Behind every good kid is a great mom, so they say. And in U.S. figure skaters Ashley Wagner’s and Gracie Gold’s life, that has certainly proven to be true.
Long before Wagner’s infamous “disappointed face” went viral and Gold was considered Sochi’s sweetheart, the Olympic athlete’s mothers, Melissa James and Denise Gold, were there every step of the way, encouraging, raising and coaching these young women, their precious daughters, to reach this incredible moment of accomplishment in their young lives.
“To be here, in Sochi, and not have too many gray hairs, this is just amazing,” Wagner’s mom, Melissa James, told GoodMorningAmerica.com of her daughter’s success.
Even when Wagner, 22, was unable to hide her incredible feelings of disappointment at placing fourth in her Olympic debut in the ladies short program, all her mom had to say today about the facial expression heard ’round the world was: “But can you imagine how beautiful she still looked?”
Forever proud of her “feisty, spirited child,” James says Wagner’s passion was always in skating, thriving so well on the ice at such a young age that their family would often try encouraging other sports she wasn’t quite as good at, like basketball and tennis, “to even it out a bit” for their “fiercely competitive” daughter.
“Within the family, we tried to put her through the ropes in other sports, but all she ever wanted to do was skate,” James explained.
The same could be said for Gracie Gold, 18, who, according to her mother, Denise Gold, started only as a “recreational skater,” in her childhood, but eventually began phasing out her other sports interests to focus on her favorite talent, one that has obviously paid off.
“From the time she first started to skate we’d go to the grocery store and people would ask if she was a dancer or gymnast, but as soon as she told them she was a figure skater, people would ask if she was going to the Olympics,” Gold said of her now national championship-winning daughter.
Fast forward to actually being part of Team USA in Sochi, Gold says watching her daughter’s dreams come true is simply amazing.
“I’m so proud of her,” she explained. “I am proud of the person she is, and this is such a wonderful opportunity.”
But not only is it a wonderful opportunity for the athletes, it is for these moms as well. After years of their hard work behind-the-scenes helping raise their young champions, both James and Gold are now taking part in P&G’s “Thank You Mom” campaign, which celebrates all their unseen sacrifices it took to raise an Olympian.
“I’m sitting here getting my nails done with an American flag on them,” James said from the P&G Family Home in Sochi, adding, “This ain’t so bad.”
And although the journey to fight for Olympic gold is certainly not one without its hardships, both moms agree getting to watch their daughters compete on the world stage has been completely been worth it.
“I think every step of the way I just fed off Ashley’s energy,” said James. “As moms we’re there for the ups and the downs, and if it’s not your child’s dream, then you’re in the wrong sport.”
“We’re very grateful,” Gold agreed. “It is thrilling. To be here and see people from all over the world, it’s so emotional.”