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Fields of Gold is arguably Michelle's most beautiful and inspiring programs. Choreographed by Sarah Kawahara, it is Michelle's exhibition program during the 2001/02 season. After the Olympics, some say that Fields of Gold, known among fans as "FOG," is a bittersweet program. But FOG has nothing to do with Gold, as in a gold medal. The program is a tribute to lost lives and unfulfilled dreams, and about Michelle's love for the sport of skating. FOG debuted at "A Skating Tribute: The Legacy of the 1961 US World Figure Skating Team," an event which honored the 18 skaters and coaches who perished on their way to the 1961 World Championships. The plane crash affected Michelle because her former coach, Frank Carroll, was coached by Maribel Vinson Owen, a skating legend who was killed in the crash. Early in FOG is a move that Maribel performed. The program took on even more meaning, as this event took place in New York on October 5, just weeks after 9/11. Michelle chose to skate this program at this event because, "A lot of people chose music that had some meaning behind it. I chose Eva Cassidy; she died of cancer, died young before her prime. So with the '61 skaters, there's similarity to that." She also said, "There's a link between the skaters who died in their prime and Cassidy. It was something meaningful, and the lyrics were amazing. It was everything all rolled into one."

This program was also once described to me by other skating fans as signifying Michelle's love for skating, going back to her childhood. Moves such as the small hops and simply gliding down the ice in long strokes. Even the first costume for the program looked similar to those she wore before her "transformation" prior to the '95/'96 season when she won Nationals and Worlds for the first time.

The program was skated beautifully throughout the season. A few skates into the season, the costume changed to a beautiful pink beaded, one shoulder dress, which was more sophisticated than the previous one. This costume had previously been used for her short program at 2001 Skate Canada, and remains one of my favorite costumes of Michelle's. At Nationals, the costume changed a final time, to a gold, sleeveless beaded dress, depicting the name of the program, Fields of Gold.

It was the next performance of the program where this wonderful, simple program became so much more. Just one day after she did not win the Olympic gold medal, she still chose to skate to a program named "Fields of Gold" wearing a gold costume. She certainly could have skated to another program, or wear another costume, but she courageously stepped onto the ice in her gold costume. This poignant performance of FOG will always be remembered by those who watched. It was the most memorable performance that night. Halfway through the program, she started crying. She went into her final pose, and the camera showed a closeup of her face. The dichotomy of the tears on her face and her gentle smile was heart wrenching. A week later, she looked back on this performance, "The crowd was so supportive, so loving, and it was amazing. And, in the middle of my performance, I started crying, because I can...there was so many emotions, you know? I love skating because it’s such a beautiful sport, so soothing, so comforting. That night I felt like, this is why I love it, this is why I’m here." She was not alone in her tears, however, as there wasn't a dry eye in the arena, or among those watching at home. Seeing her skate this program, it was clear that there is more to skating than Olympic gold medals---this program is what skating is all about.

Michelle doesn't usually skate to the same program on Champions on Ice as she does during the season, but for a long tour, Michelle said a program needs to be "something you really enjoy," so it doesn't go dry after dozens of performances. Each night, fans around the country are treated to this touching number. When she takes her opening pose, the crowd grows silent, and you can hear a pin drop. As she goes into her final pose, the crowd continually gives her a standing ovation.

Michelle skating to FOG brought attention and recognition to the singer, Eva Cassidy. Many Michelle fans were introduced to Eva's voice for the first time, and became fans of this gifted singer. Unfortunately, Eva Cassidy died of melanoma in 1996, the year Michelle won her first World title, at the young age of 33. Two years after Eva's death, a compilation album containing some of Eva's previous songs was released. This album, Songbird, contains Fields of Gold. A friend of Michelle's mother gave Michelle Songbird, and Michelle said she loved the whole album. She always liked the song Fields of Gold, but hearing Eva's version, she knew she had to skate to it. She also said, "For me to relate to, it's much easier to use a woman's voice."

Recently, the album Songbird went Gold, which means it has sold 500,000 units. The first Gold record was given to Eva's parents by the record company, Blix Street Records. The second Gold record was awarded to Michelle for the recognition she brought to Eva's music around the world, especially during her Olympic performance. Michelle was presented the Gold record backstage at the Baltimore Champions on Ice stop, where she also met Eva’s parents, Barbara and Hugh Cassidy, and other friends and family for the first time.

On a personal note, Fields of Gold is my favorite exhibition program of Michelle's, and possibly my all time favorite Michelle program. I've seen FOG live 5 times..once at 2002 Nationals, once at 2003 Worlds, and three times on COI. I could watch FOG over and over. Everytime I watch this program, I find a new detail, something else to fall in love with. Michelle feels the same way. She said recently, "At different times, I skate it in a different emotion. It always keeps on evolving."

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Where Skated (and Costumes):

A Skating Tribute: The Legacy of the 1961 U.S. World Figure Skating Team
2001 Masters
2001 Skate America
2001 Skate Canada
2001 Hershey's Kisses Figure Skating Challenge
2002 Grand Prix Final
2002 Nationals
2002 Olympics
2002 Worlds
2002 COI Tour
2002 Great American Figure Skating Challenge
2002 Skate America
Hong Kong Disney on Ice Jungle Book Tour promotion (2002)
2003 Nationals
2003 Worlds
Photos © Jenny, Amy Salamey, and Heather Winfield

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Skaters' tribute coincides with New York's own tribulations

Fields of Gold article from

Blix Street Records Presents Michelle Kwan with Gold Record for Eva Cassidy’s ‘Songbird’ Album

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Photo Gallery--Fields of Gold

Photo Gallery--2002 Nationals

Photo Gallery--2003 Worlds

Links to Other Photo Pages--Fields of Gold

Being presented the Gold record by Blix Street Records President Bill Straw

Holding the Gold record, with Eva's parents and Bill Straw

Smiling, holding the Gold record, with Barbara and Hugh Cassidy and Bill Straw

With Eva's family, Bill Straw, and the Gold record

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You can watch Fields of Gold, as skated at the Olympics, in real video format courtesy of Moyesii and housed on MaryJo's site. The clip is 12.9 MB. Also at MaryJo's site are the 2003 Worlds, 2002 Nationals, and 2001 Masters versions of Fields of Gold.

There is also an wmv, 7.6 MB clip of the program at Go to the video section of her site for the link.

Also from, you can watch FOG from "A Skating Tribute." Go to the Michelle Kwan video section of her site for the links (it's split into two parts, each about 7MB.)

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