(Narrator is always a voice over)

During the taping Michelle is wearing a black long-sleeved V- necked top with chandelier earrings (the same ones she wore in her fluff pieces for ’04 Nats). She is sitting in a room with red walls, and some flowers to her left.

Clips of recent practices with Michelle wearing black leggings and a black halter top with white piping.

Michelle Kwan: Growing up, when you imagine winning, you always imagine being on top of the podium.

Clips of Michelle skating as a child, winning 96 Worlds, falling at 97 Nationals LP, and end pose to FOG are shown.

Narrator: Michelle Kwan has grown up in front of our eyes. From child prodigy, to exuberant teenager, to beautiful young woman; in victory, and in defeat; she has always shown the heart of a champion.

Peggy Fleming: (Clip of spiral from This Time Around is shown) She's just amazing, just amazing. You know, you just never underestimate that young lady. She's got incredible strength.

N: Michelle Kwan. Now, on Biography.

[Biography opening title]

More recent practice clips are shown.

Dick Button: A great skater is someone who leaves the sport different and better because he or she was in it, and I think that's--Michelle has done that.

PF: She is just phenomenal; she's been so steady and been on top for...over ten years.

Brian Boitano: To be in the building when she skates really well is a magical thing. It's a very magical thing, and she's definitely one of the greats in my mind.

Practice clips are shown.

N: She is a legend in her sport. One of the most decorated skaters in history, yet the one prize she wants most has eluded her so far, the prize that she has dreamt of since she was a little girl.

MK: I have a different perspective now than when I was seventeen, and I prefer this perspective because you enjoy it so much more. And you realize at the end of the day it's not just about that six-minute set. I was at the Olympics. It was the everyday hard work; it's the everyday pleasure that you get to be on the ice. So when people say, "Oh, you're staying in to win the Olympics", it's like, "Yeah, I'm staying in...to try to win the Olympics." And I'm staying in just because I love the sport and just because it's what I want to do.

N: (Clips of Opening moves from Salome, 96 Worlds podium with Irina Slutskaya, and Chen Lu, skating to Song of India and Rondo are shown.) Michelle Kwan was a child phenom. By 1996, the precocious fifteen-year-old was already the world champion. With only two years to go until the '98 Olympics, Michelle was the early favorite for the Olympic gold. Michelle appeared to be one of those rarest of child stars, who actually loved what she was doing. There was no pushy stage parent waiting in the wings.

Pictures of Michelle as a child are shown.

MK: My parents said, "You can quit any time you want." My parents really gave me a choice. The sessions used to be, like, $5.75. My dad said, "Here's $5.75. You can either go to the ice rink and pay for it, or you can go to, you know, a liquor store and buy some candy. What do you want to do?" And I took the money and went to the rink. And that made me realize that the money...was coming out of my hand.

N: By 1996, it looked like Michelle would sail through the next two years and collect her Olympic gold. (pics of MK on podium at ’96 Worlds, and clips of her being photographed by the bay are shown.) But the next year, things started to go wrong. She grew taller, and had to cope with her changing body. (Clips of 97 Nats, falling, tears on podium are shown.) To make matters worse, she was having trouble with her skates. In the same year, Michelle lost both her National and World titles to the new kid on the block, Tara Lipinski. (clip of Tara on podium)

Clip of Michelle and Frank in K&C after ’97 Nationals is shown

Frank Carroll: And, you know, your first lutz...

MK: Why did I chicken out? I was working hard, but just--the focus was very negative for me. I was very uptight. (Picture from ’97 Nationals, clips of Michelle and Frank on the ice are shown.)

N: With just a year to go until the Nagano Olympics, Michelle found herself in the role of the underdog. Then, just two months before the US Nationals, which would double as the Olympic trials, X-rays revealed a stress fracture in her left foot. Just weeks before the biggest competition of her life, Michelle was in a cast. (Clip of Michelle reading a book on the couch, wearing her cast is shown)

MK: (Estella and Michelle with her cast walking together outside their Lake Arrowhead home) They told me that I had to take at least three weeks off. And I said, "I can't be in a cast. I have pain here, but isn't there something you can do?" I've worked so many years to be at the Olympics and this is my chance, and I can't practice and I might not even qualify. So when I went to Philadelphia for the National Championships, and it was two weeks after I had gotten my cast off...

N: (Michelle is shown running on treadmill) But Michelle could be at her most dangerous when people underestimated her.

PF: When you least expect it, when you think, "Oh, everybody's counting her out", then she'll just go out there and wow everybody, and we'll all just be sitting there going, "I just can't believe what we just saw!" She is just amazing, just amazing. You know, you just never underestimate that young lady. (picture of Michelle at 98 Nationals is shown.)

