Interview With Gracie Gold, 2014 U.S. National Figure Skating Champion:

You said you felt "strangely calm" in your U.S. National Championship performance, what do you attribute that to?
Gold: I think it's just solid day in and day out training with Frank [Carroll]. The standing ovations helped the jitters, especially after a whole amazing event and hearing the cheers from the crowd. But I did feel strangely calm. And I just knew that if I did my job, then it would be enough.
What helped you nail the highest-ever ladies' score at the championships for short program? Do anything different to prepare than you had in the past?
Gold: I definitely trained a lot more solid last year, beginning to end. If there's a little thing off here and there, getting up and continuing right away. Evaluating after I did the lap through and not while I was doing the lap through. We really worked on saving every single landing, just fighting for everything. In the points game, with the new system, it's all about the points and every little detail counts.
When did you start skating and what made you choose to do it?
Gold: I was eight-years-old when I started skating. I was at the local ice rink. We were there for a birthday party, so after opening presents and eating cake, we went down to the ice rink and there were ice skaters in the middle. They were jumping and spinning and I was in awe. So I wanted to learn how to sort of control my speed and fly willy-nilly around the rink. I asked my mom to sign me up for skate lessons and I started later that fall.
How much practice time do you log in preparation for the Olympics?
Gold: At least three hours a day. At least three solid sessions. Maybe even a little bit more. The closer you get to competition, you taper down a little bit. Time-wise, you just become more efficient in your training. Maybe you just do two, two-and-a-half sessions, but you still fit everything in.
Is there a factor from your childhood that makes you a great candidate to win an Olympic gold medal? Sibling rivalry? Parental neglect?
Gold: Well, I've always been really competitive ... even when I was little. My sister and I would race in everything, it was always a competition. My mom and dad always pushed me in the healthiest ways, to be the best me that I could be. It wasn't about winning a gold medal, or a winning a swimming race, but just doing the best that I could. I think that really helps and I really applied that to skating.
How did you choose the music for your programs -- what's that process like?
Gold: A lot of thought goes into picking your music, especially in an Olympic year. Because you want a kind of music that the audience loves, but is also really classic so that the judges and people who really know figure skating can also appreciate it. You want something with that Olympic feel, so that when you're coming around at the end of your long program, people are already on their feet before you even finish. So a lot of work goes into it, you have to sit down with your choreographer, your coach, your parents and just really talk about what kind of program you want based on what you're training to do that season.
So now that you're an Olympian officially, do you start looking at some of the other top skaters from other countries, or do you just focus on you?
Gold: Well, the U.S. is one of the last teams to be announced. I think the Canadian team is being announced around the same time. So we already kind of know who's going to be at Sochi and how everybody is going to match up. It'll be a very interesting event.
How does the weather change and the time zone change affect a skater's preparation? Do you do anything geared toward Sochi itself?
Gold: It's hard. It's definitely something that you'll have to mentally train for. You can't really do a couple of practice run-throughs at Sochi ... it'll be its own experience. Nobody will have extra time at Sochi before, everybody will be on the same playing fields.
Is there anything you do that is quirky or idiosyncratic ... a signature to you?
Gold: I think my triple-triple is one of the things that I'm known for. And the triple lutz-triple toe. I did them both here. And I've done them on the national circuit. So I think that's definitely something to look forward to. I open up both programs with the same combination.
Do you feel a lot of pressure to live up to the name "Gold?"
Gold: Having a last name "Gold" is definitely a double-edged sword because there are a lot of really great things associated with gold -- great, goals, figure skating, Olympics. But there's also that kind of added pressure. Gold goes for gold... Gold doesn't get bronze. But that was the name I was born with, so I guess I'll keep it...
Gracie Gold
Follow Gracie on her quest for gold on Twitter @GraceEGold and once the Winter Olympics begin in Sochi Russia on NBC (Feb. 7 - Feb. 23).

Want to perfect your own triple lutz? Slap on a set of skates near you »