10 years ago this week, January 3-11, 1998, the 1998 Nationals took place at the Corestates Center in Philadelphia. 1998 Nationals was the first real competition I attended. There were so many things that made it special to me. Back then, I actually wrote detailed reports each day on my site (which was only 6 months old at that time.) I thought I would relive each day on my site when we hit the 10 day anniversary of each practice/short/long/etc of Michelle's. Hopefully you'll enjoy this trip back down memory road.

January 5

10 years ago today, January 5, was the first ladies practice at Nationals at the Convention Center Practice ice. I had been looking forward to this day for probably 2 years, when we first ordered our tickets. Maybe some of you were there too, but we didn't end up meeting until a few years later? :)

The morning practice was for the short program. The frenzy for this was high. For both Michelle & Tara's groups, there were so many reporters & cameras, focusing only on them. Security was higher than it had been the first 2 days. It was also the biggest crowds for any of the practice sessions I attended so far. Tara's group was first, and Michelle's group went second.

Here is what I wrote at probably 1am in the morning after that practice:

Michelle had a great practice! When it was her turn for a runthrough of her short, they didn't even play her music. However, later on, she skated her complete program. She landed the triple lutz/double toe, triple flip, and double axel. She also landed a few triple loop jumps, but I didn't see any triple loop/triple loop combos. Her spins, footwork, and spirals were fabulous.

Before the end of the practice, I ran over to try to get an autograph and picture. She was whisked away from the rink by security. First, they said that she was taking off her skates. Then, they said that she would not stand there and sign autographs...that she might sign some as she walked. Then, they said that she might sign by the door. So, most of the people ran over there. But, I decided to stay there. I figured she had to come out that way, and maybe she would sign for a few people. Then, the security guard whispered to us that she would come out and sign...but don't say anything because he didn't want a commotion. So, finally, she came out. There was such a huge mob, and I was scared that some of the little kids would get crushed because everyone was pushing. I have to say that Michelle is even more beautiful in person than on television. I finally got up there to get her autograph (I brought my copy of this month's International Figure Skating Magazine, which she is on the cover.) While she was signing, I told her that I have a website on her, and that it was picked in the February issue of the "Web" magazine as being the best Michelle Kwan site on the Internet. She said, "Oh really? That's exciting." I asked if I could have a quick picture, and she said sure! It was so exciting! (I later saw that they showed this on the news!) I wished her luck, and she said thank you. She was so nice. (For example, there is a rule that there is no flash photography at all...even when no one is skating. Someone took a picture with her, and said that the flash might go off. She said, oh, that's fine, although I think the security guard was upset at that.) She stayed until everyone that wanted an autograph (and there were a LOT of people there) received one. She then left surrounded by security, and most of the photographers and reports left after that. This made my week...and the competition didn't even start yet!

Around 9pm was the second ladies practice session, this one was for the long program. Here are my thoughts from that practice (I think I was getting tired of writing the report, so I wrote less on this practice!)

Michelle's practice wasn't as good as the morning practice. She did a complete runthrough of her program, but she had a fallout on her triple lutz. All of her other jumps were landed cleanly. However, in the runthrough, she did not land a combination jump. Again, her spins were fabulous, her footwork was great, and that spiral...just breathtaking! When she was done, she got the biggest applause, with people screaming for her! Later, she landed some triple lutz/double toe combo...but, again, no triple loop/triple loop, or triple toe/triple toe combinations. She didn't seem as happy with this practice, however. After the practice, she signed autographs once again. I got some more pictures of her...I can't wait to see how they come out!

Ah, the days where we didn't immediately know what pics looked like with digital cameras. If it was now, I would have had a million pics from the week (as it is, I took something like over 30 rolls), and loads of Michelle pics (and way better than I ended up getting too.) But, back then I only had my regular camera, and I wasn't as good a photographer, either. ;) (AND, my scanner wasn't too great, I should rescan these sometime!) So, with all that pre-praise, here are my pics from these practice sessions (click on the pic for the full version):

mk_face mk_smile mk_with_coach mk_sign

Also, I made clips of the local news coverage of Nationals (it's funny looking at how my local news & sportscasters have changed, or not, in 10 years.) Here are 2 videos from January 5 about the first ladies practices (uploaded to sendspace):

WCAU News - (9MB, large wmv file) Clip shows Michelle skating & signing autographs. Someone didn't do enough research, because in the opening title, there's a pic of Tara & Michelle...except it's a picture of Karen, not Michelle (not the first or last in a long line of silly mistakes from local reporters)

KYW News - (5MB, large wmv file) Clip starts out about the unusually hot weather (it was in the 60s) causing problems on the temp ice at the convention center (with footage from Todd's press conference), and then shows Michelle & Tara on the practice ice.