N: (Clips 6.0’s for Lyra, Olympic stadium, Lyra end pose, and Tara kissing her medal are shown during this voice over.) At the Olympic trials in Philadelphia, Michelle was untouchable. And the next month at the Olympics, she again skated flawlessly. But Tara Lipinski, equally flawless, snatched the gold in a close decision.

MK: It was hard because I had thought it was good enough to win. I came home with the silver. There was nothing I could do, I just -- I was really, really happy and thrilled about my performance, and some people think that, you know, I lost the gold, but I felt more that I had won the silver.

N: (clips and pics from ’98 Olympics: MK with medal, podium with Tara and Chen Lu are shown.) Lipinski won by a very narrow margin, and many experts thought Michelle had deserved the gold. But her graciousness in the face of defeat won her even more admirers. (Michelle is shown signing autographs) Michelle chose not to turn pro. She would continue to compete against the best in the world. She was staying in for another four years. She would go for the Olympic gold again in Salt Lake City in 2002.

BB: I was like, "Oh my God, you're gonna go for another--that's gonna be four years, that's gonna be so long!" But she's a great competitor, it's what she likes to do, I think that she would feel lost if she didn't have the competition. She lives by something that competition gives to her. (more practice clips are shown.)

N: (Highlights from 99-02 are shown: The Red Violin, ’02 Nationals podium with Sasha Cohen and Sarah Hughes, Michelle with Olympic torch) For the next four years, Michelle reigned atop her sport, winning an incredible four out of four National titles and three out of four World titles. She headed into the 2002 Games in her home country as the reigning World champion.

Vera Wang: The pressure was overwhelming that entire week in Salt Lake prior to her actually taking the ice that night. And I think most people could not even have taken the ice if they had that amount of pressure on them.

N: Michelle made just one mistake, (shown falling on flip during long program at Olympics) but her younger U.S. teammate, Sarah Hughes, was perfect. (Olympic podium picture is shown) Four years after getting silver in Nagano, she took bronze in Salt Lake City.

PF: (Clip shown of Michelle wiping away tears on the podium at ’02 Olympics) My heart really broke for Michelle. Just broke. I mean, I'm sitting in the crowd and, you know, it was just so sad to see that happen again. It just -- I don't know how she can, you know, pull herself back up and keep on competing after she's, you know, gone through these heartbreaks. But I think all these heartbreaks are making her tougher.

More recnt practice clips are shown.

N: At a stage of her career where most champions would retire from Olympic skating, Michelle chose to go on testing herself in the crucible of competition, placing herself under pressure, to see what would come out.

PF: (Tosca end pose ’04 Nationals is shown) I don't think that Michelle's skating is about medals. I think it's about challenging herself and scaring herself to death. I think she thrives on competition.

VW: She's not afraid to take a chance. And she's not afraid to be a warrior.

N: One year after Salt Lake City, Michelle came back to the Worlds and faced all challengers, and won again. (Clip of Michelle holding flag and wearing gold medal at ’03 Worlds is shown.) No woman in the sport's modern era has more World titles than Michelle Kwan, but she continues to pursue the one dream that has eluded her so far.

(Clips from practice and of Michelle competing in a white and purple dress as a child, pics of Michelle and her parents at the Great Wall of China, and Danny and clip of Danny and Estella in the kitchen are shown.) Michelle Kwan has always been a hard worker. It was a quality instilled in her by her parents, immigrants from China and Hong Kong who stressed the importance of hard work. The Kwans came to the US in the 1970's, seeking a better life for the next generation.

Karen Kwan: When my grandparents first came over, they worked at a restaurant for a couple of years before they made enough money to buy the property and start the restaurant. (Pics are shown of the Golden Pheasant and pics of Michelle on the wall)

MK: (pic of Michelle and Danny taken around 1999 is shown) I remember talking to my father about when he came to the United States, and he had absolutely nothing in his pocket. And having that sort of feeling--going somewhere, being scared, but being ambitious and being a hard worker--you can get very far.

N: The Kwans settled in southern California. (Several pics of Michelle, Karen and Ron as young children are shown.) Michelle's father worked for the phone company. Her mother stayed at home with their three children. Michelle and her siblings grew up speaking Cantonese and eating many of their meals at the family-owned Chinese restaurant. Skating started as a lark.

Ron Kwan: She gets on the ice and, you know, barely could even walk around the rink, but she loved it. Pretty soon, she was jumping around, doing spins...You can say that I was probably her first coach. I was the first one to kind of walk her around the rink a little bit and it didn't take long before she started showing me how to skate.

N: Michelle and her older sister Karen fell in love with figure skating right from the start. (Cute picture of young Michelle and Karen in matching American Flag skating dresses is shown.)

