(clip Michelle and
Frank on practice ice)
BG: This is
Frank Carroll one of the most respected coaches in figure skating.
In 1992, he watched Michelle Kwan skate for the first time in
an event leading to the National Junior Championships.
FC: I watched
her at the Pacific Coast Championships where I actually had another
girl in Junior Ladies against her and I wouldn’t enter into an
agreement to help her until after the championships because I
already had a skater. Well, my skater didn’t make it to Nationals
but Michelle did qualify and that was the first time I got to
see her skate and she was, you know, quite remarkable.
(clip of Michelle
MK: My parents
couldn’t really afford coaching and when I made it to Nationals
that was the point where I said “okay, I have to have a coach”
FC: I started
teaching Michelle right after that Pacific Coast Championship
and it was my first experience, those first few weeks before the
Nationals in trying to help her to see what I could do in that
BG: Though Michelle
did not do well in the Junior Nationals, she was more confident
than ever that her future was bright.
MK: Well, I
had just finished Nationals and at the time I wanted to move up
to Senior level. I said I know I didn't skate that well at Nationals,
I ended up ninth, and I said I believed that I could make it on
Senior level and Frank thought otherwise. He said, uh, you should
stay in one more year just to skate better next year at Nationals
and then move up.
FC: I thought
it would be more in her benefit to win the Junior title and go
into the Senior ladies as a National Champion, and, of course,
she didn't want to hear that.
MK: My parents
know me. They know that I'm always impatient and I said "okay,
let's take the test". And so, when Frank was gone for a week I
decided to take my test. And so I passed and when he came home
he was furious, of course, because as a coach you think you make
decisions, but I was young and I said I want this and I'm gonna
BG: One year
later, twelve-year-old Michelle Kwan is one of the competitors
in the 1993 Senior National Ladies Championships.
FC: Well, you
know, when something's done what can you do? You can't go back
and undo it. You have to move ahead. But I explained to Michelle
how much work she had ahead of her that being a Senior lady in
our Nationals means that you have to skate entirely different
with a new maturity, different look about it, and ease about it
and it is a whole different caliber of skater.
Well, I noticed her first in 1993 when she was twelve years old
competing at the Nationals and was the first one to have been
that young in 30 odd years and as really quite remarkable.
BG: In her first
Senior National Competition Michelle Kwan finishes in Sixth Place.
It is January 8th,
1994. The Long Program on the final night of the women's National
Figure Skating Championship in Detroit. The surprise of the competition
is 13-year-old Michelle Kwan currently in third place. The results
will have dual meaning. The first two finishers will represent
the United States at the Lillehamer Olympics. One of the favorites,
Nancy Kerrigan, is not in the competition. Two days before the
Nationals she was attacked by an unknown assailant and her leg
was badly injured. On this night, Tonya Harding wins the Championship,
13-year old Michelle Kwan finishes second. However, officials
decide to delay naming Kwan to the team.
It is February 12th,
1994 the Opening Ceremonies of the Lillehamer Olympic games. After
passing a skating test, Nancy Kerrigan is named to the Olympic
team joining Tonya Harding. Michelle Kwan is now named the first
alternate. The USFSA then decides that Michelle Kwan and coach
Frank Carroll should travel to Norway and be ready to perform.
MK: Well in
1994 I remember being thrown into this whole Nancy Kerrigan /
Tonya Harding situation. They sent me over to Lillehamer as an
alternate and I think that is was the first time they ever send
anyone as an alternate to an Olympic Games. Um, I wanted to compete
but I knew that Tonya and Nancy were here and I'm just her "just
in case" . The time was fun cause it's my first real big experience.
I've never been to an Olympic Games, so to me it was just a whole
FC: When we
were in Lillehamer was a fabulous experience for Michelle. We
had great fun, you know, we went there we didn't know if we were
going to skate or not and then it was decided that she wasn't
going to skate and that Tonya Harding was going to skate and so
we relaxed, went to all the events and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I think Michelle learned a great deal about the Olympics and about
that level of competition in Lillehamer, and uh, that how important
an event it really was and what it meant to a lot of people.
BG: The winner
of the Women's Figure Skating Competition is Oksana Baiul of Ukraine
with Nancy Kerrigan second, Lu Chen third. Tonya Harding places
Thirteen year old Michelle Kwan went on to compete in the Worlds
in M------, Japan and finished 8th. The following year she won
the silver in the Nationals, and came in 4th in the Worlds. For
the next seven years, Michelle Kwan would never finish worse than
This little girl comes on the ice, and I watched her do her performance.
