Gracie Gold is just 17 years old, but she is already garnering gaudy praise from figure-skating greats and other observers. Despite not taking home a medal at the world championships in London, Ontario, there is reason to believe that Gold is on her way to being the next big American star in the sport.
The United States hasn't had a true marquee name in figure skating for quite some time, and Gold has all the tools to be the next great hope.
Kelly Whiteside of USA TODAY points out that American women used to dominate at both the Olympics and the world championships, capturing 17 medals at the Winter Games—including seven golds.
That success hasn't been sustained, though, as no one from the U.S. has even found the podium since 2006.
Significant strides were taken to change that trend on Saturday in Canada. Gold finished in sixth place in the free skate category in Canada with a stellar score of 184.25. Her teammate, Ashley Wagner, placed one spot ahead, which opened up a third spot for the Americans in the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.
1992 Olympic singles champion Kristi Yamaguchi tweeted out her congratulations to the dynamic American duo that could very well be spearheading a national figure-skating renaissance.
However, Yamaguchi then singled out Gold thereafter with a favorable comparison to herself:
@graceegold I was 6th at my first Worlds too :)— Kristi Yamaguchi (@kristiyamaguchi) March 17, 2013
An exclusive shout-out such as this one is only part of the reason that Gold is being so widely heralded as the next big thing.
Jerry Solomon, president of sports marketing and entertainment company StarGames and husband to two-time Olympic medalist Nancy Kerrigan, is buying the hype.
He told Whiteside, "She has all the makings of a tremendous star, which America hasn't seen in a long time." In fact, Solomon is planning a world tour for America's top skaters ahead of the next Winter Games, and says that a lot of it depends on Gold's presence.
Toller Cranston—a six-time Canadian champion and bronze medalist in the 1976 Olympics—is also sold on Gold.
An accomplished junior career was highlighted by Gold winning the national title in the States and finishing as the silver medalist at the world championship in 2012. This year—the first in her senior career—she won the silver medal at the U.S. National Championships.
The majority of Gold's accomplishments are proudly displayed on her Twitter profile (@GraceEGold), which suggest that she is not afraid to handle the expectations.
Although Gold has outstanding jumping ability for her early stages of development as a skater, Whiteside indicates that the teenager must improve her execution of tricks.
That should be expected from a very young skater with so much room to grow, though. As long as Gold keeps at it, all accounts indicate that she has the natural gifts and savvy to handle the big stage that would accompany a meteoric rise to prominence.