KK: We used to skate early, early in the morning, so we would just sleep in our tights and sleep in our little outfits, and roll out of bed and get in the car. We'd wake up with each other and go to the rink with each other and spend the whole day with each other and as we got older, we would even compete together. And when we skated together, it was just--I mean, it was just so nice to have your best friend, you know, looking over and saying, "Oh, you're doing this wrong" or "You're doing that wrong" or "Why don't we have a competition; let's do...see who can do the most double axels?"

Clips of young Michelle in the white and purple dress are shown.

N: What started as a hobby quickly became a passion.

MK: About eight. Eight and ten. That's when we got really serious, like "We could be good at this. Yeah, we could, we could go to the Olympics!" (laughs)

N: Once the girls got serious about competing, they rearranged their entire lives so they could train four or five hours a day.

MK: We had a really hectic schedule. We would skate at three o'clock in the morning. We would get at least three or four sessions in before going to school at, like, nine forty-five in the morning. After school we'd go straight to the rink, and then we would go to my grandparents' restaurant and have dinner and then rush home and then try to catch maybe thirty minutes of TV if we were lucky and then go to sleep. And then start all over again the next day.

N: (More clips of young Michelle in the white and purple dress are shown.) More hours on the ice meant more coach's fees and more ice time. It all added up. The Kwans didn't realize it at first, but they had started down a path that would eventually lead them into serious financial hardship.

KK: My mom had to work a second job, and my dad was working, you know, a lot of hours during the day just to support us.

MK: I have pictures of, you know, I've got holes in the tights and I've got hand-me-downs of, like, a figure skating little outfit, and, you know, (starting to laugh more and more) little rips and holes and gloves with holes... I mean, we were just lucky to be on the ice and have a coach. I just remember--growing up we would save every penny. We would have a five-gallon jug. Every single penny had to go into that jug, and we'd buy groceries with that money, and...I remember going to school and all my friends' parents had really nice cars and my dad had this really beat-up blue car that he'd just drive us to school. And I'd be like, (whispers) "Dad, can you, like--" And I didn't want to hurt his feelings because I knew that I wasn't very (laughs) proud of the car; but I'd tell him, "Dad, it's okay, you can just drop us off back here; it's all right", because all of my friends were all waiting out there...

N: As Karen and Michelle got better at skating, the costs skyrocketed. (Clips are shown of Karen skating in a peach dress, Michelle and family cheering for her) There were more lessons, costs of traveling to competitions, and buying costumes and customized skates (Clip of Michelle skating in blue dress is shown.)

Danny Kwan: In the beginning, I thought I can afford it, but later on then, I got deeper, and I saw, "Oh God, it's expensive."

Clip of Michelle in pink East of Eden dress is shown.

N: At one point, there was not even enough money to buy a family Christmas tree.

MK: So there was a contest at school, and if you can thread popcorn, the longest string of popcorn, you win a tree. A little miniature tree with little decorations. And I looked at the tree, I was like, "Oh, I have to win this", because my sister and I, like, begged my parents to get a Christmas tree and never got one. So in one minute, I swear my thread of popcorn was, like, from here to, like, San Francisco! And I was just...had my eye set on that tree, and...I won that Christmas tree and I took it home. So, after school, my Dad came to pick me up and I said, "Dad, look!" It was a very, very special Christmas because we actually had presents under a Christmas tree (Picture shown of Michelle and Karen posing by the tree in their matching skating dresses).

N: (Clip of Michelle skating in blue dress is shown.) Ultimately, Michelle's parents sold their home in upscale Palos Verdes to help finance the girls' skating.

Estella Kwan: So I think we better, you know, sold the house and then get a small house instead.

N: The day came when the Kwans could no longer keep up with the cost of keeping two daughters in elite skating, which soared to over $50,000 a year (Picture of young Karen and Michelle in skating dresses is shown.)

MK: At that point we're...almost in debt.

DK: (Many clips of Michelle skating in the white and purple dress are shown.) I talked to Karen and I talked to Michelle too at the same time and I said, "You know what? If you want to skate, maybe you don't get the lesson for a while. I think you can practice what you learn in the past, because I can't afford to pay for it no more." Because I don't want to, you know, put the whole family in jeopardy.

N: Michelle Kwan's father wanted to support his daughters' dreams, but his bank balance had reached zero. He could no longer afford to pay for lessons.

MK: That was tough, because you go to a competition and there's your father standing next to the rink, next to the boards, and--whereas other skaters had the coach.

