When figure skater Gracie Gold began doing visualizations after last season, when she had finished sixth in the world and second in the United States during her first year at the senior level, she pictured coach Alex Ouriashev at the rink boards with her in the 2014 Olympics.
Late last month, the 18-year-old who had been based in the Chicago suburbs edited Ouriashev out of the picture. In a telephone interview Sunday, she would not give a detailed reason for the split.
"We really wanted to keep it together, but it wasn't working and it wasn't efficient," Gold said. "We needed to make a change."
So the full image she sees of herself competing at the Sochi Olympics now isn't as clear.
It could include Frank Carroll as her coach. Or Oleg Epstein. Or both.
She could be training exclusively with Carroll in Los Angeles. Or with Epstein in Canton, Mich., where her choreographer, Marina Zoueva, also works. That is where she has trained the last 21/2 weeks after leaving Ouriashev, her primary coach the last two seasons.
Or she could try both.
"I don't think we would be completely shifting myself to Los Angeles," Gold said Sunday from Canton, where she returned after a disappointing second-place performance at the U.S. International Classic in Salt Lake City. "I will definitely travel between Los Angeles and Canton. Only time will tell if I will be based in Canton or LA."
The whole thing seems pretty unsettling just five months before the Olympics.
"(Shizuka) Arakawa left her coach two months before the Olympics, and that worked out for her," Gold noted. "I don't feel nervous at all, just excited about the opportunities this season holds."
Japan's Arakawa did shift just a few months before the 2006 Winter Games, where she won gold. But her situation became less fluid than Gold's is now.
She leaves Wednesday essentially for a tryout with Carroll, 75, who also is coaching 2010 Olympic champion Evan Lysacek, currently off the ice with an injury, and 2013 world silver medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan.
After watching video of Gold's free skate in Salt Lake City, Carroll already knows the first thing he will tell her.
"She was too frantic," Carroll said Sunday. "She doesn't need to interpret every single beat of the music. I would like to see her calm down."
Carroll also was leery of the idea that Gold might split her time between two coaching teams.
"She needs to listen to a voice, not many voices," Carroll said. "I think having many coaches is a mistake. I think she does have to be settled, and it doesn't necessarily have to be with me."
For the last two seasons, as Gold went from anonymity to the elite of U.S. women's skating, presentation skills always were seen as her shortcoming. But her jumps went missing in Salt Lake City: a fall and just one clean triple jump in the short program, four watered down jumps in the free skate.
"I do still need the technical part of skating," Gold said. "Even though I have wonderful jumps, I need to keep them up. I don't know whether Oleg and Marina feel comfortable coaching me full time and having that technical aspect."
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