There was some magic in her skating and it really got to me. So
I went down to the ice, ‘cause I didn’t know who her coach was.
It was Frank Carroll and I went up to Frank and I said, “Frank,
what’s her name again?” He said, “Michelle Kwan.” I said, Yeah,
Michelle, I really feel, just looking at her right now, she’s
got the potential to be an Olympic Champion.
BG: The following
year, 1996, the Kwan sisters are reunited on the ice.
KK: It was kind
of fun for us. And I had watched Michelle compete for a long time
so it was nice for me to actually to be there and go through the
same exact feelings that she was going through. And just skating
one after another and being in the same warm ups and things like
that. It was just like home. (A clip of Michelle at Nationals
is shown. Background comments from Peggy “Wonderful!” and Dick
“Wasn’t that nice?”)
MK: I skated
before her and after I skated, I was still nervous. Why am I still
nervous? And then a few skaters later I had to watch Karen and
that was like the worst thing in the whole world to watch your
sister skate. (Karen is shown skating and then finishing her
program.) I was able to come to the Kiss and Cry and keep
her company while she got her scores. It was fun.
KK: We have
a great family and we talk about everything and you know we help
each other out. That’s just a great feeling to have, skating or
wins the National Championships and Karen finishes fifth. In a
few months, 15 year old Michelle would be a favorite to win her
first World Championship in Edmonton. This would be one of the
most critical moments of her career, her transition from child
MK: For the
next few years was a real good time for me to start growing up
and to start maturing on the ice.
FC: I think
for all girls that reach maturity, you know, as an adult… skating
is difficult because their body balance changes a lot. You know,
they suddenly have curves where they didn’t have them before.
Suddenly their axis of rotation is different and frequently their
careers are over. I mean if they don’t stay lean and mean, they
just can’t jump any more. It’s a very difficult transition for
women in figure skating to go from being a child to being an adult.
BG: An even
greater peak was reached a few weeks later for Michelle Kwan when
she won the 1996 World Championship in Edmonton.
MK: I know I
was only 15 and yet I was bold enough to do this program called
Salome. Something that no one’s ever really done before, something
that’s completely out there. It was a great time because I was
able to…shock everybody.
to Salome, and it was the kid with the pony tail now was the Biblical
temptress. And we all…basically I was among those who laughed
at her, who said, this is improbable, totally preposterous. How
are you going to pull this thing off? (Show Michelle skating
to Salome.) By the time she finished those four minutes in
Edmonton, at those World Championships, she was Salome. This little
kid who you thought could never pull that off had all of a sudden
assumed the role. You just never thought of Michelle Kwan, the
dance of the seven veils, you know, being able to do something
so sensual that would bring her the head of John the Baptist.
But she did!
(A clip from '96
Worlds broadcast of Salome, with Peggy
Flemming saying "Wow!" Then Dick
Button saying, "What an extraordinary performance. There
was not a single flaw there. She gave nothing up, nothing, with
that performance. Absolutely the best.")
BG: When Michelle
was not competing she would tour with ice shows around the United
TC: We had her
on the tour with Champions On Ice and she skated in 75 shows for
us. We rehearsed before the show on a nightly basis. But she would
come in, in the afternoon, earlier before anybody else got there
and would skate, just to get the extra time in. And when there
were days off, uh she would find an arena or an ice rink and skate
at that rink. Now this is in the middle of doing 75 shows. So
she really worked at her craft.
BB: The thing
I like about Michelle, its about skating, it's not about playing
to an audience. Michelle is sort of the type that goes out there,
and um, she’s like I’m going to skate great for you and if you
want to clap for me you will and I’m gonna just sort of be out
there doing what I do best. And personally that’s what I really
like seeing from a skater.
you need to start fresh in skating. You don’t want to stay the
same. You don’t want to get stuck in a rut and do the same thing,
even...even if you’re comfortable its nice to just throw new things
into a recipe. Spice it up a little bit.
(A clip from '96
Worlds broadcast of Romanza is shown, with Dick Button saying
"Oh look at that expression as she looks over her shoulder.
Isn’t that wonderful?")
(A clip of Michelle
from '97 Nationals, starting with the opening pose from Taj Mahal..
