Olympic Figure Skater Gracie Gold Announces Time Off 'to Seek Some Professional Help'
U.S. figure skating champion and Olympic medalist Gracie Gold will be “taking some time off” from her sport to “seek some professional help,” she confirmed to PEOPLE on Friday.
“My passion for skating and training remains strong. However, after recent struggles on and off the ice, I realize I need to seek some professional help and will be taking some time off while preparing for my Grand Prix assignments,” Gold said in a statement. (USA Today was first to report the news.)
“This time will help me become a stronger person,” Gold’s statement continued, “which I believe will be reflected in my skating performances as well.”
According to USA Today, Gold — who earned a bronze medal on the U.S. figure skating team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia — has made an essentially unprecedented decision to take voluntary time away “at such a crucial moment.” The 2018 U.S. Olympic figure skating trials are in January, and there are three spots open for women on the U.S. Olympic figure skating team.
It was not immediately clear how long Gold’s planned absence is or what her “recent struggles” may be. A representative for Gold declined comment beyond the statement.
The 22-year-old will no longer compete in the Japan Open in October as scheduled, while the Grand Prix assignments she referenced in her statement are both slated for November. Her decision comes after she’s already begun promoting the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Despite two U.S. figure skating championships and her medal-winning Olympic performance, Gold’s career has deteriorated sharply in recent months, USA Today reports, noting that she finished a disappointing sixth at the 2017 national championships in January, only a year after winning her second U.S. title.
“Her decline culminated this spring and summer in a disheartening inability to land even the simplest jumps in skating shows and a U.S. Figure Skating preview camp,” reporter Christine Brennan wrote.
“When she was skating well, she was magical,” former coach Frank Carroll told the paper earlier this week.
He said of Gold, “You said to yourself, ‘Oh my God, she’s gorgeous. She looks like a movie star. She has such joie de vivre.’ Then you ask yourself what happened to that. I hope she can find happiness.”
Previously asked about returning for the Winter Games in 2018, Gold struck an optimistic tone, saying in 2014, “I definitely have two Olympics in me; I don’t know about three Olympics.”
Gold has not yet commented publicly on her decision beyond her statement. A few weeks ago, on Instagram, she posted a photo of herself on the ice along with the brief caption “your happy ending is up to you.”
This story originally appeared on PEOPLE.com.