Finally, check out my my full report from January 5.

January 6

Today I saw my first competition ( mens short - Todd was awesome. I'm keeping most of this memory lane about Michelle, so if you want to read what I thought about the mens short, you can read my full report, which I'll link to at the end of this post.) I remember with ordering the tickets 2 years in advance we were surprised to not be closer than 6th row. But actually sitting in our seats, we loved them (anytime I've been in the arena in these 10 years since Nationals, I always look towards our seats and remember the week.) It was the 6th row, but there was only one seat in front of me. Although I was not on the side where the judges sit, I was in the lutz corner, so many of the jumps were right in front of me. I was able to see into the kiss and cry area (as long as the cameras weren't blocking my view), and the announcers.

So, now, back to Michelle! For some reason, I only attended the ladies short practice at the main arena. I know there was a long program practice later in the day, but since my report doesn't mention it, I must not have gone? I honestly don't remember missing any Michelle practices other than one (and I'll write about that when we get to it), so unless it was the same time as the mens competition (and I don't think it was), we had to have been dead tired to go home and miss a practice.

Oh well, here was my report about Michelle's practice:

First, I attended the ladies short program practice. All of the ladies were in the practices today. The first group that went was Michelle Kwan's group. Michelle did not have a great practice. She did a complete runthrough of her program with music today, but she fell on the triple flip. She still got a huge response from the crowd. The next times that she tried the triple flip, she fell. The third time she did it, she touched down. After that, she landed it a few times. She landed the triple lutz/double toe combo a few times, and landed the triple loop, connecting steps, double toe combo twice. Her spins and footwork were great as usual, and her spiral still gives me the chills. It looks better in person! Overall, though, it was not a good practice, and she didn't look happy. On the other hand, Tonia Kwiatkowski had a great practice! She fell out of one jump that I saw, but her runthrough was great. She skated the best I have seen in a long time, and she looks extremely happy. (In other Tonia news, she was on a local sports show and said that she also believes that Michelle and Tara were locks for the first two spots, and that a number of skaters are competing for that spot. She also said that after retiring from amateur skating, she would like to commentate.)

Here are 2 pics from the first ladies practice at the main arena (CoreStates Center. BTW, that was 3 names ago for the current Wachovia Center. It's amazing how much can change in 10 years.) Click on the pic for the full version:

mk_prac_start mk_prac_core

Two local news clips today about Michelle. I apologize for the quality of these 2 videos. We had tapes going in both VCRs taping the various news, and I still couldn't catch everything (along with wishing I had a digital camera back then, how I wish we had Tivo & DVRs then! It would have made things SO much easier!!) Of course the station that showed the most Michelle stuff was the one in the bad VCR. So, the quality isn't the best (I made them smaller wmvs to try to help with the quality), but I still find it enjoyable. Both of these are uploaded to sendspace:

This first clip is about Michelle's injury. This clip shows Michelle practicing from the 5th (you'll see they promoted her throughout the news.) Also included in this clip is footage from the press conference held today.

WCAU News - Michelle's Injury (14MB, small wmv)

This second clip is a bit different. During Nationals, it was announced that Michelle, Tara & Nicole would be endorsing Campbells Soup. They would all appear in a commercial together, and individually on the soup labels. The announcement for this endorsement was made on January 6 at a press event that only Nicole attended (you'll see why the Campbells Soup guy says Michelle & Tara weren't there. Then you will groan about what he said Campbells was going to do about it. ;)) Even though they only talk to Nicole, the clip still shows the HUGE (I mean, way taller than Nicole) soup can with Michelle's pic, and I still think it's a fun clip.

WCAU News - Campbells Soup Announcement (8MB, small wmv)

Check out my Campbells Soup endorsement page from my site, if you want to learn more about the endorsement.

Finally, check out my my full report from January 6.

January 7

I seem to have only gone to one practice again today, the short program practice. For some reason, though, I think the LP practice was the same time as the pairs short, and that's why I missed it? I could be wrong, but I think that's the case. Maybe before this week is over I'll dig out some of my paper work from the week to see if I can find the times for these practices I seem to be missing!

Michelle's group went last today. After the first group went at the Convention Center, I was getting Andrea Gardiner's autograph. I know this is all about Michelle, but all of the skaters, coaches, etc were all so nice throughout the week, posing for pics & signing autographs. Of all the Nationals I've attended, the setup at the Convention Center was the best for the fans to get pics & autographs, by far. Anyway, here what I wrote about our first Michelle sighting of the day during practice:

Also, while I was waiting for Andrea, Michelle was standing behind the barrier stretching. She did not stop smiling (good sign!) Then, this little girl went under the ropes, and went over to Michelle, who had her back turned. When Michelle turned around, she smiled (even bigger than before), and rubbed her on the head. She signed the girl's program, and the people watching applauded this (usually, skaters don't sign before the practice.) It was adorable.

