Someday, Gracie Gold might drum up the courage to talk to her idol. Just not yet.
The 17-year-old American is making her Worlds debut here in London and, to say she’s in awe of being on the ice with idols such as Yuna Kim and Mao Asada ... well, that might be quite the understatement.
“To see them sitting next to me in the locker room is still a little bit intimidating,” said Gold, last year’s World junior silver medalist. “When you’re on the ice, you see they have banners and fans that come from everywhere, just to watch them.”
While Gold met Asada at Four Continents and easily conversed with her Japanese rival here, Kim is another story. She’d love to ask the Korean for an autograph or a photo, but it’s a little too much of a leap right now.
“Yuna, I just watched her from afar (today),” said Gold. “She was like my idol in the year 2009-2010 ... I’m kind of waiting to ask for a picture.”
Yes, Yuna Kim will tell you, it really is good to be back.
After a two-year absence from Worlds, the Korean sensation returned with a vengeance on Thursday, delivering the kind of sublime performance that showcased her many talents — and rocketed the Korean to the top of the standings after the short program.
No doubt she’s the woman to beat here.
It also validated her decision to return to the global stage as a competitor. “After winning the Olympics, I felt a bit empty, because I had achieved my goal,” the 22-year-old Kim told a horde of media. “Most skaters who decide to come back ... it’s really hard for them to get back on the ice with the same mentality right away. However, I skipped out on one or two seasons after that win, and it wasn’t an easy decision to make. But I made it and now I’m just focused on being back.”
It was rare for Kim to skate in one of the middle groups, but she appreciated the new position she was in. “It’s been awhile since I competed in general, so I’m actually picking up a lot of new things coming back,” she said. “Because I was so used to competing with so many high-level skaters in the past, this time I’m not as nervous. If I did end up competing with the top skaters right now, I think I would be more nervous.”
Now Kim is the one making everybody else nervous. Again.
Kurt Browning once used the words “old soul” to compliment Carolina Kostner, one of the truly lovely people in this sport. But at age 26, the reigning World champion will tell you this competition is anything but old hat — even if it’s her 11th crack at the big show.
“The more you do (something), the more you get used to that,” said Kostner, who knows her current status as World champion means little this week. “But unfortunately, (this event) always feels the same. You come here and you start from zero. I get out there and I have to say ‘okay, I have to start like everybody else,’ even though I’ve done it 10 other times. But here I am, and it always feels as difficult as it has the other times.”
Though Kostner suffered a fall on the back end of her triple-triple combination, her exquisite program was strong enough overall to place second — and within striking distance of another title.
But skating is now much more than that to the charming Italian. “I’m not the kind of person who talks a lot,” she said. “So this is a very good way for me to express myself, to go out there and say ‘this is me. I’m not perfect, I’m just human.’ But I’m trying my best to skate the way I think figure skating should be.”