N: (pics of Michelle with a trophy and practicing are shown.) That season, ten-year-old Michelle had her best regional competition ever, attracting the attention of a talent scout who offered both Kwan girls a scholarship to the world-famous Ice Castle International Training Center. (clips of Ice Castle signs and Danny watching Michelle practice are shown.) But Ice Castle was in Lake Arrowhead, California, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the family home. So Michelle's father made a five-hour round-trip commute each day to stay with the girls, while her mother remained in LA with the girls' older brother, Ron.

KK: (Clips showing the cabins at Ice Castle are shown.) We just moved everything from our house into this little tiny cottage that had, you know, a tiny little bathroom and a bunk bed and a big bed all within one room, no kitchen or anything like that. It was really, really interesting being in a facility where people ate and slept figure skating.

N: The two sisters would now train with one of the most sought-after coaches in the world, Frank Carroll (photos of Michelle and Frank are shown.)

MK: Working with Frank Carroll, this famous, famous coach--it was such an amazing place to train. It was like a serious rink, it was there because people wanted to be the best, they want to go to the Olympics, and they wanted to win. So that was, like, the atmosphere that I wanted.

FC: (Picture of Michelle standing in front of the Olympic rings outside the Olympic Training Center is shown.) I think she was about maybe eleven years old, and I was amazed. I mean, she had incredible spring in her legs, and she had great energy and vitality. She was awkward and, you know, wore ill-fitted clothes, and just had raw talent just coming out her ears. And I mean, you'd have to be blind not to recognize it.

N: After one year under Carroll's tutelage, eleven-year-old Michelle finished ninth in the '92 National Junior Championships.

Christine Brennan: (clips of Michelle and Frank, and Michelle competing are shown.) This was a little kid who obviously had a lot of energy and was in a big hurry. Frank Carroll goes out of town for the weekend, Frank's her coach, he's her mentor, he's in charge of every part of her skating life. Michelle, not even twelve years old yet, tells her dad that Frank said it was okay, and they go and they take what is called the senior test. Michelle takes that test, but this all occurred while Frank was away for the weekend. And you can imagine his surprise when he returned and said, "You did what?"

FC: And I came back and found out that she had done that, and I was absolutely, stark raving furious. What is done is done, you have to move on, and I just said, "Well, Frank, you can't go back and change this, it's happened. Now what?"

N: (several shots of Michelle and Frank, early senior competition pics, ’94 Nationals podium with Tonya Harding, EOE, Peter Pan and Song of India are shown.) The next season, twelve-year-old Michelle astonished the skating world by qualifying for the 1993 US Senior Nationals and placing 6th. One year later, she was second at Nationals. That summer, after her first Worlds, she went on tour with the older skaters, bringing her Mom along as a chaperone.

BB: I don't want to watch any skating when I'm on the road, but I would go out and watch her every night, because I really loved that she had this soul. (clip of Michelle skating to Peter Pan is shown)

N: After a summer on tour, Michelle finished second at the '95 Nationals. The next month, she would skate a perfect program at Worlds, landing more triples than any other skater in the competition. (Clips from ’95 Worlds long program are shown.) And yet, she finished fourth.

MK: I really looked young. I had no makeup. And that was, like, my statement. Because I didn't need makeup; it was all about my skating! And I landed all my jumps perfectly, and...when I placed fourth, I knew that something had to change. If I had skated my best and still ended up fourth, no medal, I needed to do something. The judges were telling me something.

CB: Michelle Kwan should have easily been in the medals, and instead was fourth, and you could make a strong case that she should have won that World Championships. But instead, what was happening was the judges were clearly saying, "She looks too young. She's a little jumper, and that's all she is."

FC: The plan shifted into, "How do I make this little, awkward, wonderfully talented girl into a majestic, beautiful skater?"

Several clips of Michelle competing from 1993-1995 are shown.

N: So in the fall of 1995, Frank Carroll turned to choreographer Lori Nichol to help him transform fifteen-year-old Michelle Kwan. Michelle was to portray Salome on the ice.

FC: I sat Michelle down and explained who Salome was, that she was exactly her age, and how she was very provocative, and how she got the attention of the king, and how it ended up with the head of John the Baptist on a plate. And her eyes opened up and she said, "Wow! Cool!" And so I thought, "Great! This is wonderful." But then there was Danny Kwan.

DK: I'm kind of old-fashioned, you know... I just don't like to see my girl put the makeup on when she was thirteen, fourteen, fifteen years old.

MK: My dad's like, "Makeup! (gasps) What are you talking about makeup? You can't wear makeup! It'll...uh, it'll get in your way when you're concentrating on a jump!"

