NYT: Gracie Gold’s Battle for Olympic Glory Ended in a Fight to Save Herself

Japanfan

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I agree with your post except for one thing: You left out the most important group that needs to learn from Gracie's experience: The parents/families of these athletic prodigies.

How do you know that Gracie's parents have not learned from her experience? In the article Gracie's mom Denise said she was concerned that Gracie was becoming too thin.

The pressures Gracie was subjected too as a star elite skater would have been many and come from many sources, including pressure from herself.

In an interview for Canadian TV one of Skate Canada's leaders said that 'the person always comes first, not the skater'. But I didn't totally believe him. I think a federation could put pressure on a skater inadvertently, and either implicitly or explicitly. In Gracie's case, she seemed to fit the mold of the ice princess, and America has been missing one/looking for one as a while. In Canada it's more about the men, and who 'the next one' is.

I wish the writer of this article would have asked Gracie's mother if she and her husband had any regrets now about making so many sacrifices for their child's skating. Just think how Gracie likely internalized that--the family was spilt up so that she could pursue her skating with the best coaches--well then, she damn well better be perfect and win that OGM.

I'm sure a lot of skaters feel pressure because of the sacrifices their parents and families are making. As to having regrets, only Gracie's parents would know that. Plenty of skaters' families are split up to support the skaters, both by accompanying them to competitions and such, and by earning money.

Is Alyssa Liu's father now doing the same thing? How personally invested is he in her success?

Not sure anyone who is not acquainted with him personally would know that.

I don't think she has any concept of how good she is and her father certainly isn't pushing her to be better.

But I also don't think she's anything like Gracie. From the time she was a Junior you could tell Gracie was a perfectionist. I'd say Alyssa more reminds me of a young Mirai: happy, energetic, and enamored with skating. If she does struggle I would suspect it would be due to injury, a growth spurt, or losing her love for the sport as she gets older.

It's hard to predict how Alyssa will respond to the pressure of being American champion and how she will deal with the pressures and challenges of competition going forward.
 
D

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What on earth does this thread have to do with Alysa Liu? The almost gleeful speculation that Alysa will somehow end up like Gracie is just sick.

As for Gracie, I remember hearing about that Champs Camp and thinking it was an exaggeration, but enough sources have confirmed the account that I tend to believe it. Like others, I hope for the best for her. Giving this interview, skating in Russia.... it all seems a bit too soon to me, but I trust / hope that she and her team knows what they're doing.
 

Carolla5501

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Who said anything about forcing? I was suggesting that her parents could have suggested she get professional help. One would think that if they had, there would be some mention of it in the article, but there isn't.

And if anyone deserves compassion in this, it's Gracie Gold, not anyone else., at least not without more information than is in that article -- information that we really shouldn't expect or want, unless people involved have some need or desire to share it. That doesn't stop me from wondering.


However, without the information that YOU say we should not expect or want you are willing to throw her parents under the bus aren't you? More like "rush to judge" than compassion
 

Vagabond

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However, without the information that YOU say we should not expect or want you are willing to throw her parents under the bus aren't you? More like "rush to judge" than compassion
Wondering what her parents were doing and quoting what the Mayo Clinic suggests family members should do when a loved one is not throwing them under the bus.
 

Carolla5501

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Wondering what her parents were doing and quoting what the Mayo Clinic suggests family members should do when a loved one is not throwing them under the bus.

You said "One would think if the had" Sorry that's not "wondering" that's Throwing them under the bus because you somehow have read BETWEEN the lines . There's not any question in your statement!
 

Spun Silver

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You said "One would think if the had" Sorry that's not "wondering" that's Throwing them under the bus because you somehow have read BETWEEN the lines . There's not any question in your statement!
I think @Vagabond was reading between the lines of the article and I had the same reaction. It mentions that Gracie was estranged from them and it mentions that one bit of concern on her mother's part, but it is oddly silent otherwise. We don't know, and maybe it is pointless to speculate, but to me the implication is that they weren't helpful. Possibly because of her father's situation, possibly because Gracie wouldn't/couldn't hear them, possibly because they were more focused on her Olympic hopes than her health, possibly for other reasons. It's human to wonder as long we keep in mind that we really don't know.

PS: Reading between the lines is a perfectly valid interpretive strategy and everyone does it all the time. It's obviously not infallible but there's nothing wrong with it per se. Life is not so black and white that we never need to wonder, ask questions or follow hunches.
 

Vagabond

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You said "One would think if the had" Sorry that's not "wondering" that's Throwing them under the bus because you somehow have read BETWEEN the lines . There's not any question in your statement!
Davka.

It is human to wonder.
 

Perky Shae Lynn

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Gracie is a real warrior for telling her story so openly and honestly. I am sad for her, but at the same time - life is full of challenges. She's come through on the other side, thought it will be a lifelong battle. We ALL have our battles, hers just happened to be very public.

And folks, don't blame the parents, siblings, etc. There is very little one can do to help someone who refuses to get help. Interventions do not work for a lot of people, involuntary psych holds do not work, etc. Thank God Gracie was able to realize she had a problem, and was humble enough to acknowledge it. And deal with it. She's a champ and I wish her the best.
 

Messalina

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Completely agree. I have a SIL who blew out her short term memory on drugs and alcohol and is only now out of a nursing home into a group home situation. All of us are very concerned about how she will handle it because she refuses to admit she has a drinking problem. Add to that the fact that she is also very clever and manipulative (she could talk your ear off and make you think she's the sweetest thing since candy apples), and that's a potent recipe for disaster. She's positive she can handle anything. We all know better and just have to deal with her as best we can.

This could be almost a verbatim description of my sister. Always the smartest, prettiest, most charming, most promising girl - flash-forward 20 years later and she was doing drugs with her adolescent son - then 20 after that and she can't follow a text thread for more than 2 paragraphs and goes into DT's if she happens to get the stomach flu and can't drink for 1/2 a day - but doesn't remember drinking since college. Claims she's never been drunk in her life. Is still so persuasive and cunning on her best days - so hard to disbelieve. A high-functioning professional - an anesthesiologist - she hid her drug problem from the world for 15 years. Later she left rehab against doctors' advice more than 10x times. Even today, there's no helping her. You can't help someone who doesn't admit to the problem. I'm not even sure what her exact diagnosis is (beyond the alcoholic Korsakoff syndrome) because she never shared it with the rest of us: bipolar, borderline personality disorder? It doesn't even matter now because my sister is nearly 70 and will never again be well because the damage to her brain is permanent.

I'm so sorry that Gracie is going through this, but so happy for her that she's recognized her struggles so young and is working on them, eyes wide open. That she's getting help and there are so many well-wishers and supporters all around her now. I think the NYT Magazine article is a good thing. Mental illness flourishes in the dark like some kind of poisonous nocturnal plant. Your natural tendency is to self-isolate, to hide, to deny, to deny it to yourself. I can speak to this from personal experience myself. It's not that hard to hide things from people for quite some time - to at least confuse them so they know something's off but couldn't say exactly what. But there's no way to get better as long as you're still hiding.
 

Coco

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@Vagabond , her father might have been prohibited from leaving the state.

Let's just say we don't know everything and show some compassion.

I'm quoting myself, which feels pretentious.

I did not mean to single anybody out or sic every one on one poster.

@Vagabond 's instincts are 100% natural I think we probably all had a similar reaction on some level. I was just trying to make the point that there's probably tons and tons of details that are being left out of these articles. Think of how many articles before this one that did not include information about her dad. So what else is being left out? We don't know and we never will and it's probably none of our business.

Given the nature of our times, I'm wondering if we might start seeing coaches and athletes require each other to sign non-disclosure agreements.
 

PDilemma

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What on earth does this thread have to do with Alysa Liu? The almost gleeful speculation that Alysa will somehow end up like Gracie is just sick.

In 2012, Gracie was the next big thing. By the time 2013 Nationals were over, she was being predicted as the 2014 or 2018 OGM . She was the "future" of U.S. Figure Skating. She was going to have a spectacular career--that from fans and skating media. Her last name was her destiny according to writers and skating pundits.

In 2016, her mother tells us, she was crushed that she didn't meet any of those expectations and convinced that she had let the entire country down by not wining (or medalling) at Worlds.

What does that have to do with Alysa? I provided the Christine Brennan quote. You can find the "Alysa will win the 2022 Olympics" stuff elsewhere on this and other fan boards. Tara declared her the "future of U.S. Figure Skating" on Instagram yesterday.

No glee here. Absolutely none. Just a sincere wish that everyone from media to fans on the boards would dial it back by about 10,000. Let her go home, train in peace and quiet and be a kid. Let her and her skating develop without the pressure of crazy expectations. And that message goes to dad and U.S. Figure Skating, too, who decided that a media tour is a great idea for a 13 year old. We have seen time and again that early notoriety can be emotionally fraught for children and young teens and we have seen time and again that skaters at 12, 13 and 14 aren't always the same at 15, 16 and 17, let alone 20.
 

AxelAnnie

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This is gut wrenching!

Two things that stood out for me:
1. Both of her parents are in the medical field, and yet either didn't see or couldn't help.
2. Ashley Wagner is a mensch! Not many would be brave enough to do the right thing for a friend.
 

Erin

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My reading of this is the weight issue seemed to start in the run up to Sochi. Go watch Gracie from 2013 then switch to Olympics 2014 and the weight loss is really startling.

You're right - the difference between 2013 and 2014 Nationals is really striking and not in a good way...there is even a difference from Skate Canada and Nationals. It's quite sad in retrospect that she got the message that she looked good instead of that it was unhealthy, but unfortunately I think the team surrounding her at the time was a big part of the problem.
 

demetriosj

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I think it's worrisome that Gracie went back to training competitively so quickly. This is the thing that caused her a lot of heartache and pain. She's just starting to recover from her dark times. I would hope that she'd feel that it's ok to cut her losses and move on to another chapter in her young life if she wanted to.
 

puglover

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It must be a catch 22 for these skaters. To reach the level they are at they have had to be totally devoted from a very young age. It has become their whole life - what happens at the rink makes or breaks the day. Stepping away, even for a brief time, must be traumatic. I guess the big question is how to minimize the damaging and maximize the solution aspect. It sounds like Gracie's coaches are trying to do that for her.
 

dramagrrl

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I finally got a chance to read the whole article, and there are things in it that I definitely find concerning. It could be the writer's wording, but the sentence "She received a Prozac prescription at the Meadows, but she said she had weaned herself off it" makes it sound like Gracie herself just decided to stop taking the meds without consulting a doctor, which is never a good idea with antidepressants, especially considering she still seems to have a long way to go. The emphasis on Restencourt's "insisting" on eating with her at least once a week and "reversing her weight gain" also seems like something that should not be emphasized when one is in recovery from an eating disorder (even if the eating together part is to actually see that she is eating rather than the opposite).

I also thought the many mentions of weight loss and gain and specific numbers given throughout the article were unnecessary and potentially harmful or triggering for other young skaters (or young women in general) that might be reading it. Even though it seems like the idea was to give the "true story", the message that comes across just emphasizes, to me, the extreme problems with weight and body image the sport continues to have, without actually critiquing the problem.
 

Japanfan

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I think it's worrisome that Gracie went back to training competitively so quickly. This is the thing that caused her a lot of heartache and pain. She's just starting to recover from her dark times. I would hope that she'd feel that it's ok to cut her losses and move on to another chapter in her young life if she wanted to.

She probably made the decision to go back to training in consultation with her therapist, her family, and her team.

She did not know how it would work out - and at least, she took on her demons and tried.

I would expect she is ready to move on to something else in life if she wants to, I would think she's discussed that option with her therapist.

But she may want to continue to skating for the love of it. We will see.
 

GreatLakesGal

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How do you know that Gracie's parents have not learned from her experience? In the article Gracie's mom Denise said she was concerned that Gracie was becoming too thin.

I never said Gracie's parents didn't learn from their experience. I'm sure they learned a great deal--which is why I would have liked to hear more about that in the article.

1. Both of her parents are in the medical field, and yet either didn't see or couldn't help.

I worked in academic psychiatry for 15 years (mid eighties through late nineties) and my experience was that most physicians and other medical professionals outside the mental health field knew little about these issues and tended to underestimate their impact on patients. Back then the primary care docs were writing lots of benzo scripts; today they're writing lots of scripts for antidepressants. But overall their understanding of the complexities of depression and anxiety still seem quite limited.
 

UGG

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I was on Zoloft for about a year and had no idea you couldn’t stop taking it cold turkey. “forgot to take their meds” had a completely different meaning to me after that experience. I am sure Gracie’s doctor was part of the weaning off process- speaking from experience there is no way a person can do it without medical guidance. It’s very scary.
 

Skittl1321

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I finally got a chance to read the whole article, and there are things in it that I definitely find concerning. It could be the writer's wording, but the sentence "She received a Prozac prescription at the Meadows, but she said she had weaned herself off it" makes it sound like Gracie herself just decided to stop taking the meds without consulting a doctor, which is never a good idea with antidepressants, especially considering she still seems to have a long way to go. The emphasis on Restencourt's "insisting" on eating with her at least once a week and "reversing her weight gain" also seems like something that should not be emphasized when one is in recovery from an eating disorder (even if the eating together part is to actually see that she is eating rather than the opposite).

I also thought the many mentions of weight loss and gain and specific numbers given throughout the article were unnecessary and potentially harmful or triggering for other young skaters (or young women in general) that might be reading it. Even though it seems like the idea was to give the "true story", the message that comes across just emphasizes, to me, the extreme problems with weight and body image the sport continues to have, without actually critiquing the problem.

I am going to assume Restencourt "insisting" is based on advice with a doctor.

When a friend went through recovery from an eating disorder, after she got back from 6-months at an inpatient facility, eating WITH people was part of her treatment plan. At school we had a rotation of who would sit and eat lunch with her, when her parents could not. She had to learn to eat normally, and to view food as a social occasion. So this might be the coach wanting to also be active in Gracie's recovery.
 

AxelAnnie

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I finally got a chance to read the whole article, and there are things in it that I definitely find concerning. It could be the writer's wording, but the sentence "She received a Prozac prescription at the Meadows, but she said she had weaned herself off it" makes it sound like Gracie herself just decided to stop taking the meds without consulting a doctor, which is never a good idea with antidepressants, especially considering she still seems to have a long way to go. The emphasis on Restencourt's "insisting" on eating with her at least once a week and "reversing her weight gain" also seems like something that should not be emphasized when one is in recovery from an eating disorder (even if the eating together part is to actually see that she is eating rather than the opposite).

I also thought the many mentions of weight loss and gain and specific numbers given throughout the article were unnecessary and potentially harmful or triggering for other young skaters (or young women in general) that might be reading it. Even though it seems like the idea was to give the "true story", the message that comes across just emphasizes, to me, the extreme problems with weight and body image the sport continues to have, without actually critiquing the problem.


It does not seem like eating with someone who binges is useful.

And I have a different slant on the weight numbers. I think it was a crucial part of the story, and Gracie gave the interview.

Knowing she gained weight is one thing. Gaining 50 lbs is shocking. It is real. Gracie did not simply have an eating disorder. She was in meltdown.

As far as prozac goes......People in breakdown mode are not thinking clearly. There may have been effects of the drug that she did not like. Or she just wanted another way to make her point.
 

CantALoop

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It does not seem like eating with someone who binges is useful.

It is useful. Binge eating disorder sufferers, including myself, often feel guilty when eating. This is why binge eaters often eat alone or in secret - we feel guilt and judgment even if there's nobody else with us.

Having someone supportive share a meal in a nonjudgmental setting helps to unlearn these negative thoughts we have associated with eating and unpackage those feelings of guilt.

Gracie did not simply have an eating disorder. She was in meltdown.

As far as prozac goes......People in breakdown mode are not thinking clearly. There may have been effects of the drug that she did not like. Or she just wanted another way to make her point.

Now you're a psychologist? Not sure that "meltdown" is in the DSM-5...or that Prozac is contraindicated for "breakdown mode".
 

AxelAnnie

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It is useful. Binge eating disorder sufferers, including myself, often feel guilty when eating. This is why binge eaters often eat alone or in secret - we feel guilt and judgment even if there's nobody else with us.

Having someone supportive share a meal in a nonjudgmental setting helps to unlearn these negative thoughts we have associated with eating and unpackage those feelings of guilt.



Now you're a psychologist? Not sure that "meltdown" is in the DSM-5...or that Prozac is contraindicated for "breakdown mode".
Nope, just a sufferer of clinical depression.

Gracie had many things going on at once, which is not unusual.

My grand daughter tried to kill herself last year. Let me tell you, we all learned a lot really fast. Precious grand daughter has multiple problems (as does Gracie...according to Gracie), and it makes it very hard to treat.

Thank you for the information about sharing a meal.

And I don't think I ever said prozac was contraindicated. Prozac tics a lot of the boxes for what was/is going on with Gracie. Prozac:
 

flyushka

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Gracie did not simply have an eating disorder. She was in meltdown.

As far as prozac goes......People in breakdown mode are not thinking clearly. There may have been effects of the drug that she did not like. Or she just wanted another way to make her point.

I don't know what you mean by meltdown but major depressive disorder is unfortunately a very common comorbidity among those suffering from eating disorders. In terms of the Prozac, the article worded it pretty ambiguously but the "weaning" off of it was most likely done at the direction of a doctor. It's pretty normal to taper it off several months after remission is achieved, depending on individual circumstances.

ETA to add I'm so sorry to hear of your family's struggles with depression, AxelAnnie. All my best to you and your granddaughter
 
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Stephori

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I agree with the poster above who suggested that this article should have been delayed until she is further along in her recovery. Since she is susceptible to a relapse, I question her weaning herself off her antidepressant now, considering the stress she is still experiencing. Also, find it disturbing that since she has been through an ED treatment program her coach is advising her about diet and has to coax her to eat half a hamburger.
Re her father, can you imagine the stress of having to fund two children with one of the top coaches in the world and having your wife living away from you. Do I understand from the article that the mother is still is living in California?
I wonder if all this stress on him lead to his own drug abuse.
Who knows how many families are left scathed and their financial futures damaged by this tunnel visioned pursuit of success in fs. The odds of success are so small.
 

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