Gold is withdrawing from her Grand Prix of Figure Skating competitions next month while being treated for anxiety, depression and an eating disorder

By Adam Carlson
October 13, 2017 06:21 PM

U.S. figure skating champion and Olympic medalist Gracie Gold is withdrawing from her scheduled competitions in the Grand Prix of Figure Skating next month while she is being treated for anxiety, depression and an eating disorder.

“It saddens me deeply to sit out this Grand Prix Series, but I know it is for the best,” she said in a statement to PEOPLE on Friday afternoon, adding, “I will not have adequate training time to prepare and compete at the level that I want to.”

“I would like to thank U.S. Figure Skating, my fans and my sponsors for their ongoing support,” her statement continued. “I also want to thank [coaches] Marina Zoueva and Oleg Epstein for standing beside me through this journey and most of all my family for their unconditional love.”

Last month, Gold — who earned a bronze medal on the U.S. figure skating team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia — announced she would be “taking some time off” from her sport to “seek some professional help.”

“My passion for skating and training remains strong,” Gold said at the time. “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.”

“This time will help me become a stronger person,” she continued, “which I believe will be reflected in my skating performances as well.”

She did not specify then what the nature of her struggles were. Her decision came after she was already promoting the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Gracie Gold
| Credit: Harry How/Getty
Gracie Gold (center)

The 22-year-old said in September that she would no longer compete in the Japan Open in October, as scheduled, but would appear in two Grand Prix events in November.

On Friday, she announced she would not appear at those either.

It was not immediately clear if she planned to compete for a spot on Team USA at the Winter Olympics in February. There are three spots open on the U.S. figure skating team for the women’s event there.

Those competitors will be chosen only a few weeks before the Games get underway, after the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships end in January: A committee will select the athletes based on their performances from the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships through the U.S. championships.

“U.S. Figure Skating is in full support of Gracie,” a spokeswoman for the sport previously told PEOPLE, “and we would ask all to respect her privacy at this time.”

Despite two U.S. figure skating championships and her medal-winning Olympic performance, Gold finished sixth at the 2017 national championships in January, only a year after winning her second U.S. title.

“When she was skating well, she was magical,” former coach Frank Carroll told USA Today last month.

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.”

Gracie Gold

Last year, according to USA Today, Gold discussed the body weight pressures she’s faced — as other Olympic skaters have been public about their own challenges.

“You just don’t see overweight figure skaters for a reason,” Gold said. “It’s just something I’ve struggled with this whole year and in previous seasons. It’s just difficult when you’re trying to do the difficult triple jumps. It’s something that I am addressing, but it’s obviously not where it should be for this caliber of competition.”

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.”

Friend and fellow Olympic figure skater Ashley Wagner sounded support for Gold during a media summit for Team USA in Park City, Utah, in September.

“Taking a step back and actually taking time to focus on herself, as an athlete that’s one of the hardest decisions to make,” she said. “It really is just a statement to how strong that girl is, and people don’t give her enough credit for that.”

“To be able to take a step back during your Olympic season, that just goes to show how much she needed a change,” Wagner said of Gold. “Whenever anyone is ever willing to get help to fix their lives, that’s admirable and never something that should be questioned.”

• Reporting by JOHNNY DODD