FC: To portray this provocative role, she would have to look the part. She'd have to wear a costume that was provocative, she'd have to wear the makeup, and she was a very traditional Chinese little girl from a traditional Chinese family, and she never wore makeup. So it was a sell, because I had to say, "Look. Michelle's, you know, very, very, nice, young girl, innocent girl. Girls her age, you know, dance in New York in the ballet. They wear makeup, they portray all these parts. It doesn't mean anything; they're just doing an act."

KK: It took a little while for my parents to sort of agree to it. After that, it was still "no makeup off the ice".

N: But a new look was only part of the new image. More important was the transformation happening to Michelle herself.

MK: (Clips from Salome,’96 Nationals: skating, podium are shown.) I really learned a lot in learning how to feel the music, as if you were performing with it, instead of just going out there and (gradually talking faster and faster) skating and jumping and skating and jumping and spinning and...And so in '96, I came out and I had makeup and I skated Salome and I really got into the character and...really very dramatic and...people didn't recognize me. That was, that was fun. (laughs)

N: Skating the Salome program, Michelle claimed her first National title in 1996. She headed to Worlds determined to beat the favorite, Lu Chen.

CB: (pic of Chen Lu at 96 Worlds is shown) At those Worlds, Lu Chen skated first, and got a few sixes, and Michelle Kwan and Frank Carroll, her coach, were hidden away in one of their cubby-holes and they thought they couldn't hear anything, it was, like, soundproof, except they heard the 6.0's coming in from the public address system.

FC: Michelle turned to me and said, "I don't think I can beat that." And I had about, maybe, ten seconds to say something to her that would turn her around and make her believe, "Yes, you can beat that, and you can win this championship." And I said to her, "Yes, her second mark was 6.0's and she's a wonderful artistic skater, but you didn't listen to the first mark. It was all 5.8's." I said, "They've left that 5.9 for you. You know you can do this, you know you've beaten her this year already at Skate America, you know you're better. So believe you can do this." (clip of K&C after Worlds performance of Salome is shown)

N: Michelle got 6.0's of her own, and took the title. (Salome clip) At fifteen, she was now officially the best skater in the world. Overnight, fifteen-year-old Michelle Kwan had become world-famous. Her life changed dramatically. She began earning thousands of dollars a night as a headliner on tour.

[Clip: (Michelle getting ready to take the ice at COI)

Announcer: She is the 1996 World Champion: Michelle Kwan!]

Young as she was, she suddenly found she was a role model to others, (show clips of Michelle talking with children at a hospital) yet somehow life at the top was harder than expected. Now, her every move was scrutinized. She was growing up under a microscope.

FC: I don't know if Michelle felt different after becoming world champion. It was the way other people perceived her and treated her that was so different.

MK: Once you hit the top, it's like, "Where do I go but down?" I worried a lot, and I had a really hard time concentrating. My body changed a lot, like every girl does, and, you know, the media, it's like "Oh, it's her body changing. She's falling on her triple lutz because of her weight (Michelle falling at 97 Nationals) and, you know, she's growing and turning into a woman and"--I'm like, "This is really embarrassing!"

N: After becoming world champion, Michelle's father had signed a deal for his daughter with a company that made skates, but Michelle couldn't adjust to the new skates. She headed to the 1997 Nationals to defend her title feeling uncertain.

[Clip: (’97 Nationals LP)

DB: Triple toe, double toe, and--

PF: Oh!

DB: --then a fall off the end of it...]

BB: I remember going backstage--I can see it right now in front of me--and she was in the distance and I looked over at her and she looked at me and her eyebrows, you know, wrinkled and she started crying, so I went over to her and I just hugged her.

N: That night, Michelle left an opening for her rivals, and Tara Lipinski stepped through. (Clips of Tara skating and on podium at ’97 Nationals are shown.)

PF: Tara Lipinski was just driven, and I'd never seen a little girl quite like that before. The minute I saw her on the ice, I could tell that she was not intimidated about anything, and she was just, you know, just there, to show off.

N: A few weeks later in Lausanne, Switzerland, Michelle lost her World title to Tara Lipinski.

CB: So now Tara Lipinski is the reigning National and World champ, and stealing those titles from Michelle Kwan, who had them in '96. It's a real defined--two defined resumes, certainly. You've got Michelle Kwan, and then Tara Lipinski, and now they're both converging, they're just going to meet in this incredibly intense 1997-1998 Olympic year.

N: Less than a year before the '98 Olympics, Michelle needed to reinvent herself again.

CB: Coming off of the '97 season and all of the trouble that Michelle had, she's just cruisin' along. I mean, we're--everything, all systems go, through that year, heading into the '98 Nationals. And--boom--the word comes that she's gotten a stress fracture, and that she's got a cast on her leg, and that she's out (pics of Michelle with cast are shown.)