I still remember this, it WAS totally adorable. If I saw it today, though, I'd probably be scared about how someone, even a little kid, could get past security like that (and the security guard, after the fact, did not seem happy about it.) Sad that I have to feel that way.

Later, it's Michelle's group on the practice ice:

The final group was Group B...which included Michelle Kwan and Tonia Kwiatkowski. Michelle's practice wasn't as bad as yesterday's, but it wasn't great. In her runthrough, she fell on the triple flip, but landed the triple lutz/double toe and double axle perfectly. After the runthrough, she tried the flip again, and she fell. The third time, she landed it. She went on to land the flip at least 3 times during the session.

Before I started going back reading my reports, I forgot about how Michelle's practices went during the week. I remembered that they weren't great, but I didn't remember her having so much trouble on the flip. It's probably what added to the drama of the next day.

Here are my pics from that practice (click on the pic for the full version):

mk_wait mk_stand

The video clip for today is from our local sports channel. The interesting thing is that the station had just started about 3 months earlier (they just had a 10 year anniversary thing in the month of October, did they ever mention the skating? NO, of course not. Ah well.) I don't know if it's because the station was new, the fact that the station tapes their shows inside the CoreStates Center, or what, but they had TONS of coverage from Nationals. Several shows (most of which no longer are on the air) were all about skating and/or only had figure skating related guests. They called it figure skating week. Since then, I don't remember them having a week for anything not related to the local sports teams. I'm assuming they aren't going to have gymnastics week when the trials are here later this year, either.

They had a show where they had several guests talking about the skating each night. Another show, called Spotlite, would have the host interviewing several guests during the show, and this week, they were all skating related. On January 7, Christine Brennan was on talking about Michelle & Tara. She had a lot of nice things to say about Michelle (though after the fact, it's always tough to hear about how if Michelle's clean, she'll win in Nagano.) Clips of Michelle wearing white while practicing at Lake Arrowhead & from COI are shown. Uploaded to sendspace:

Spotlite - Christine Brennan talks about Michelle (9MB, small wmv file)

Finally, check out my my full report from January 7 .

January 8

THE BIG DAY!! The first day of competition for the ladies. 10 years today, Michelle gave the world one of the most beautiful short programs ever. Rachmaninoff. Perfection. But early in the day, no one could have imagined what was yet to come.

I had been looking forward to this day for, well, forever it seemed! And then Michelle's injury happened, and along with the excitement & normal nervousness came a certain sense of wondering. Would she compete? Would she be competition ready?

A few quotes from my report from earlier in the week, before any of Michelle's practices began. Along with the questions from before Nationals, these two incidents put just that little bit of worry in my head that I didn't want there, but I just couldn't shake all week, until the program started.

On January 3, the first day that we went to practices, we ran into Frank during the mens practice. From my report (read the full report here):

Also, in one of the exciting moments during the practice, I saw Frank Carroll, Michelle Kwan's coach, who was there coaching one of his other students, Michael Chack. I told him that I have a Michelle Kwan Fan Page, and that she has many fans. When I asked how she is doing, he shook his hand saying "so-so". That *really* upset me. I told him that she has many fans rooting her on, and he said thank you. I guess we will have to wait and see how she does on January 8th, the day of the ladies short program.

Then, on January 4, at another practice:

Also, I got an autograph from and took a picture with Carol Heiss Jenkins and Frank Carroll (who seemed in better spirits today than yesterday.) One of my friends asked Frank when Michelle would be arriving, and he said she was already here, and would be in the practice tomorrow. I was so happy. But, he also told her the same thing about Michelle...that she is so-so. I'll see for myself tomorrow!

So, now fast forward back to the day of the short program. There was a very early warmup/practice for the ladies (it was probably around 7 or 8 am, since the competition started at noon.) We had been running on fumes by this point of the week, so we slept in a bit and didn't go to that practice. When we got to the arena for the short program, we found out Michelle had not shown up for the practice. There were rumors that she had withdrawn from the event, something no one could seem to confirm or deny. So, everyone around me was on edge, not knowing if she would be competiting until seeing her step on the ice during the warmups.

