SOCHI, Russia – Some figure skaters may prefer to narrow the competition down to just themselves and their performance, feeling those are enough challenges.
Whatever happens outside that tiny window of opportunity, which is out of their control anyway, may not be worth their attention.
Gracie Gold enjoys peering outside that frame, no matter how potentially daunting the view.
RELATED: Who is Gracie Gold?
When she does that here, at her first Winter Olympics, Gold spies the likes of Korean world champion and 2010 gold medalist Yuna Kim; Japan's 2010 silver medalist and two-time world champ Mao Asada; two-time world silver medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy; and Russian prodigy Yulia Lipnitskaya, who is the recent European champ.
Lipnitskaya was the sensation of the Olympic figure-skating team competition in front of the home crowd, winning both the short and long programs, the latter with Gold second.
Yet, Gold welcomes the challenges and relishes watching how they'll play out beginning in the ladies short program Wednesday. Thursday's free skate will then determine if Gold is worth her name in precious medal.
"Yulia is a machine and she is an excellent skater," Gold said Saturday. "We've all seen it.
"But when it comes down to competition, it's not always about who the best skater is. It's about who skates the best in that competition. It's all about who's going to put out that best performance."
Gold, coming off her first U.S. title last month in Boston, feels that could be her after returning to Sochi from a training session in Austria.
"We're just going to try to beat her at her own game, on home turf," Gold said of Lipnitskaya, "and just leave everything on the ice . . . I've placed above her before with a great skate and I just have to bring my 'A' game."
Such an approach is more about sweat than sequins.
She added that watching the men's competition helped enforce that feeling, and she'll carry that knowledge onto the ice banking on its benefit.
"It was about who was able to lay down and collect enough points," she said.
Gold, a Springfield, Mo., native who was sixth in the 2013 worlds, has been training with Frank Carroll in El Segundo, Calif., since September. Among Carroll's many top skaters were four-time world champ Michelle Kwan and 2009 world champ and 2010 Olympic champ Evan Lysacek.
His influence certainly fuels Gold's confidence here.
"It's really great to have an experienced guy on your journey and Frank has definitely been a rock in these last months," Gold said.
"He's never surprised or thrown off by anything . . . Everything he says is the same. Everything he does is the same. And he's so calm. He's a really good influence."
She is also coming off that strong performance last weekend, in which only Lipnitskaya was better.
That also whet her appetite for the contest ahead.
"It was a great opportunity to grow as a competitor and just have another Olympic experience, have another chance at an Olympic medal, which we earned together," she said.
Gold's mission now is to continue that drive back to the podium.
"This season, 2014, for me has been all about momentum," she said. "It's going to be able to take that long program and earn a medal.''
Tresolini writes for The News Journal of Wilmington, Del.