Bud’s voice starts as they continue to show Michelle skating)
BG: It was at
the 1997 nationals in Nashville, Tennessee that Michelle Kwan
faced her greatest test. She was the defending national and world
champion coming into the competition, and with those titles came
added pressure. She was no longer an underdog, but the skater
everyone had to beat.
MK: '97 was
a tough year for me. Seems like I had something to lose or something
to prove and the only place to go was down.
(A clip of Michelle
falling during her long program at Nationals is shown. Dick Button
commentating: triple toe, double toe, and then a fall off the
end which was absolutely unnecessary and uncalled for).
PH: What happened
in ’97 was she had some struggles and throughout that fall season
of ’97 you know, was Michelle, wasn’t Michelle, was Michelle,
(back to clip of
Michelle at ’97 nationals stepping out of a jump, Dick: Oh, now
that was a problem, that was a problem. Peggy Flemming: triple
flip. Terry Gannon: Now she fell twice in the warm-up, you remember
MK: I had to
relearn, sort of that, mental attitude, of that there’s nothing
really to lose because it’s not yours in the first place. So every
year it’s fresh and new and umm, it’s a competition, you win some
you lose some.
(back to clip of
her ’97 long program at nationals as Michelle goes into her final
pose. Peggy: very solid at the end, ugh, what a difficult night.
DB: Listen everyone has to do this once and awhile, she did it
tonight. And you know, I don’t think that affects the overall
level and quality of her skating. This just wasn’t her best performance
by any means).
She was, I think, devastated. And It’s a whole different experience
when you’re the favorite, when you’re not the favorite you can
have a lot more fun.
(Clip of Michelle
and Frank in kiss and cry after ’97 long program. MK: I tried
not to panic but…FC: I know, and that’s alright, you know you
can’t be perfect all the time. You can’t be that hard on yourself.
MK: I know. FC: You came back you did a nice salchow, nice toe
loop at the end…MK: Why did I chicken out on these FC: Well, I
don’t think you chickened out, you went for the loop, you took
a bad fall, but you can’t you know...)
FC: You know,
it takes a lot of strength to be able to stand out in front of
eighteen thousand people and do seven triple jumps (clip of
Michelle and Frank in K&C looking at her marks) and to do
a fabulous performance as Michelle has done time after time after
time. I think people are very, very wrong if they ever count Michelle
down, because she’ll show up fighting and she’ll persevere.
Kwan finishes the competition in second place. Tara Lipinski is
the new national champion. As the 1998 winter Olympic games approached,
(clip of Michelle practicing is shown), Michelle went through
her daily practice sessions. An endless routine that always holds
the possibility of injury.
MK: The ’98
season was a little difficult for me because my foot started hurting.
I ignored it for a couple of months. Then after awhile the pain
started getting worse and worse then found out I had a stress
fracture in my left foot (clip of Michelle, with a cast on
her foot, and her mom) so they put me in a cast. And you have
Nationals to qualify for the Olympics, you can’t take three weeks
off. And you’re sitting at home doing nothing! Just hoping that
after you take your cast off and get your skates on you’ll be
FC: She did
go to the doctor, and he made some very strong recommendations,
he more or less said if you do exactly what I tell you to do,
you will be able to skate in the Nationals, and if you don’t you’ll
probably miss the Nationals and the Olympic games. So that sort
of terrified her a little bit and she did exactly as she was told
(clip of Michelle, with her cast, sitting on the couch reading).
But! In December, I can remember her first time getting on the
ice without the cast and trying to skate (clip of Frank and
Michelle talking) on the leg and burst into tears and said,
“I can’t do this, I just can’t do this!” It shocked me because
Michelle was always very positive (clip of Michelle testing
out her leg at practice with Frank), and it took a little
bit of calming her down and saying look you know you take one
step at a time one day at a time and it will get better. You know
you just feel very weak because your leg has been in a cast and
those muscles haven’t been used, but it’s going to work out, you
have to believe that you can do it, and you will do it!!
(clip of Michelle
at skating Lyra Angelica at ’98 nationals is shown)
BG: It is January
1998 the long program at the women’s nationals in Philadelphia.
For Michelle Kwan this will be the first major test of her foot.
