Gracie Gold is a small town girl with a big figure skating career. Recently, the two-time figure skating champion and Olympian medalist has become a spokesperson for all things athletes and mental health.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Gracie during the 2022 Ice Dreams Tour to talk about what sparked her passion for ice dancing, her candid take on the ‘invisible’ and minimized issue of mental health, and why other athletes and public figures struggle to take breaks when they need them.
Gracie also shares some lesser-known, light-hearted facts about growing up in the small town where she learned to juggle and wasn’t always a ‘cool girl.’ She also lets us in on what she likes to do when she’s not on the ice.
Q: You were first introduced to skating as a kid at a birthday party. Do you remember what it was that made you want to become a figure skater?
A: “There were a few freestylers doing some spins [at the party]. Sometimes the center circle is reserved for freestylers if they want to practice, do spins, or try some jumps. And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool. I’d love to know how to do this sport further.’
So, I grabbed a flier for their ‘Learn to Skate’ program from the front desk and brought it home. I didn’t have any weekend activities at that point. So, I was like, ‘Hey, there’s Saturday morning, Learn to Skate.’ It just kind of snowballed from there and later my sister joined, too.
After the birthday party when I fell in love with [skating], I realized I was naturally talented in the sense that I was not afraid to fall, I wasn’t afraid to skate fast, and I was moderately comfortable. I mean, I was still all over the place as people that skate for the first time are, but I could get around the rink twice as fast as everyone.”
Q: Speaking of Carly, your twin sister, what’s it like to have a twin? Are you able to read each other’s minds?
A: “We definitely have some twinish moments, but it’s not like if Carly hits her knee, I get a bruise. It’s kind of like a built-in best friend, so to speak. I know a handful of twins and some that aren’t close. Carly and I don’t relate to that at all—I could not imagine. I mean, we did everything together for 21 years. So, to be uninvolved or to not like my twin is weird. We’re different, though. In pretty much anything, we’re either exactly the same or polar opposite. We either both like the same thing or we have very different opinions on it, so she’s not like a carbon copy of me.”
Q: As part of the Ice Dreams Tour, you and the other skating legends are spending time on the ice instructing children before your shows. What does it mean to you to be passing the torch to future generations?
A: “I think it’s really important. Sometimes when a show or seminar will blow through, you feel like you can’t connect with the kids and that you meet them, but you don’t really meet them. It’s, ‘Hi, I’m Gracie, nice to meet you,’ sign a picture, and that’s it.
Being able to work with the kids for a full hour before the show, be in the show with them, and then see them afterwards and go through the show process with them is really cool. It doesn’t always happen like that and it also makes it a more personable experience.”
Q: You’re someone who’s been very vocal about the importance of mental health. You showed a lot of courage when you took some time away from figure skating. We’re starting to see more elite athletes, movie stars, musicians, and people from all walks of life taking breaks to recharge. What advice do you have for anyone who feels like they need to take a break?
A: “Society has this thing where taking a break is indicative of weakness. If you’re not being productive all the time, you’re just not strong enough. I’m sure it’s related to capitalism and how the world works, but if you work 20 hours a day, at some point, you will not be able to work anymore, in which case you will not be of service to yourself, let alone to other people. It’s not about being strong or weak. It’s a sign of intelligence to be able to take a break. And if people are telling you not to take a break or pushing you or insinuating that you can’t, take a look to see if they are directly benefiting from you not taking a break. If it’s self-serving for them to need you all the time and for you to be more available than you physically can be, they don’t care about you. They care about what you can do for them. Take that break. I hear stories of athletes in practice that ran until they passed out… For what?
And taking a break for your mental health is frowned upon way more than physical health. With a mental injury or any kind of invisible illness that people can’t see, it’s not real to them. Because you can’t see the chemicals in my brain that are imbalanced. Society doesn’t understand mental health… When you are typically high functioning and you’re the best at something, to show any kind of weakness is very upsetting to people.”
Q: Purely Inspired has partnered with the National Wellness Network to offer a free wellness experience* to anyone who purchases a Purely Inspired product from now until June 28. Between yoga, Pilates, boot camp, dance, a personal training session, or a meditation experience, which would you choose?
A: “I’d go with meditation because it’s something I haven’t experienced before and feels more like emotional health.
If I didn’t have access to working out or physical classes, then I might take up one of the classes. Some cycling classes are grossly overpriced, but can be a cool one-time experience, especially if you’re not into traditional fitness. Or dance, where a lot of people would probably like to dance or take lessons, but feel like, ‘Where do I start?’ A free coupon is a really great way. You have nothing to lose.”
Q: Not only are you a skating legend but you can also juggle. How did you pick that talent up?
A: “In elementary school, in a really small school in small town Springfield, Missouri, the same time as when I started skating, we had a very cool and progressive gym teacher, Coach D. On Thursdays she would have a juggling class before school for hand-eye coordination and a group activity. It was really cool—and something that the cool kids did, oddly enough. It was really fun. That’s how I started juggling. Our juggling troupe traveled and performed for under-privileged kids. We juggled to the song, “Wipe Out.” (Laughs)
Q: Were you one of the “cool kids” growing up?
A: “It was an interesting school because to be ‘different’ was welcomed. If you were the kid whose parents had them do an alternative dance by the choreographers of Stomp, you were the cool kid. If you juggled, you were the cool kid. It was different there. Yes, I was [cool] as Class President of my fifth grade class. And then in middle school, I was not, at all. I was undersized, I was not popular or cool at all. I was very much the ice skater girl and just was kind of weird and out there—and that was fine. I was friends with all of the drama theater kids, I just kind of fit in with that group.”
Q: You spend a lot of time in ice rinks, but what are some of your favorite outdoor activities to do in the summer and spring?
A: “I am not particularly outdoorsy. Hiking is not for everybody and I don’t believe in camping, but I would say going to the beach, playing football, or playing in the ocean. I just went to a baby shower and there was a cornhole game, so something like that. But if you want to go hiking, I’m not that friend.”
Q: What’s something your fans would be surprised to learn about you?
A: “Most people don’t know how funny I can, or try to, be. I also don’t do basements. At all. I won’t go in them. Laundry in my apartment is quarters and with the change shortage, it’s been a nightmare. My best friend invited me to do laundry at her place, but it’s in the basement. I ask that she comes down with me.
I think people would probably be most surprised to know that I am a little offbeat and eccentric. I’m also more personable than as I was portrayed throughout most of my career. And, I still have my baby blanket. I will not be shamed for any of those.” (Smiles)
Upcoming Ice Dreams Tour Schedule:
June 3 – OBM Arena (Strongsville, OH)
June 4 – Suburban Ice (Rochester, MI)
June 5 – Northbrook Sports Center (Northbrook, IL)
June 12 – Northwell Health Ice Center (East Meadow,
For tickets, visit www.icedreamstour.com.
*Valid on purchases of participating Purely Inspired products between 5/3/22 – 6/28/22. Contiguous US only. Must be 18+ years of age to participate. Credit card may be required. Limit 1 reward per person. Additional Terms & Conditions apply at purelyinspiredrewards.com.
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