Here is what I wrote in my report about the competition before Michelle:

I was upset to hear that Michelle Kwan did not attend the morning warmup. You can not imagine how nervous I was before this competition. I couldn't eat, I couldn't breathe, until it was over. Since it was on TV, I won't really write too much about it. Tonia was up first, and she did great. It was not as exciting as Nicole's, but still great. She was crying after, and so were many of the spectators. Unfortunately, Sydne Vogel fell. She is in 9th place. Nicole was amazing! I am so glad that she didn't leave her jumps on the practice ice. After Tara landed her combo, I thought everything else would be fine. Like everyone else in the arena, I was in shock. The arena went silent. I think we were still in shock during the next competitor's performance. I became even more nervous for Michelle after that. I don't think I saw Tara fall on that jump in practice, but Michelle had lots of problems with that same jump...would Michelle make the same mistake?

I wrote earlier about my seat. I was in the lutz corner opposite the judges, 6th row, but only one person in front of me. When you watch any footage from the event, it's the section where the Yoplait yogurt ad was on the boards (I don't think there were more than one, but if so, just remember I was on the side opposite the judges.) Most of the short program solo jumps were done RIGHT in front of me, including both Tara and Michelle's. So, I saw Tara's unexpected fall right in front of me. I mean, right there. It really shook me up because Michelle would be doing that same jump in the same spot. What if it was the ice? What if I sneezed right before she skated and threw her off (my brain works overtime too often .;)) Just seeing another top competitor mess up kind of put us on notice, I think.

Let me quote from the report about Michelle:

In the warnmup, she was landing the triple lutz/double toe combo, but not perfectly. When Michelle took the ice, the people behind me were commenting on what a beautiful presence she has on the ice. First up...the combo...landed perfectly! Next up, the double axle...beautifully done. Then, the triple flip was coming up. I was thinking...please land it! She did the jump right in front of me...and it was landed great! I wanted to jump out of my seat then! I was on my feet (and so was the rest of the crowd) during her final spin. The program was just breathtaking! She did a beautiful, almost perfect performance. I was crying, screaming, and clapping my hands so hard, that they became numb. Watching it on television can not even convey the emotions of the program, or even crowd. It was amazing. She was showered with flowers (including mine). When her scores came up....only one word can describe what I was feeling...AAAH!

That's pretty much the only word I can STILL think of to describe it all! I can try forever to try to put it into words, and I just can't. I do remember thinking, oh, I hope she gets some 6s for that. And then to see those marks. First the tech scores came up, one 5.8, the rest 5.9s. Good. Then the presentation marks come up, and you just see this whole line of 6.0s. It almost doesn't seem real. I had never seen anything like it, and didn't really expect to see anything like it again. Who knew we'd be seeing even more the next day? Or numerous others throughout her career. Just amazing. Perfection. And any injury worries got thrown out the window and into the garbage. That's the day I learned to never, ever doubt Michelle Kwan.

Here are 2 pictures from the short program (Click on the pic for the full version):

mk_sh_start mk_sh_spiral

My first local video for today is an interview with Michelle on Spotlite, the same show I mentioned in yesterday's post. The interview was taped on January 6, after her practice at the main arena & press conference. I was so excited to see that she was going to be interviewed (you'll see I include the promo for it from the day before in the clip), and I still enjoy it. The host is one of my favorites. He always sticks up for skating (his wife was a skater) AND Michelle. This clip also incudes both of the skating clips from the CB clip I posted for January 7 (the practicing in white & the performance from COI) as well as footage from her practice on the main arena on January 6. Pretty good quality. Uploaded to sendspace:

Michelle interview on Spotlite (38MB, large wmv file)

This second video is from the same show. They interviewed Tonia K earlier in the program after her short program. She had some nice things to say about Michelle, so I had to make a clip! (Should be an easy download, it's not even 1MB):

Tonia K talking about Michelle on Spotlite (1MB, small wmv)

I don't think I need to upload Rachmaninoff. I'm sure we all have it on tape and the computer (not to mention in our minds!) I'll just link to a video of it on youtube, which include her scores. Watch Rach on youtube.

Finally, check out my my full report from January 8.

January 9

Today was my last day to see any practices. I loved the competition, of course, but I think going to practices at Nationals is REALLY what got me addicted to attending competitions. So much fun to watch. Still, we only went to one ladies practice today again, skipping the morning practice. Clearly I don't know what was going on with us. Hello!? How could I have missed so many of Michelle's practices? Tired, cold, whatever, who cares...it's Michelle! Anyway, here's what I wrote about the last practice session I saw:

Today I only caught the last group of the afternoon ladies practice, and then the pairs long program. There was also a morning practice, and all I heard was that Michelle Kwan and Nicole Bobek did good, but Tara had a so-so practice, which included a fall.