KK: Michelle is sort of a fish out of water if she's not on the ice. I think that when she had that cast on and she was told not to skate for five weeks that she didn't know what to do with herself. I think, knowing that the Olympic trials were coming up, you're in a cast, and you can't get on the ice, it was sort of one of those nightmares that you have, and you can't seem to wake yourself up out of it.

FC: When she finally got off the cast, the first time she got out there and skated, she burst into tears and came back to me and said, "I don't think I can do this. I don't think I can do this. I can't put any weight on it, I'm weak, and I don't think this is gonna work."

N: Ready or not, she arrived in Philadelphia in January for the Olympic trials.

MK: I went to Philadelphia, just--no expectations. I let loose and just had fun.

Several clips and pics of Lyra from ’98 Nationals, Karen in tears after Michelle’s skate, and 6.0’s in the K&C are shown.

PF: And I think you really saw the joy of Michelle come through. She was just alive, she was just, like, floating over the ice. She wasn't skating on the ice; she was floating. And you could tell she loved this program; you could tell it was just a part of her. And she brought the house down.

dB: I think there's just a quality there of completeness and openness and welcoming-ness to her skating, and that's a quality that I haven't seen too often.

MK: It all came from the heart, and that was the one thing that everybody strives to do, is just to skate from the heart.

N: Michelle was on top of her sport again. Tara Lipinski finished a distant second. Michelle was heading for the Nagano Olympics as the odds-on favorite.

MK: Well, I was glad that I had the time in between Nationals and the Olympics to get myself prepared as best as I could. And I still had pain in my left foot, in my stress fracture, and it didn't heal 100%.

N: (practice clips are shown) The pressure on an Olympic favorite is enormous, but it was nothing compared to the pressure Michelle was putting on herself to realize her dream.

MK: It was either win or die, and I had that mentality going into the Olympics, and I was like, "I gotta win, I gotta win, I gotta win."

PF: The Olympics are just so different. It's a very different competition, and the pressure is enormous. And going there as the favorite is even more so.

BB: (pic of Brian and Michelle) I remember her asking me questions about what it was like to win the Olympics. "What was it like?", you know, and she never asked me that kind of stuff.

N: (several pics and clips of Rach at ’98 Olympics are shown.) In Nagano, her focus was total. Michelle won the short program; Tara Lipinski was second. Michelle was one performance away from Olympic gold.

MK: How could I describe the Olympics? You work and you visualize every single moment that you're going to be at the Olympics. When that day comes, it's just unbelievable, you're--step into the rink, and... (pic from 98 Rach is shown) The first time I skated over the Olympic rink, I think I started crying. It's so emotional, because you just--yeah, you visualize every second. You're there, and you're skating, performing, and (gasps) here it is...it's like...the stage is set.

FC: My experience with Michelle at the Olympics...The Olympics are a very, very important thing to her, to the point that she almost tightens up when the time comes because she probably wants it so bad. I felt that Michelle was tight that night before she took the ice.

Montage of several pictures from Lyra Angelica are shown.

N: She was nervous, but her willpower was astonishing. Under the greatest pressure of her young life, seventeen-year-old Michelle Kwan was simply perfect.

MK: I just remember coming off the ice. I was crying, I just was overwhelmed. And I guess the emotions that were going through my mind and my body was...a sense of release, (pic of Michelle crying in the K&C at ’98 Olympics is shown) a sense of...I tried so hard to be in the best shape of my life. Didn't make any mistakes. I did this, I did everything I possibly can, and it all happened.

BB: Well, after she skated, I thought, "She won, she won, thank God, she won", you know, like a big sigh of relief. Then Tara came on. (Photo of Tara from her Rainbow Olympic LP) Tara's moment happened to be that night as well, and it's almost like if you were to rewrite the history books, it's like--two performances like that shouldn't have happened in one night. But they did.

Several pics from Rach, Lyra, and the Podium at ’98 Olympics are shown.

Scott Hamilton: It was a solid performance. She would have won a lot of other Olympics. It will be debated, because they were both good performances, you know, but it was Tara's night. It was just a great rivalry that went Tara's way.

MK: Everybody works hard. Everybody wants to win. But there's only one...one--one spot.

CB: It was one of the more remarkable human efforts, for Michelle Kwan to handle herself as she did in Nagano the moments after she had not won the gold and the press conference occurred. There she is, her eyes are still puffy from having cried, and Tara Lipinski is in this giddy dreamworld that you can only imagine, you know, just...kid has just won the Olympic gold medal and no one can believe it. And she handled herself very well--Tara did. But the question, the rivalry question came up, very quickly: What do you two think of the other? And Tara giddily said, "I didn't watch Michelle skate, but I know she did great", and, you know, Tara just gave the answer you would expect from a teenager who's in some other world. And Michelle Kwan took the microphone and very quietly paused for a moment and then said, "Tara, I like you." (’98 Olympics Podium pic with MK, TL, and Chen Lu is shown.)

