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.
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:
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!)
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):
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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):
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 .
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):
Then, on January 4, at another practice:
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 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:
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):
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.
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:
And, here's how Michelle's practice went:
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):
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 .
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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):
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.
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:
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!!