When I got to the practice rink, the second group was almost done, so we just waited by the curtain area to watch the skaters come in. Angela came first, and was very sweet by signing autographs and taking pictures. Michelle was next, with a huge smile on her face, and we all congratulated her. Same with Nicole. We knew Tara was coming next, because the security guard had jump over the ropes, and run to the door to escort her in. She went by us pretty fast, but she was still smiling. Both Tonia Kwiatkowski (who was in the earlier practice) and Amber Corwin did not come to the practice. It was obviously a jam-packed session, and the most "big name" skaters on the ice together during the whole week. It was impossible to watch them all at the same time. I watched Michelle a lot of the time, but I did watch Nicole, Tara, and some of Angela's runthrough. I also watched them during the time Michelle talked with her coach (which was a lot.) Other than Angela, none of the skaters did a complete runthrough.

And, here's how Michelle's practice went:

Last up (since Tonia wasn't there...by the way, this is the order for the free skate, with Amber skating after Tara, and Tonia skating last) was Michelle. She didn't do a complete runthrough either, and she skipped some of her jumps (I assume it was at least the toe and salchow, because her doctor told her to do only one a day of each.) On her combination, the triple loop/double toe, she double footed the last jump. Everything else was great. She fell on a jump (the flip, I think...I caught it at the last second), but landed it on her second try. All in all, it was a good practice for all the ladies, and, as always, they all stayed and signed autographs for the fans. Tomorrow is the big night...the ladies final. I can't wait! I hope everyone skates a clean program.

I also remember at this point in the week I was getting sad because the week was almost over. It was going by WAY too fast! Of course I was also both excited & nervous for the next day, too!

Here are my pics from that practice (click on the pic for the full version):

mk_prac mk_land

Since I don't have any video clips for today, I thought I'd post a few from before the actual competition started. First, here are 2 local commercials for Nationals with Michelle:

Local ad to attend (2MB) This ad shows several skaters with clips from the 97 Proam that took place in the same arena

Comcast ad for Nats (1MB) This one only shows Michelle.

Finally, this is a show that was broadcast on our local sports channel (the one that declared it figure skating week) about a month before Nationals (at the end it said it was sponsored by Lifetime, so who knows, maybe it was shown elsewhere too?) It was an hour long show, but I edited it down to this clip that just has anything and everything with Michelle. So the edits might be weird sometimes, they'll be talking, you'll see Michelle, then it'll cut away (since they weren't talking about anything having to do with Michelle, but showed her, so I wanted to include it.) The majority of the clip is an interview with Michelle at Lake Arrowhead. There's also footage of her practicing with Frank, looks like it is mostly Rach that she was working on (some of this practice footage is in other clips I uploaded earlier this week.) Frank also talks about how special Michelle is, and they both talk about their relationship & how they train. There's also a few clips from the 97 proam I mentioned earlier. The clip ends with a few of Michelle's bloopers from the interview. If you don't mind my editing, lol, I really recommend this clip.

CSN - Chasing the Dream - 12-12-97 (21MB, large wmv file)

Check out my screencaps from this program

Finally, check out my my full report from January 9 .

January 10

Be prepared to use your mouse clicking fingers a lot for this day. This is the most pics & vids I have posted in any of the posts (probably more here than in all the others combined.) You have been warned!

Before I get to Perfection, part 2, here's a MK related encounter I had during the free dance, which took place before the ladies long program:

Before the last dance group took the ice, someone spotted Karen Kwan in the audience. I went over to right away. She was very nice (if I am sounded like a broken record, it is because every person I met at Nationals was nice). I asked for her autograph (of course), and I talked with her a little bit. I said that I missed her at Nationals this year (she said thank you), and I asked if she will be competing nationally in the future. She responded, "I'm not sure." I told her that I think it's great that she is going to college, and that I was a freshman this year. We talked a little about that. Then, I told her that I have a page on Michelle, and that it was listed in the "Web" magazine as being the best Michelle Kwan site on the internet (and I happened to have the magazine with me because I had shown it to my friend earlier), and she said "I don't know how you do that! It's so amazing." I also told her that I know someone that has a site on her. I said that she and Michelle have a lot of fans rooting for both of them, and she smiled. Finally, I wished her luck in skating and college, and she thanked me. Then, when I went to tell my friend about Karen, she told me that Johnnie Stiegler and Tim Goebel were sitting right near her (I didn't even look!) That was pretty exciting...and my last "encounter" with a famous skater this week. :-(

So, the free dance comes and goes (no, I don't remember anything about it, sorry, though I did write about it in my full report.) Now, onto the MAIN event, the ladies long. I know I was kind of bouncing around in my seat the whole day until the final group. Unlike the short program, where you get the big skaters scattered throughout, for the long, you have to wait though the, uh, less experienced skaters. For a long time. A very long time. Don't get me wrong, when I got addicted to eligible competitions at this event, one of the things I loved was seeing the skaters I'd never see on TV. But today, waiting for Rach's encore, I probably was a bit antsier (is that a word?) than any other time throughout the week. Apologies to all and any skaters involved.

