Ouriashev says past season 'turned out perfectly'

Coach of U.S silver medalist Gracie Gold promises skater will up ante in Olympic season

Alex Ourisahev and Gracie Gold celebrate the latter's stellar performance in the free skate at the 2013 U.S. Championships.
Alex Ourisahev and Gracie Gold celebrate the latter's stellar performance in the free skate at the 2013 U.S. Championships. (Getty Images)


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By Vladislav Luchianov, special to
(04/23/2013) - Alexander Ouriashev, coach of U.S. silver medalist Gracie Gold, is satisfied with the results his prize student achieved in her senior debut season. The 17-year-old skater started the campaign with some up-and-down finishes, perhaps due to her excitement over the high expectations placed on her, but by the end of the year, she had established herself as an emerging star.

Gold finished seventh at her first Grand Prix event, 2012 Skate Canada, but at her next assignment, the 2012 Rostelecom Cup, she put her capabilities on display. Gold took the silver medal in Moscow, showing a strong confidence in her performances.

The most impressive highlight occurred in the free skate at the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, where, after a disappointing short program, Gold took first in the segment and won the silver medal.

At her debut world championships, Gold placed sixth, and with teammate Ashley Wagner's fifth-place showing, secured three spots for the U.S. ladies at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. She also contributed much to the victory of Team USA at the 2013 World Team Trophy. talked with Ouriashev about this past season, his impressions of other ladies' performances and his plans for the future. How would you evaluate Gracie's debut senior season? Did all things turn out the way you planned and expected?

Ouriashev: The season was great. We didn't plan something special for the season, but it turned out perfectly. We just worked incredibly hard, as always. At the 2013 World Team Trophy, Gracie improved her personal-best score after a very well-performed free skating program. Her previous record came at the 2013 U.S. Championships, where she also was more successful in the free skate. Which of her performances from this past season was especially significant for you?

Ouriashev: The most significant performance was, of course, her free program at U.S. nationals. Believe me, emotionally, it was probably the same as the birth of a child. Despite it being her debut senior season, Gracie, at her first world championships, finished sixth. Did you expect that?

Ouriashev: We have dreamed about the success, working [as hard] as horses. Thanks to her and Ashley Wagner's performances at worlds, Team USA will be represented by three ladies at the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi. Did you feel any additional pressure at that event because of what was riding on her finish?

Ouriashev: I'm very grateful to U.S. Figure Skating. There wasn't any pressure. We felt only all sorts of huge support. What are your thoughts on ladies skating from this past season?

Ouriashev: In my opinion, the ladies season was fantastic. There was the unique comeback of Yu-Na Kim, the great skating of Carolina Kostner, the pleasure of watching performances by Mao Asada, plus new names like Adelina Sotnikova, Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, Kaetlyn Osmond, Zijun Ii ... isn't that unique? Gracie has a strong set of technical elements and improved her program components with every event. How do you plan to approach your preparation for the Olympic season?

Ouriashev: We will not change much of anything, but I can promise you that her programs will be even more interesting and more complex than they were this year. Tell us about your cooperation with such choreographers as Scott Brown, Pasquale Camerlengo and Oleg Epstein.

Ouriashev: All choreographers with whom she works are very talented people, and the more of such people her path intersects with, the better it will be for her creative growth. Scott Brown is not just a great choreographer but also a good adviser. He's a kind of link between me and Gracie. You have worked in the United States for a long time. What are the main advantages of the American system of athletes' selection for competitions? Unlike some other countries, results are the main criteria for being named to national teams.

Ouriashev: I think the American system is the best one. An athlete goes through sectionals, then nationals, and only by his or her results can he or she be put on the national team. There are many positive examples [of the system's efficiency]. One of them is when, two years ago, Gracie failed at sectionals and missed the national championships. It so motivated her and me that in the next year she became the U.S. junior champion. What do you see as the main problems of figure skating in general, and can you offer any possible solutions?

Ouriashev: I always follow the principle that the coach is coaching, the skater is performing, and the judge is judging. Nothing is perfect in this world, so perhaps there are some problems in figure skating, but they are being solved by smart and decent people. Again, I'm a coach, and I have to do my job as best as I can. What are your main goals for the Olympic season?

Ouriashev: The main goals are to become a member of the Olympic team, and stay healthy and happy.