Figure skating: Gold targets 24 carat prize in Sochi

Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:15am EST
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By Pritha Sarkar

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - With her shiny blonde hair pulled into a bun and a name that oozes Hollywood royalty, Gracie Gold already bears all the hallmarks of a champion.

All she needs now is a glittering Olympic medal to complete the 24 carat package.

If the 18-year-old cover-girl of American figure skating succeeds in topping the podium next Thursday she will join an illustrious list of American Olympic champions.

Yet her inspiration comes not from Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Kristi Yamaguchi, Sarah Hughes or even Tara Lipinski, who won in 1998 as a 15-year-old, but from a compatriot who overcame far greater challenges than trying to successfully land a triple Salchow.

"Helen Keller is my hero because can you imagine pretty much being born with your senses and then losing them... all of your senses... sight, hearing?" Gold told Reuters in an interview following a practice session at the Sochi Olympics training rink.

"Just kind of being trapped in your own head and trying to figure out the world. Just that kind of adversity. I mean if I have a bruise or cut my foot and I try to go skate, I think that's an adversity.

"But then when you read about incredible stories like Helen Keller, and she was able to take what she was given and make a beautiful life of it, she's my hero because of that.

"It reminds there are other things besides skating and besides the Olympics. If I feel tired and cranky one day because I didn't skate well, I think of what she had to face every day. It just gives me chills thinking about it."   Continued...

Gracie Gold of the United States competes during the Team Ladies Free Skating Program at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, February 9, 2014. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk