Carl Gold, who grew up in Joplin, knows the value of a good coach.
“I had the privilege of playing for coach Dewey Combs,” said Gold, a 1976 graduate of Parkwood High School in Joplin and a fullback in Combs’ wishbone offense.
“I had a lot of fun playing football,” he said. “Our team was successful. We had a lot of standouts on that team who made me look good.”
Under the watchful eye of Combs, the team won the state championship that school year.
When his twin daughters decided to take up ice skating years later in Springfield, Gold knew how important it was for them to have good coaches. Little did he know then where that good coaching would take one of his daughters.
After years of practice with some of the best coaches available, he said, daughter Gracie will be a contender in the women’s figure skating event at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“If Gracie were to medal, I would be so thrilled,” he said. “But the fact that she has made it this far is such an accomplishment. I’m hopeful she is able to do her best. I believe anything is possible.”
Gracie Gold will be going up against South Korean Yuna Kim, who won the gold medal in women’s figure skating at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. Kim could become only the third woman, after Katarina Witt and Sonja Henie, to win successive Olympic figure skating championships.
‘DRIVEN AND DEDICATED’
Penny Stephens Collins, of Joplin, who went to high school with Carl Gold, said she really hasn’t paid that much attention to women’s figure skating in the past. Is she going to watch Gracie compete?
“Oh yes, most definitely,” she said. “I have watched it some, but not like this. It makes it a lot more fun when you know someone.”
Collins, who saw Carl Gold as recently as last fall, said she is not surprised that his daughter has excelled.
“Carl is very driven and very dedicated,” she said. “I can see where Gracie got that from him.”
Mike Seibert, a member of the Joplin City Council, grew up in Joplin “one house apart” from Carl Gold on East 14th Street.
“She comes from an athletic bloodline to say the least,” he sad. “Carl was good at football, track and basketball. Carl was an incredible athlete. People know him best for being the fullback for the state championship team that year.
“It’s got to be a dream come true for that family. It’s such a thrill for us who know Carl. To have such an incredible athlete, it’s got to be a once-in-a-lifetime thrill for that family.”
FROM HERE TO THERE
Carl Gold works as an anesthesiologist in Illinois. During his anesthesiology residency at Boston University, his wife, Denise, delivered twin girls, Gracie and Carly. After a brief stint in Massachusetts, they moved to Texas, where the girls were enrolled in kindergarten.
“They attended the first and second grades in Springfield, Mo.,” Carl Gold said. “That’s when things started happening. Denise has always had the kids in some activity since they were very young.
“They went to a birthday party at the Jordan Valley Ice Park skating rink. They spent an hour on the ice after the gifts and cake. Gracie saw some girls there spinning and chatting in their cute little dresses. She wanted to learn to skate.”
Her fraternal twin sister, Carly, would come on board soon after. Both would do well as beginners. After a few weeks of training, the family was told that Gracie could benefit from private lessons.
“We found a coach who took her on,” Carl Gold said. “She took off from there. She went to her first competition and continued to do well. We accelerated the amount of coaching from one time a week to a couple of times a week.
“It’s great stuff for your kids when they find something they are passionate about. They developed this passion for skating, and we have been fulfilling that passion ever since. It became their full-time interest.”
The girls would outgrow the coaching that was available to them. They found a new coach in Springfield, Ill. They would travel there on weekends from Springfield, Mo.
“It became clear they were going to continue and progress,” Carl Gold said. “After close to two years of commuting, we moved to Springfield, Ill., so that they could pursue figure skating.”
AN INTENSE SPORT
The father said figure skating is an intense sport that requires the participants to progress from one level to the next.
“They need input from several different kinds of people,” he said. “They need people to help them with the way they dress, their choreography, the regular coaching and off-ice training.”
Within a couple of years, the Golds had outgrown the resources available in the Springfield, Ill., area. They looked to Chicago, commuting a weekend or two each month. In the girls’ freshman year in high school, the couple decided to relocate to Chicago and home-school the daughters.
Gracie, now age 18, relocated in September 2013 to Los Angeles, where she studied under Olympic coach Frank Carroll.
Carroll has coached three skaters to gold medals at the World Figure Skating Championships: Linda Fratianne, Michelle Kwan and Evan Lysacek. Lysacek also won the men’s Olympic gold medal in 2010 at Vancouver.
Carl Gold said Gracie has been training in Germany for the Olympics. Her mother and sister have been there helping with that training.
“In theory, it’s like the night before a final exam,” Carl Gold said. “You review everything and work on a few elements to maintain sharpness. It’s the final coaching.”
They will arrive Feb. 6 in Sochi. Carl Gold plans to join them at that time.
Gold said he was happy to help his daughters accomplish their goals with skating.
“But more importantly, I am happy with the people they have become. They are lovely and kind human beings who I am very proud of,” he said. “We have had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful people in this sport. We are grateful for all of those relationships.”
Gold credited his wife with making it all happen.
“With Denise, I don’t know where to begin,” he said. “She was their manager, chauffeur and chief nutritionist. She has gone out of her way to make those extra things happen for them that they might have missed because of their devotion to skating.
“They went to their junior-senior prom and homecoming. They had time with friends and went to birthday parties. She did so much to minimize the sacrifices.
“I know they sacrificed some things, but Gracie now has that chance to make one of her dreams come true.”
AT THE 2014 U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS this month in Boston, Gracie Gold placed first in the short program with 72.12 points, the highest women’s score ever earned at the U.S. championships under the ISU Judging System. She went on to win the free skate with another record score of 139.57, thus securing her first U.S. title. She was named to the U.S. team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Carl Gold, who grew up in Joplin, knows the value of a good coach.
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