Gracie Gold is immensely talented, and with that talent comes great pressure. Her career has seemingly been a steady buildup, and her performance in the World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario, Canada is the latest major step.
Gold scored just a 58.85 in the ladies short program on Thursday, which was good for ninth, but she still has the free skate remaining on Saturday, and that is where she genuinely shines brightest.
Her teammates skated well, and things are looking up for the team, but there are, of course, no guarantees.
U.S. Figure Skating @USFigureSkating
#TeamUSA is in a great position going into Saturday's FS. @AshWagner2010 is in 5th and @GraceEGold is in 9th. #FSWorlds133/14/2013, 7:47:20 PM
The United States needs a combined placement of 13 to earn three spots in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games in women's figure skating. With so much ability and swagger, Gold is one of the country's best hopes.
Per a USA Today article by Kelly Whiteside, Gold is sometimes criticized for being too confident or borderline cocky by those who aren't used to seeing "brash" athletes in this sport.
I've had some criticism that I'm brash or have had some of my quotes taken possibly out of context and they have sounded maybe cocky or arrogant. But confidence is a very big thing for this sport.
The last thing you want to be feeling when you step out onto that ice, alone, in a dress, in front of all these people, is not confident in yourself.
This is true, but the 17-year-old must be ready, willing and able to back up her talk with results.
She earned a silver medal at the U.S. Nationals after a stunning performance in the free skate. She finished first with that program, and that helped overcome her ninth-place finish in the short program and earned her a medal.
She'll need to do the same thing at the World Championships, but she will be under a lot more pressure and competing against a much tougher field. Olympic champion Kim Yu-na of South Korea and others are competing.
Gold's coach Alex Ouriashev has stated that focus has been a problem for Gold in the past (TeamUSA.org), but her past experiences should have prepared her for this moment.
Gold appears ready to do her part to keep the United States within the combined 13 placement score and on track to represent her country at the Olympics.