The cast was only removed six weeks ago. The top three finishers
at these Nationals will qualify for the Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
MK: ’98 nationals
I remember a few reporters saying “Oh, Michelle’s still not ready
yet.” Or I didn’t show up for a practice the morning of the short
program they said “Oh I think she’s going to just withdraw because
of her pain.” There wasn’t much expectation but I knew that I
was getting better and better and that I felt stronger and stronger,
I felt ready even though I only had a few weeks to prepare, felt
FC: It was very
iffy and chancy ugh...because it was a matter of well alright
maybe we have time for the leg to really heal, but will it be
strong enough to get her through. (clip of Michelle skating
her long program) And, of course, at the Nationals part of
the great drama of that championship was that the last jump in
the program was a triple toe loop which was off the left leg,
and that was the thing that injured the leg to begin with. And
it was very, very hard for her to pull that jump off, but to win
she needed to do it. (clip of Michelle going into the triple
toe loop at Nationals is shown). And of course she did it
perfectly and of course the Nationals was one of the greatest
performances that a women has ever given in the history of our
entire country and it was just brilliant.
(clip of Michelle
skating the ending section of Lyra Angelica at '98 Nationals is
BG: When the
competition is over, she has set a standard that perhaps will
never be duplicated. (clip of Michelle in the kiss and cry,
waving to the crowd as her marks are read). Her marks for
artistic impression astound even the judges, who gave her 15 perfect
scores of six. To this day, this performance has been called the
gold standard for future generations of figure skaters. For Michelle
Kwan there is an additional history connected to her victory.
(Clip of Peggy Flemming on the podium at Nationals in Philadelphia
in 1968 is shown.) It was thirty years ago here in Philadelphia
in 1968 that her idol Peggy Flemming won the Nationals then went
on to win the gold medal in Grenoble (various clips of Michelle
signing autographs, at a photo shoot are shown.) Since her
victory in the nationals, Michelle’s free time is limited. Now
she attends photo sessions, scheduled around her practice sessions
and her photograph adorns the covers of countless magazines both
here and abroad.
(clip of Michelle
and Tara ’98 Olympic practice session is shown)
BG: It is February
13, Nagano Japan. The American women figure skaters arrive for
their practice session. In five days the women’s competition for
the gold medal will begin. There is much speculation from the
press that the battle for the gold medal will be between Michelle
Kwan and Tara Lipinski of the United States. At the press conference
afterward, she hears disturbing news (clip of Michelle and
Frank at press conference) about Peggy Flemming (Reporter:
"Peggy...she has breast cancer." A shocked expression
is seen on Michelle’s face. Reporter: "She’s okay, she’s
okay. She’s going to have radiation, but she’s going to be okay.")
PF: She was
SO thoughtful. She called me from Nagano, and I’m at home, you
know, going through my treatments. And I’m answering the phone
and she goes, “Hello this is Michelle” and I’m going Michelle,
Michelle, MICHELLE! (Peggy laughs) You’re in Nagano, you’re
suppose to be thinking about the Olympics not me! (clip of
Michelle lacing her skates) And I just thought, it really
to me back of you know what a sweet person, what a giving person
and thoughtful person she was. When she’s up against the toughest
competition, that she thought to call me to see how I was doing.
And I reassured her I was doing fine and wished her all the best
of luck there and to concentrate on her skating!
(clip of White Ring
figure skating arena in Nagano Japan, and then the skaters taking
the ice for the ladies long program warmup.)
BG: It is Friday
evening February 20, 1998. The White Ring figure skating arena
in Nagano, Japan. Thousands in the stands and millions throughout
the world will soon witness the four minute long program that
will decide the winner of the ladies figure skating gold medal.
In first place after the short program two nights ago is Michelle
Kwan of the United States. Followed by her teammate Tara Lapinski.
With Maria Butyrskaya of Russia in third, then Lu Chen, China
in fourth. Kwan’s first place position is a result of eight of
the nine judges placing her first after the short program. The
short program is worth one third of the final score with tonight’s
long program worth two third’s. It is well known that any of the
top three women in the standings can win the gold with a first
place finish tonight.
MK: The short
program is always difficult because what skaters always say is
that you can’t win with the short program but you can lose with
the short program. You always want to place in the top three in
the short so you have a chance of winning in the long. And I was
in the prime spot. I won the short, felt solid on the ice, felt
great the audience was awesome.
(clip of Michelle
being called to the ice to skate her long program Lyra Angelica
at the Olympics is shown.)
BG: Of the possible
medal winners, Michelle will skate first in the long program.
