2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships: Gracie Gold Returns

2020 Toyota U.S. Figure Skating Championships Gracie Gold
Image by U.S. Figure Skating
As of this writing, it has been a week since it happened, and I still cannot stop thinking about it. Gracie Gold has won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships -- twice. When she came to the 2020 Toyota U.S. Figure Skating Championships, it had been three years since Gold had participated in the competition.

She has taken her time to recover and focus on her mental health in recent years. As she made her way onto the ice in Greensboro, an outpouring of positive energy filled the arena. As someone who has followed Gracie Gold’s career since her senior debut in 2012, it was simply wonderful to see her back in action.

To witness her on skates again was a victory in and of itself. Gracie Gold's decision to return to competition and earn her way to the 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships can only be described as inspiring. She did not have to do it, and yet, she did.

The respect I felt for her as an athlete was only further cemented after witnessing her free program performance in person at the 2020 U.S. Championships. It is a skate that I will always remember and cherish. Gracie Gold gave the audience a gift. Greensboro and the world that watched via a screen got to see the heart of an Olympic athlete.

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As Gracie Gold came onto the ice, you could feel the audience’s energy rise. It seemed that almost everyone had an idea of what it had taken for Gold to make her return. Everything that she had overcome to skate at the 2020 U.S. Championships.

As she made her way to center ice, all of the articles, interviews, and past performances that Gracie Gold had given over the years flooded my mind. Here she was. The chance to see this determined athlete perform in-person in front of thousands of people. Tears immediately came to my eyes and remained there the entire time.

The lyrics to Gracie Gold’s perfectly selected free program music (Sara Bareilles’ “She Used to Be Mine”) told the story. Every line in that song comes across as equally custom-designed to suit her as Gold’s impeccable costumes always have. She performed at the 2020 U.S. Championships in a way I had never seen her do before.

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Gracie Gold told a story. Her story. It was beautiful, self-reflective, poignant, and moving beyond words. What Gold did is what figure skating is all about. You come for skating and stay for the skater. Gold shared her emotional journey in a way that captivated and commanded the ice at the 2020 U.S. Championships.

She was not Igor Stravinsky's “Firebird” as she had been during the 2015-2016 season. Fans will recall that Gracie Gold won her second national title following her free program to the figure skating favorite. At the 2020 U.S. Championships, Gracie Gold was Gracie Gold, and it was phenomenal to see her skate and story-tell. I have never been more moved watching the sport.

As a fan of figure skating, moments such as hers are the ones I watch to see. Throughout Gracie Gold’s performance at the 2020 U.S. Championships, the audience cheered at every jump she landed. In that moment, everyone was united in the same sentiment. They were wishing for her success and cheering on the triumph of Gold's incredible spirit.

It was with that same enthusiasm that they rose from their seats to give Gracie Gold a well-deserved standing ovation. For those standing next to me, I knew there were many reasons we had risen. For me, it was a sense of overpowering respect for what Gold had just done. Watch it here:

How much work and tenacity it had taken to even be at the 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships is impossible to imagine or contemplate. That Gracie Gold was even there was a marvelous accomplishment. It may be overused to say regarding her name. However, the moment this Olympic figure skater gave Greensboro was golden.

[Featured Image by U.S. Figure Skating]