By Kimi Puntillo
Crowd chants Go Michelle! Go U.S.A.!
Olympian Michelle Kwan, middle, clowns around on the torchbearer shuttle bus with Shiri Gumbiner, left, and Jenna Recupero on the way to their starting points on the relay.
FLAG WAVING CROWDS CHEERED, Go Michelle! Go U.S.A.!
as Kwan, who hopes to capture her first Olympic gold medal in Salt Lake
City, ran down a road illuminated by the flame and white lights hung from
three-story high palm trees.
Among the spectators were friends and family, including Kwans sister Karen, who sprinted alongside her younger sibling during her 0.2 of a mile relay leg in Beverly Hills.
INSPIRED BY OTHERS
A first-time Olympic Torchbearer, Kwan said she was most impressed by her fellow flame carriers. Among them was 12-year-old Shari Gumbiner of Brentwood, Calif., representing the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Gumbiner received the Olympic Flame from Kwan. Gumbiner, a lover of figure skating, is battling leukemia, which she contracted after chemotherapy for bone cancer.
Michelle and I do triple jumps which is nothing compared to what you guys
U.S. Figure Skating Champion
We shared stories on the torchbearer shuttle, telling each
other who we are and what we went through to get here, said Kwan,
a winner of six medals at World Championships. I felt like
Im Michelle and I do triple jumps, which is nothing compared to what
you guys do. Shari has the strength of a 300-pound weightlifter.
TORCH HALF HER SIZE
Cradling the Olympic Torch in her arms after her run, Kwan expressed surprise at its size. I saw Muhammad Ali light the cauldron in Atlanta on TV and it didnt look so big. Its half the size of my body! exclaimed the 5-foot-2-inch world champion.
Kwan, 21, plans to keep the 33-inch long torch as a memento. It will be something Ill treasure, something my grandchildren will be able to touch.
Michelle Kwan carries the Olympic Flame days after winning the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships.
run with the torch comes on the heels of winning her sixth national title
at U.S. Figure Skating Championships last Saturday. She scored two perfect
6.0s in her long program after an uneven season in which she split with
her longtime coach, Frank Carroll, in October.
Kwan ran with the torch on
Santa Monica Boulevard on a day packed with celebrity torchbearers that
included fellow figure skaters Timothy Goebel, who also made the Olympic
team, and Angela Nikodinov. Other Olympians included Carl Lewis, Maurice
Greene and Julie Foudy.