Here's what I wrote about the start of the event, and something that happened to at least ease the tension early on:

Onto the ladies long program...the big event! It was sold out...19,082 people! (The attendance at this year's Nationals broke a record.) Very exciting. I brought a bear and flowers for Michelle, and flowers for some of the other ladies. The ice was showered with gifts for every skater. Although the "big names" were in the final group, the drama started early. Amy Evidente, the first skater, started her program, but then skated over to the referee. At first, no one knew what was going on. Then, she turned around...the strap on her costume broke! She looked very embarrassed, but laughed. After the referee fixed it, she started her program again, with the crowd behind her. But, at the same point in the program (about 5 seconds in), the same thing happened! Someone got a pin, and fixed it. No more problems with that! Even though she only landed 2 triples, she got a standing ovation. She was in last place before the long, but moved up one spot.

After the first group skated, the rest of the skaters were shown on TV. The competition was ahead of schedule, so the we had to wait a bit for the 2nd group to take the ice, to keep to ABC's live coverage. More time for the nerves to creep in.

The second group comes and goes (we sang Happy Birthday to Andrea. That was cute.) So now, it's time for the final group to take the ice for the warmups. I was on the end seat, so during the warmup, I ran down to the boards and took a few pics (there was no one behind me for that, since there wasn't any seats in the first 4 rows in front of us), and then ran back up. The only pic from Lyra Angelica that I have online is from the warmups.

Now, I just got curious to see how many more pics I took of Michelle at Nationals that I don't have online. I know even without the digital camera, I still took way more than it looks from my site. So, I went digging out the photo album, and found out I have a LOT more pics of Michelle, just like I thought. Some are eh, but some I don't know why I didn't scan them in. So, at some point (maybe tomorrow, maybe in time for the 15th anniversary, haha), I'm going to scan these other pics in. Just a little aside there, lets get back to 10 years ago today...

All the skaters had a good warmup. The electricity in the place at this point was indescribable. Even if you didn't have a fav among the top skaters, everyone was on the edge of their seats waiting. Nicole was up first (great program, standing O), then Tara (ditto on the standing O), then Amber, then Angela.

As Angela went for the kiss and cry, Michelle stepped onto the ice. Let me say now that whatever I wrote in my report cannot convey what it felt like in that arena, before, during, and after the program. It couldn't translate when watching on TV. And I still couldn't put it into words, even though I've had 10 years to try to search for them.

Next up was Michelle Kwan. Again, I was SO nervous. I can't even write about this...it's too hard to express into words. I have watched her performance on television a few times, and you can't get the same feeling as if you were at that arena. Even though the crowd sounded loud on TV, it doesn't even come close to what you felt there. I actually relaxed a little after her first combination. I was worried when she went into the triple salchow (one of the jumps, along with the triple toe loop, that hurts her toe...and she was only aloud by her doctor to do those two jumps once a day), but she landed it perfectly! When she landed the second to last jump, the triple lutz, everyone was screaming. Then, she did the triple toe...the one that gives her toe the most trouble. It is a shame that you couldn't see her face on television! The last two jumps were done right in front of me, so I had a clear view of her expression. She had the hugest smile on her face, especially after the triple toe. Everyone was on their feet during her last spin. Just wonderful! Surprisingly, I wasn't as emotional during her long program as I was with her short program. However, every time I watch it on TV, I get more emotional. Just wonderful! She got eight 6.0s for artistic (what was with that judge that gave her a 5.9?!)

I don't remember breathing much during the program. As I wrote then, it's really a shame that for her final jump, her face is away from the camera (even for the fan video that's out there online, it's from the other side of the rink from me, so all you see is the back of her head.) I'll never forget how her face just lit up. I wanted to stand up right then!

Poor Tonia had to go after that. I always felt so bad for her. As I wrote in my report, the crowd was on her side from the start, and argh, such a shame she fell. We were all teary-eyed after her skate, I still wish we could have sent 4 skaters to the Olympics that year, she deserved to go. *sigh*

After the competition was over, the Olympic bound ladies were interviewed for TV in the kiss and cry. I just saw that I have a pic of that, but not online (yet.) Then it was time for the medal ceremony! But first up, a special award for Michelle:

After the ladies long program, the 1998 Chevrolet Perfect 6.0 Award, which is given to the skater who receives the most 6.0s during the championships, was awarded to Michelle Kwan. In total, she received 15 perfect 6.0s in her two performances...the most ever by one skater in the Nationals!! She was awarded a red convertible! The announcer said that she is finally old enough to drive. When she was given the keys, she skated around like she was driving a car.

