E!: Your gold medal skate still brings tears to my eyes. What do you remember about that time?
TL: Definitely those Olympic performances go to the top of the list. It was just a surreal moment. For me to be able to go to those Olympics, I was the reigning world champion but I had just a month before I lost my title at Nationals and for me, there was a lot of uncertainty and so much pressure also for someone who was just 15 and really didn’t know how or what to expect showing up at my first Olympics. To go out and skate the way that I did, which was the way that I trained, that’s how every skater hopes to perform. I remember my leg shaking as they called my name and that had never happened before. I thought, “Oh, what do I do now? I need them!” But to then be able to skate the way that I did, I’ll always remember not so much winning, but the moment the music ended and I was running across the ice, just the relief that I felt, the joy that I felt to skate well and have a good showing but do it in front of millions of people at an Olympic Games.
E!: You were so young and just 15 when you competed at the Olympics. You mentioned there was so much pressure. In what ways do you think that athletes can best protect their mental health while competing?
TL: I think that’s what Simone Biles brought to light. I think a lot of athletes, especially when I competed, didn’t know we had a choice. That’s the great thing that Simone did and I think in the future. you hope that athletes will be able to speak up for themselves to make sure that their feelings and their thoughts are being heard. If there’s too much pressure or too many expectations on them, then they need to make the right choices for their mental health. I think that your team that surrounds you needs to be really aware of this. They’re the ones that know you best and I think there should be a constant conversation that you’re checking in with your athletes to not only see how well they’re physically performing or if they’re hurt or repairing injuries, but also don’t forget about the mental aspect of it and how important mental health is.