Coming into the 2014 Sochi Games, expectations were high for figure skater Gracie Gold to be the United States' best chance at reaching the podium in the individual competition for both the women and the men.
After her free skate, Gold remains in striking distance of doing just that, as she finds herself in fourth after earning a score of 68.83.
Gold delivered an excellent performance, sticking her jumps cleanly, and scoring well across the board. But, thanks to a trio of stellar performances, she's sitting just outside of the top three. South Korea's Yuna Kim scored best, with a 74.92, while Russia's Adelina Sotnikova scored just behind her at 74.61. Italian Carolina Kostner finished third, with a score of 74.12.
Gold was also part of a trio of strong showings from the Americans. Teammate Ashley Wagner sat fifth, with a score of 65.21, while 15-year-old Polina Edmunds sat sixth with a score of 61.04.
Figure skating legend Elvis Stojko talked about how strong her program was:
Big things were expected of Gold coming into these games. The 18-year-old won the 2014 U.S. Championships and finished sixth in the 2013 World Championships (teammate Ashley Wagner finished fifth in that competition).
She also finished second in the free skate during the team competition at these Olympics, though skaters like Kim and Asada weren't in the running. Of course, Gold wasn't focusing too much on that medal or her performance heading into the free skate, as she told Nancy Armour of USA Today before the event:
More than the extra training, it was the separation of the two competitions. I don't want to go into the short program being like, `Oh, I'm already in good standing, I already did a great long.' It's an entirely separate competition so I have to treat it as such.
Add it all up, and you can bet there was plenty of pressure on Gold heading into this event. Heck, even Taylor Swift is a fan.
To her credit, Gold handled the pressure with aplomb. All eyes will now turn to Wednesday's free skate starting at 10 a.m. ET, with a shot at the podium on the line. It's probably too big an ask for Gold to, well, earn gold, but a shot at a medal is within her reach, and she'll have her country's emphatic support behind her.
As she proved during the team competition, she's certainly capable of putting forth an extremely competitive free skate.