KK: Michelle called from Japan probably about thirty minutes after the results and everything and I remember the sound of her voice, and, gosh, that was so tough. I think that was probably one of the hardest moments that I have because she wanted it so badly and I know that she had skated her heart out. (Michelle waving with her Silver medal is shown.)

MK: Getting the silver was--it was tough, because I thought, "How could I do--I always--My dream was to win, my dream was to win the gold. Not the silver, I want to get the gold!" (Standing on Oly podium with hand over heart) I just realized, when I got so, like, life is just as good winning the silver. It doesn't make me a better person if I had won the gold. It doesn't make me any different, it's just--medal.

N: Ironically, finishing second at Nagano seemed to make Michelle Kwan even more popular with the public. The next month, Tara Lipinski retired, while Michelle went on to the '98 Worlds and captured her second World title. At only seventeen, another Olympic bid was physically possible. It was a question of motivation.

KK: After the Olympics, I think it took a while for her to get back on her feet. It was just a very, very emotional time for her. It took her probably a year or two to start feeling like she could do it.

N: Michelle was a competitor at heart, and she would keep on competing. She would stay in for another four years, but she would do it on her own terms. So, just months after Nagano, she made an unusual decision for a skating champion. She was going to go to college. She enrolled at UCLA in the fall of 1999. (Short clips of UCLA campus is shown.)

MK: I just decided I want to experience going to school, being in the dorms--just that whole atmosphere. And it was incredible because it made me realize, you know, skating is so small. They just, like, "Oh yeah, are you still competing? Are you doing, are you still doing that, that kind of, little thing, that little sport you're doing?" And it made--it put everything in perspective.

N: (’99 Nationals Podium is shown.) Michelle won the 1999 US title and finished second at Worlds, but even that minor misstep led some in the skating world to question whether she still had a champion's mettle. She would answer her critics at the 2000 Worlds in Nice.

MK: I just remember the talk, that "Aw, Michelle, she should just hang up her skates and turn professional," (Layback from Red Violin is shown) but I felt in my heart that I could still, I could still win. I had worked really, really hard, and just watching the tapes, I remember, I had this look in my eyes, and just--just, like, fierce, like, (scowling) look, like--it was actually not attractive, but I was like (very silly face) "Grrrrr!" just as if I was holding, like (mimes holding a javelin) a, like--I don't know--like, an arrow or something that I was going to toss--I was like, "Aaaaah!"--"Attack" was my word.

N: (SOTBS clips including: ending, and ’00 Worlds podium with Irina and Sarah are shown.) She attacked again the next year in Vancouver, winning an incredible fourth World title and setting herself up for her second Olympic bid. At twenty-one, she would enter the Salt Lake City Olympics in her home country as the reigning world champion. Then, four months before Salt Lake, Kwan made a shocking announcement: after ten years, she was leaving coach Frank Carroll and would compete at the Olympics without a coach.

FC: We were having some difficulty and we decided we weren't going to work anymore, and I said to Michelle, "But Michelle, I haven't changed. The way I teach, the technique I teach, and, you know, my attitude about skating is the same; I haven't changed." And she said to me, "No, you haven't changed, Frank. I've changed."

N: No one in skating had ever contemplated trying for an Olympic gold without a coach. It was an unprecedented move.

PF: I think it was extremely hard to go through the Olympics without a coach. There's a feeling of security and solidness about having your coach there, you know, doing every little detail. (Clip shown of Michelle hHugging Frank after performing Salome.) A coach is like another set of eyes looking at you. But if anybody could have done it without a coach, it--I would have put my money on Michelle. (laughing) I wouldn't have put it on myself! But I would have put it on Michelle to be able to pull it off.

N: Michelle Kwan had decided to go to her second Olympics without a coach. To have someone by her side, Michelle asked her father to stand at the boards for her in 2002, as he had done so many years ago during that year when the Kwans could no longer afford a coach.

DK: I just stand to give her whatever she need, you know, and maybe give her a bottle of water, calm her down, and that's my job, that's all it is, and I think the last minute, she mentioned, "Dad, can you stand next to me?" I said, "Sure."

KK: It was a little bit scary, you know, because I think that there was a lot of pressure on my dad--I could see it, you know. (Danny watching Michelle warm up before ’02 Olympic LP is shown) Not that he was--I'm sure he wanted to go and skate for her, but, you know, just standing there and going, "Okay. We've done these things for fifteen years now, you know, I've watched you skate, now this is the Olympics; okay, go out and skate."

