Popular figure skater Gracie Gold is taking time off from her sport "to seek some professional help," she announced in a statement Friday. Gold is a two-time US figure skating champion, was a member of the 2014 US Olympic team that won the bronze medal, and is an expected member of the 2018 US Olympic team, per the Washington Post. But she has been on what USA Today calls "a precipitous and alarming 17-month-long slide" since she fell from first place to fourth at the 2016 world championships; she continued to flail at competitions, and in appearances this spring and summer, she found it difficult to land simple jumps. She ultimately finished sixth at the 2017 national championships, missing this year's world championships.
Her statement does not specify what sort of help she's seeking but only mentions "recent struggles on and off the ice." The 22-year-old has spoken in the past about her struggles with her weight, saying last October that she didn't currently have the "lean body" required for her sport. Longtime US Olympic coach Frank Carroll coached Gold for four seasons, but the two "abruptly" split after the 2017 national championships; he tells USA Today he wonders "what happened" to Gold's "joie de vivre" and hopes she "can find happiness." Her announcement comes four months before the 2018 US Olympic figure skating trials; Gold will skip the Japan Open on Oct. 7 but said in her statement she plans to be back in time for her Grand Prix assignments in China and France in November. (Read more Gracie Gold stories.)