AOLiveMC3: Welcome, and thanks for joining us, Michelle Kwan.

Michelle Kwan: Thank you for having me this evening. I welcome all questions you may have. I will try to answer as many as possible.

AOLiveMC3: Here it is, our first audience question:

Question: What age did you start skating?

Michelle Kwan: I started skating when I was 5 years old. My sister and I watched my brother play hockey at a mall that had a rink in it. And one day we decided to skate.

Question: Hello, Ms. Kwan! What did you do the night that you won the 2nd place?

Michelle Kwan: After the medal ceremony, I went to the hotel and stayed in my room and talked to my parents for a while. I had to get myself together. I was disappointed and I just needed time alone. Time to reflect on things.

Question: Michelle, do you plan to stay eligible after 2002? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Michelle Kwan: I haven't decided, I haven't looked past 2002. I'm staying eligible as long as I'm competing, and have no idea what I will be doing in 10 years. Hopefully I will be commentating. Maybe I'll be married?

Question: How do you have such a positive attitude? I usually don't have one.

Michelle Kwan: I think it all goes back to my parents and my upbringing. It's hard sometimes. I'm not always happy. I do have tough times. You sort of have to look at everything in a positive way. That, I find, helps me get through those tough times.

Question: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?

Michelle Kwan: The 1998 National Championship, my biggest accomplishment. Before the Nationals I had an injury and was afraid I wouldn't have myself ready by then. I was able to get myself together mentally and physically. I feel I skated the best program of my life.

Question: What's your book about?

Michelle Kwan: My book is about setting and reaching goals, not just in skating, but anything you do in your life.

AOLiveMC3: What inspired you to write this book?

Michelle Kwan: You see so many books out there, but none for young girls. When they approached me to write a book, I wanted to help younger kids. I wanted to help them reach their dreams and make them reality through hard work. In the book I tell them the steps they need to take to make them happen.

Question: How do keep yourself so concentrated and do so good when you skate? I really commend you!

Michelle Kwan: Thanks! I am so used to focusing on the task at hand, not letting the distractions around me bother me. They always talk about the zone and now that I'm an athlete, I feel that there is a zone that you have to enter...

Question: Hi, Michelle! How do you enjoy college life, and how do you think you can manage to balance practice and competitions with schoolwork?

Michelle Kwan: Finishing up the last question... a zone you must enter before you compete.

Michelle Kwan: Good question! My school starts Thursday. My coach and I are trying to figure out a good schedule that will allow me to juggle practice and homework. Right now the plan is to skate in the early morning and take classes late in the afternoon.

Question: Hi, Michelle, Adam here... figure skating clearly demands many years of intense training, but how important is a skater's mental attitude in determining success, ultimately?

Michelle Kwan: I think at this point of competing for so many years, I believe it's more of a mental game than it is physical. The key I think is to stay positive, and I think to anybody is to believe in yourself.

AOLiveMC3: Why did you decide to write a book?

Michelle Kwan: I really felt there were no motivational books for young girls. There definitely needs to be one or more of them. Lots of young girls have many role models. Role models don't explain the steps which they took to reach their success....

Question: Hey, Michelle! What is the most memorable thing that has been sent to you? (Fan book, Christmas ornament, etc.) From: Jamie.

Michelle Kwan: Finishing the last one... this book takes the readers through those steps. I did once receive a memory scrapbook that had the music I skated to, pictures of all my costumes and kind of like a history of all my skating competitions. The memorable thing that has been sent to me was a scrapbook of all my programs.

Question: Hi, Michelle, Adam here... is it possible for a figure skater to have fun while performing at the Olympics, or is the stress of competition too overwhelming to enjoy yourself until it's over?

Michelle Kwan: I think, during my performance, there is a lot of pressure and a lot of things to do at the moment, but still it's fun. I might not be smiling, but focusing. I don't think it's getting on top of the podium that's so important, it's the process of getting there. It wouldn't be worth it if it was only 4 minutes of happiness.

Question: Hi, Michelle! You are a wonderful skater, and you always amaze me by continuously [striving] to improve yourself. Is there anything new we can expect to see this coming season? -- Heather. :-)

Michelle Kwan: I will be skating pairs... just kidding! There are a lot of things I need to improve, I think. Challenging myself with triple-triple and to continue to push the envelope. Someday I will have a triple axel. I hope!

Question: Hi, Michelle, Adam here... although you obviously are thrilled when you win a competition, how do you handle those times when you don't finish as high as you might have hoped?

Michelle Kwan: Just knowing how much more I can achieve, and improve as well. It keeps me pretty well balanced when I don't win. No one can win all the time.

Question: Michelle, there have been rumors that you will turn pro after Worlds. Is this true?

Michelle Kwan: Absolutely not true!

Question: Hey, Michelle, I'm a webmaster of a site about you, "Jamie's Michelle Kwan Page," and I was wondering if it is scary to go online and see everyone praising you like a "god. :o)

Michelle Kwan: First of all, I don't think of myself as a god, so it's not scary. Second, I really enjoy interacting with my fans and skating fans in general. I find the comments interesting... usually.

Question: Do you think the media portrayed the "rivalry" between you and Tara incorrectly? Are you friends with her?

Michelle Kwan: It seems like the media portrays that you are enemies hating each other, but that's not true at all. We respect each other. We are both very competitive. And it was fun for me to compete [against] such a great skater. I know that she helped me bring out the best in me as a skater, and I hope I did the same thing for her.

Question: Michelle, you always appear so poised and peaceful when you skate. What are the qualities which you attribute to your own "winning attitude"?

Michelle Kwan: I guess surrounding myself with friends and family and knowing that people support me through good times and bad. I always have to remind myself that I am skating for the fun of it and because I love it.

Question: Michelle, how does it feel to be so loved by so many fans and knowing that a lot of young girls/boys have been inspired by you?

Michelle Kwan: I'm honored. I only hope that I can be a good role model and make a difference in their lives.

AOLiveMC3: There is time for one more question.

Question: I think you're a great role model, and I'm 24. Do you think it's odd that some people who look up to you are older than you are?

Michelle Kwan: Good question! If you find good in people, it doesn't matter what age they are. I admire a lot of younger skaters myself, those who can step on the ice with a big smile. Gosh, the half-hour has really gone by quickly.

AOLiveMC3: Thank you so much for joining us, Michelle.

Michelle Kwan: I really enjoyed this time with you this evening. Thanks for coming online to talk to me. I hope we can do it again. Keep your fingers crossed for me this year.

Huge thanks to Kimberly for this transcript!


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Photo Jay Adeff