorous training you go through daily.
Over the years, many athletes have succumbed to the constant criticism and attack from reporters and fans commenting on their body or recent performance. Some develop eating disorders while others turn to drugs or alcohol to mask their feelings. For 22-year-old Gracie Gold, her health struggles are finally being addressed.
She continued with, “I will not have adequate training time to prepare and compete at the level that I want to. I would like to thank U.S. Figure Skating, my fans and my sponsors for their ongoing support. I also want to thank [coaches] Marina Zoueva and Oleg Epstein for standing beside me through this journey and most of all my family for their unconditional love.”
While her participation in the Grand Prix events will not be the only deciding factor in whether or not she will be named to a U.S. Olympic Team for the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, results and form in those competitions are taken under consideration.
She also opened up about her issues regarding weight: “You just don’t see overweight figure skaters for a reason,” she said. “It’s just something I’ve struggled with this whole year and in previous seasons. It’s just difficult when you’re trying to do the difficult triple jumps. It’s something that I am addressing, but it’s obviously not where it should be for this caliber of competition.”
Johnny Weir, who is now a skating commentator, said, “Being a skater, I understand where Gracie was coming from. To the masses, whenever you talk about diet and food and getting in shape physically, when you are an athlete on TV and you look like you are in shape compared to most of the country, it can be a little bit of a disconnect between the athletes appearing on TV and the audience.”
Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski also agreed that, “these are thoughts that every skater’s thinking about.”
She added, “You hope that, over time, you can start to look at the skaters that have been great champions and realize everyone has a different body type.”