MK: At the Olympics, I had my dad there on the boards. And I had to put myself on the ice but yet...I had somebody standing there that loved me and I trusted and I had him by my side no matter what happened. And that was a great, secure feeling for me. And the only thing I had to worry about was going out there and skating, and that was very sacred for me. It was just me and the ice.

Clips from ’02 Oly SP including: opening, spiral, taking bows are shown.

N: In the short program, Kwan skated magnificently, taking first place. For the second time in her life, she had the lead entering the Olympic finals.

MK: The pressure to skate well is so high. My own expectations were so high. I skated the best short program... (’02 Olympic long program clips including: Opening, falling on flip, in K&C with Danny are shown.) The long program I just made a few mistakes. I just let it slip out of my hands just a little bit. And that little bit cost a lot.

DK: I said, "Hey, that's...you know, hey, you did your best; I'm proud for you. I'm proud of you. That's best." That's what I told her.

N: (clips of Michelle rying and singing on podium, ending clip of FOG are shown.) Michelle ended up with the bronze medal. The next day, in the exhibition following the Olympics, she skated in a gold dress to the music "Fields of Gold", a number she had planned in advance.

RK: I'd never seen her skate with such emotion. I found myself teared up, you know, as an older brother.

PF: It was just perfect. But the only imperfection was, she didn't have the gold medal.

Several pics from FOG are shown.

MK: The music came on, and I started crying. During the performance, I mean I'm into it, I had that feeling--it was so amazing. I let myself feel that when I was skating, and felt the crowd behind me. I felt them saying, "It's okay, you know, it's all right. You love skating, you've won a lot of medals, you've won the Worlds; unfortunately, this is not your Olympics." And I just--I don't know, I just felt like, "Why couldn't I have released myself like that the night before?"

N: In her four Olympic performances, Michelle Kwan had made exactly one mistake, and yet her Olympic dream remained unfulfilled. But surprisingly, the public didn't care if Michelle had won the gold or not.

Tom Collins: The first night of the show in 2002, we opened in Dayton, Ohio, and you know she won the bronze that year. And she came out, and they announced her name, and she got a standing ovation. (Clips are shown of Michelle skating out to cheers and standing ovation, clips from Fields of Gold) And she skated, and before she was finished, again the last minute people were on their feet. People just love her, just love her, the most loved skater, probably in the history of figure skating.

CB: You say to people on the street, "Name a figure skater", and I think very often they will tell you "Michelle Kwan". Even without Olympic gold medals, that's how popular she is. (Clips are shown of Michelle signing autographs and at ’01 Nats with gold medal.) You cannot list the top five to ten women athletes on Earth through the late 90's into the next century without mentioning Michelle Kwan's name.

Practice clips, and what looks like an ending pose (perhaps to Spartacus?) are shown.

N: After Salt Lake, Michelle could have easily gone pro and given up her grueling training regimen. But one year after her second Olympic heartbreak, she went back out to put it all on the line again at the 2003 World Championships.

DK: She say, "Dad, I still can do it", and "I think I can win another one."

VW: (Clips are shown of spread eagle from Aranjuez ’03 Worlds) I think the Worlds after the Olympics really cemented her as a legend. That ability to come back, that ability to skate to that level when the chips are down, when she came out of such a traumatic Olympic year--I think that puts her in the history books.

MK: I just, like, ran down the ice doing my footwork, and I think the audience knew; the audience was, like, with me and knew that I was just like, "Yeah!" just like...pretty much screaming, with my arms up... (Michelle overjoyed while skating Lyra) I guess at the end of the day, when I'm done with skating and I look back, and to have a gold medal... That would be just...perfect. (laughs) I'm not sure if life could be that perfect, in a career, in a skating career, because I'm so lucky as it is, to win so many medals, and to be at the Olympics and to get a silver and a bronze, but... It would just complete the package. I mean, I've got a silver and I've got a bronze; all I'm missing right there is (trailing away) a little, gold medal...

Clips are shown of young Michelle skating, Rach, Lyra, Schez, SOTBS

N: With or without Olympic gold, Michelle Kwan is already one of her sport's greatest champions. The daughter of Chinese immigrants from Torrance, California, has realized her dreams, collecting dozens of titles along the way and securing a special place in skating history.

PF: I absolutely see her soul when she skates, and I think everybody in the building feels that, because she just has it. It's something you can't teach.

BB: (clips from Lyra including: Opening, jumps, end pose are shown.) There's something really special that sometimes happens to her; it's almost like the music's channeled through her sometimes, and all of a sudden the music comes on, and that's what makes her move. And the look on her face, of the music and the way she does it is just...it makes you float away with her.

[End titles]

Huge thanks to aetherae and Golden Michelle for this transcript!

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