Gracie Gold seeking treatment for depression, eating disorder

Two-time United States figure skating champion Gracie Gold has withdrawn from her scheduled Grand Prix Series events next month, citing ongoing treatment for "depression, anxiety and an eating disorder.''

"It saddens me deeply to sit out this Grand Prix Series, but I know it is for the best,'' Gold said in a statement released to the media late Friday afternoon. "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. 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."

The announcement by Gold, 22, makes it unlikely she would be able to bid for a spot on the U.S. team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Grand Prix results, along with results at world and national championships, are an important factor in team selection.

Gold finished fourth in individual competition at Sochi 2014 and helped the U.S. win a bronze medal in co-ed team competition.

Gold first announced she was taking a break from the sport in September, when she pulled out of a lead-up event in Japan. She said at that time she was seeking professional help for unspecified reasons, hoping it would help her "become a stronger person.''

The Springfield, Illinois, native had been slated to compete in the Cup of China and the Internationaux de France in November. U.S. Olympic team selections -- including three slots for individual women -- will be announced after the national championships in early January.

Gold won nationals in 2014 and 2016, but her form and confidence sagged visibly after placing fourth at the spring 2016 world championships in Boston, where she had led after the short program. Last season, she made a public reference to weight and body image struggles, split with her coach Frank Carroll after finishing sixth at nationals, and subsequently moved to the Detroit area to work with Zoueva and Epstein.

Ashley Wagner, the three-time U.S. champion whose rivalry with Gold has warmed into a friendship over the last year, praised Gold for her decision last month at the U.S. Olympic media summit.

"Taking a step back and actually taking time to focus on herself - as an athlete, that is one of the hardest decisions to make,'' Wagner told reporters. "It really is just a statement to how strong that girl is. People don't give her enough credit for that.

"She was talking to [fellow skater] Adam (Rippon) and I before she decided to take a step back. It was a really good conversation, her head was in the place where she wanted to feel better. It's beyond her being an athlete at this point, it's about how she is as a person. The fact that she's able to acknowledge that she needs to get back to a level sense of self takes a lot of guts.''