This was really cute. They had the car she received in the lobby all week, btw. They also gave her a jacket, but I guess only the car stuck out when I wrote the report. Again, I only have one pic online, but I did take a few more. I also will be posting a vid of this at the end of the report, so don't miss it if you've never seen it!

I really thought that the dance awards was given next, but my report from the day says the ladies went first, then dance. I still don't think that's right, but I shouldn't argue with my 10 year younger self, so I'll just pretend to agree.

Every time awards were given, the podium was moved farther away from the edge of the rink, so I didn't have a good view of it. My mom went to take some pictures at the other end of the rink, so I hope they came out. All of the competitors hugged each other when they got their medals. Michelle skated over to one end of the rink, and signed some autographs, and so did Nicole (and I think Tara, but I couldn't find her), but they were ushered off the ice. Later, the dance couples came out and posed for pictures with their coach (it was cute how each of the dance couples took the picture of another couple with their coach.) All of the couples skated around and took pictures, and signed autographs, but none of them were able to get to everybody because they were forced to leave, too. It was all over. :-( A very exciting evening!

When Michelle was announced, the place went nuts. I'm surprised I didn't lose my voice from screaming so loud for her! After it was all over, we didn't want to leave, but they made us. Something about having to clean and close up. Whatever. ;) Then we ran home and watched it on tape, just to make sure it wasn't all a dream. I actually didn't watch either program on tape too much for a long time, since I wanted to keep it as fresh in my memory, live, as I could.

Now, here are my pics from the long program & medal ceremony (Click on the pic for the full version):

mk_long lady_pod lady_pod2 mic_and_nic
mk_win mk_award mk_med mk_pod
mk_lg_sign mk_with_medal mk_jacket

And now, 14 videos for you to enjoy, including fan vids, clips from the ABC broadcast, and more local news footage. A few of these are actually from Jan 11, but they are recaps of the LP, so I'm including them on the 10th. All of these are uploaded to sendspace.

Short clip from practice earlier in the day, from ABC's broadcast (2MB)

Want to feel the tension? An ABC promo for the broadcast that night, featuring the top 3 ladies (less than 1MB)

Our local ABC station had a live hour long preshow before the ladies long program. Like the program I posted yesterday, I edited this with any and all Michelle clips. Included in the vid: some pre event interview clips, a recap of the short, clips from the Jan 6 press conference, clips from her first practice & signing autographs, a tale of the tape between Michelle & Tara, fans reactions, and Dick Button talking about Michelle. The clip ends with Dick talking about who he's rooting for by saying, "I don't care who wins. Of course I do. But I don't."

WPVI Sat Nationals preshow (18 MB)

Next is the introduction from the ABC broadcast of the LP that talks about Michelle & Tara, with a recap from the short. Also has clips of Nicole & Tonia in a montage at the end of the clip. (6 MB)

The final group's LP warmup, from ABC broadcast (22 MB)

A short clip of Michelle talking to the media backstage after the LP, from ABC broadcast (3 MB)

ABC's interview with the top 3 after the LP. I tried to get these clips as small as possible, so I uploaded the one with just Michelle's part of the interview, sorry! (16 MB)

These next 3 clips are the only ones I didn't make. It's a fan video (don't know who) that I found online a few years back. It was filmed almost directly across from where I sat. The original clip was over 70MB, it had Michelle receiving the Chevy 6.0 award plus the ladies ceremony (until it cut off.) I cut it up into 3 parts:

The first is Michelle receiving the Chevy Perfect 6.0 Award. Really cute! (7 MB)

The next is Michelle being announced during the medal ceremony, and her stepping onto the podium. (5 MB)

This final part is of the top 4 receiving their medals and awards on the podium (36MB)

Now, some news footage.

First, local ABC station's 11pm news, recapping the LP, and talking to fans about the event. Includes one fan discussing why she got the flowers she did for Michelle. (14MB)

Same local ABC station the next day, the morning news. This clip recaps the LP. Also includes footage from the post LP press conference & podium (19 MB)

Another recap from local ABC news, from earlier in the broadcast (3MB)

Final video is from Sunday's Good Morning America. Robin Roberts talks about the LP (8MB)

Like with the short program, I figured I didn't need to upload Lyra Angelica. Watch Lyra on youtube.

Check out my my full report from January 10.

