Ice Network

Gold's transition to artist remains work in progress

Trophée Eric Bompard debutant determined to shake 'ice princess' label
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Gracie Gold hopes that her programs this season will help to bring out the artist in her. -Getty Images

Gracie Gold arrived at 2015 Trophée Eric Bompard with a clear goal and two beautiful programs, which are departures for her from past seasons. She took the time to talk with icenetwork about the way she sees herself improving not only as an athlete but also as an artist.

Icenetwork: What are your ambitions coming to Bordeaux?

Gold: My first concern is definitely to skate well here. I want to go to Barcelona (for the Grand Prix Final). It will depend on how well I skate here, and also on the placements of the other girls in the two following weeks.

Icenetwork: This "Firebird" you chose for your free program is quite special. How did you get the idea?

Gold: Lori [Nichol] (her choreographer) had a few ideas but nothing that really thrilled me. When we started working on the short program, we were just doing some choreography and then she looked at me and I saw she had come up with an idea. She did not say anything then, but the next day she played "Firebird." I could see that she was a little nervous to see the way I would react to it. I loved it right away.

Then she worked on it, and it was incredible; she has all these different recordings around her. We have about 18 cuts on it!

I knew the general story of "Firebird." Lori gave me some books to read, explaining the different versions. Her story, however, is always the same. It shows the different sides of my skating.

Icenetwork: What do you mean?

Gold: When I did Sleeping Beauty in 2013-14, people thought it was very nice to watch, but they also thought I was a cold and unfriendly person. Some media suggested that I looked mean. Then, each time I would meet a journalist, he would tell me, "It's so nice to meet you. We thought you were a cold person!" They used to talk about me as the "ice princess." Someone came up with an image to explain the idea: It's like watching a screensaver on your computer instead of a movie. It's something nice to watch, but it does not move you. I thought that was an interesting image.

Icenetwork: And yet you are so generous in your skating! You give it all! Are you the same way off the ice?

Gold: I think so. Things like compassion, generosity and, above all, kindness are values my mom has always tried to pass on to us. They are far more important than anything. You never regret being kind or generous or compassionate.

I think you're right: An artist at the very root is generous. They have something they want to show the world. It's not just ego.

Icenetwork: How would you like people to see you now?

Gold: With the pieces we chose for this "Firebird" program, I'd like to bring the crowd into it. I'd like people to feel an energy, a kind of electricity. "Firebird" is well choreographed, and that makes it a very interesting program.

It should keep people on their toes. I'd like the last spin to drive the audience to a standing ovation.

I want to be perceived as interesting and unique, not only intelligent and insightful. Actually, I don't want to be put in a box! Labeling me as an "ice princess" means that I should conform to it. It's sterilizing!

Icenetwork: What are the key points you work on at this stage in your career?

Gold: The big thing is my level of consistency and how I perform. This year is going much smoother. It's been pretty steady so far (apart from the Japan Open in October, where Gold finished sixth in a six-person field). During each run-through of my program, I'm learning to put the right weight on every single element, right from the beginning of the program. It's not only a matter of landing jumps.

The notion behind is this: If I were at worlds, what would I do? How would I skate? I'd go full out, for sure!

It would be easy to go through run-throughs unfazed, with only jumps. But each element is in fact equally as important. This is how I'm approaching my training. I'm not training any less; it's the way I train. How would I want to spend my training time if I had only five months to go in my career? Or if I were at the Olympics?

It's a different mindset.

Icenetwork: What is so impressive is how precise you are in your way of skating -- in your edges, in your movements, in your positions. Is this something you work on specifically?

Gold: In my life, too, I'm a very precise person. My docs are organized, I like to organize my hotel room -- everything has to be in place. It's the same in skating. It almost crushes you; trying to be so perfect makes you more stiff. You need to be more free. Natural performers need to be more free. For me, I must say it has worked to my advantage so far. In sport, it is an advantage.

Icenetwork: Is it not consistent with the image you were describing just before, though?

Gold: True. When I skated at the Olympics, my programs were so rehearsed. What I need is to find the right balance between being more rehearsed and being fully in it, with feelings and personality. That's why I'm training this way now.

Icenetwork: How do you feel coming to France?

Gold: This is my first time in France! I'm mostly excited because I've never had a chance to go to Western Europe before. I've had opportunities to go to some Eastern European countries. I've been to Oberstdorf, in Germany (for a skating competition), but it's a village. I've never been to France or England or Ireland or Finland. I miss that. This year and the following, I'll have several opportunities to discover these countries.

France is very chic. Paris is the city of romance and love and good food. What I'd love to have is a real French macaron. European coffee is so incredible!

Also, I like fashion. I like black, I like white, and I like stripes -- that's all I have in my wardrobe. In California, the weather is always warm. When you need a cardigan at night, you'll say it's cold. So I just never have a chance to wear the sweaters and boots and jackets and scarves that pile up in my wardrobe!

Icenetwork: How do you relate to culture and the arts?

Gold: Tomorrow we are going to the museum with my mom, after the short program is over. I love photography. I'm currently enrolled as a part-time student in college, and I take some classes on photography. Bordeaux is a beautiful city, with great architecture that gives great photos. People here are incredible subjects for photography.

Icenetwork: Do you think of yourself as an artist?

Gold: Dance and skating are arts. Since I've discovered photography, I'm starting to be an artist that way, too...a beginner artist, of course! It's something I love. I first think of myself as an athlete more than an artist. But it's growing in me. It's a work in progress.