January 11

The end. So sad. I don't really have much to quote or link to from my report, because I didn't write much about the exhibitions. This is part of what I had to say in my last report:

After attending the competitions and the practices, the exhibition was kind of a let down. <snip> I don't have much else to say about the exhibitions. Michelle skated to On My Own, which I love. Everytime I see it (especially in person) it is more breathtaking.

So, let me try to remember anything about that day. As I wrote, the exhibitions were a let down from the full week of practices and competition. Especially since the competition was even more important, with it being the Olympic trials, every jump, step, spin, glide were all SO important to everyone. And the crowd really felt the tension each night, and gave as much as we could back to the skaters. I remember how cool it was to see a time countdown during the first night of competition. I would always glance at it, to see if a skater was going to end over the time limit. During exhibitions, I kept doing the same thing, but the clock wasn't there. During the comp, I'd glance over at the coaches, some were more animated than others (I remember Angela's coach banging the boards when she missed a jump in the LP), but they weren't there today. The waiting for the marks (and then the booing of the judges that usually followed), the watching the skaters in the kiss & cry, hoping they wouldn't have to do much of the crying, all gone. The tension & drama wasn't there. So, of course, the day had a different feel than the whole week. There was also the sadness of waiting for something for 2 years, and then it being all over.

I ran into skaters all week. The last one I saw was Elizabeth Kwon. She won the novice ladies. I saw her signing autographs on the concourse when we were leaving, but I didn't go over to get one myself. Even though I didn't go to the novice event (the only non senior event I attended was the junior mens), one of my Nationals memories will always be of Elizabeth Kwon. Not for anything she did on the ice (I know her exhibition program was cute enough, though I don't remember it), but for something one of the local newscasters said during the week. There was LOTS of coverage locally of Nationals, which was great, but since 99% of those involved had no clue about skating, there were lots of errors in articles and on the news (same thing happens everywhere, I'm sure.) One day, the local ABC news talked about Elizabeth Kwon winning the novice championship, and I'll never forget, the sportscaster said, "and yes, if you were wondering, she IS Michelle Kwan's sister." !?!?!? It was both annoying at the same time it cracked me up.

I don't really have any good pics of Michelle from the exhibitions. I have none online, and even the ones I haven't scanned in aren't great. The problem was my seat, which as I said a few times, only had one seat in front of me. That's because it was a temporary seat. They take out a section of seats for hockey (the penalty box or the bench or something), and that included my seat. Since it was temporary, when people would applaud, I would feel my seat rock back and forth a bit. It was not a problem during the comp, since the TV lights are so bright, it doesn't cause a problem with the camera and blur. But in the spotlights, with my little ole 35mm camera, adding in the shake, I wasn't doing so well with pictures (ah, to go back in time with my fancy digital camera *sob*) I always loved On My Own, it was great to see it in person again.

After Michelle, they introduced the team of Olympic skaters. Nicole didn't skate in the exhibition, but she was there when they introed the team. Meno & Sand, who had to withdraw from the competition were named to the team, but not there. Then they all skated around, throwing stuffed animals into the crowd. I went down to the boards (and so did a ton of other people, lol.) I didn't get one from Michelle, but Todd handed me a little white 1998 Nationals bear, so I was very happy! I know I still have that bear, but don't ask me where it is. ;) After that, they left the ice, and it was all officially over.

If you can't tell, I had a blast during this week. I had been looking forward to it since the day we ordered the tickets, and in a snap, it was all over. I wrote in my report at the time about it being a once in a lifetime experience, and that I hoped to someday be able to travel to attend another Nationals. I didn't wait too long, as I attended Nationals in 2001, 2002, 2005, and 2006 (though most of that last one was spent in my hotel room sick.) Attending Nationals is an amazing experience, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves skating. Today, I kick myself for not attending Nationals in 2003 & 2004. At this point, though, I figure the only way I'll make it back to Nationals is if it's in my backyard again, or if Michelle shows up in any capacity (skater, hall of fame inductee, zamboni driver. If she's there, I'm there!)

Since I don't have any pics of Michelle from today, here's a pic of Michelle throwing the teddy bears into the crowd from the MK Gallery. It's always been one of my favorites.

I don't have any local vids to post (I posted all the ones from the 11th in yesterday's post), but here are a few from ABC's broadcast of the exhibitions:

Short clip of Michelle backstage during the exhibitions (2MB)

Interview before the exhibitions, where Michelle talks about her amazing performances and going to the Olympics (8MB)

And, finally, On My Own from Nationals. I couldn't find it on youtube, so I figured I had to post it. (18MB)

Check out my my full report from January 11

And if you want to see all my reports & pictures in one place, check out my 1998 Nationals page. I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane!!