This is not an enviable position. The other skaters in contention
will know what marks they have to beat. Michelle Kwan is not concerned.
(clip of Michelle starting her long program)
MK: I was first
to skate in the short program so I had really good energy, I said
“I can skate first in the long program it would be no problem.”
Ilia Kulik won the men’s at Nagano also chose first to skate in
the short and first to skate in the long, so I was like, this
is good karma, this is perfect.
(clip of Michelle
skating into her triple lutz/double toe combination during the
PF: I love Michelle’s
skating, a lot. And I think she encompasses what our sport stands
for, is athletic and artistic and she blended the two so beautifully.
BB: The thing
that I like most about Michelle’s skating is that I have never
seen a women so capable of interpreting music the way that I’ve
seen Michelle do it, it was just so magical.
MK: In the middle
of the performance I realized you know, this is the Olympics.
I mean I did every jump solidly, landed with ease and everything.
But there was something that was missing.
FC: I felt that
she did kind of hold back a little bit, and tried desperately
to be consistent and to do the job right. You know all the other
sports, you know, skiing, and speed skating all of them it’s like
going for the gold, go, go, go and I think that’s what was missing.
MK: I finished
the program and I started to cry because I landed all my jumps
didn’t make a mistake, and I felt like I went to Japan to do something
and I did it, and I accomplished it. So I was kind of swept with
BG: Her scores
are high, but there is room for her to be beaten. She is still
in first place after Irina Slutskaya (clip of Irina skating
her long program) and Lu Chen finished their routines (clip
of Lu Chen skating her long program). Finally, the next to
last skater of the evening, Tara Lipinski, the only one left who
can beat her (clip of Tara skating her long program)
MK: I wasn’t
able to watch the rest of the skaters, because for me, I don’t
feel that it will help me because I don’t want to wish a skater
bad, I don’t want them to fall, because I know they’ve worked
just as hard as I did.
BB: Tara came
on and just was like literally a rocket was lit under her, and
she came out you know determined and someone who was after something.
And she skated her brains out
TC: Tara Lipinski
possibly, quite possible skated the performance of her life. I
don’t think she skated that way before, I don’t think she skated
that way since.
PF: Tara was
full energy and ambition and spark and you know her jumps weren’t
as high but you know they were really solid and quick and small.
Umm and that was a different style of skating than Michelle so
it was just a matter of opinion and the energy level that they
gave (clip of Tara getting her marks and screaming for joy
when she realizes she won)
MK: I heard
the marks and found out that I ended up second. It was difficult
because I really had to get myself together and realize you know
that second isn’t so bad.
BG: The final
placings Tara Lipinski first, Michelle Kwan second, Lu Chen, China
third. Afterward the award ceremony.
(clip of Michelle,
Tara and Lu Chen during the medal ceremony)
MK: I was congratulating
Tara, ‘cause she skated amazing. And Lu Chen. And I remember standing
on the podium proud that there were two American flags being raised,
hearing the anthem. And I felt proud of myself cause I was able
to skate as well as I did.
FC: I think
you could have called it either way and I think probably 50% of
the people in the world did exactly that. They called it one way
or the other, and I think she grasped that, you know, that she
had to accept this and be gracious and congratulate Tara, whom
she always liked and got along with very well, and to be gracious.
And I think she pulled that off very, very well.
PH: From the
way she handled the defeat in Nagano was so stunning, there was
no ranker, no I got robbed, no I could have done a lot better,
no anything. She said I did the best I could, Tara won the gold
medal, of course I would have wanted to win it, but she just handled
that so wonderfully. But viewed as a performance, that was as
stunning a performance as any she’d ever given on the ice.
one columnist wrote, “Of all the losing locker rooms I have visited
in two decades as a sports writer, I have never seen anyone cope
with crushing defeat with more poise, dignity and maturity, than
a teenage girl named Michelle Kwan.”
Her loss to Tara Lipinski at the 1998 Olympics was a disappointment—she
had done everything, won everything, everything that as a child
she’d dream she would win.
MK: Ever since
I was really young, I remember going to school. Most of my friends,
and pretty much the whole school, knew that I skated. They’d ask
me, like, what I wanted, and what my dreams were, and I said to
win the Olympics, and to go to the Olympics. My biggest dream
was to represent the country and go to the Olympics.
BG: With the
Salt Lake City 2002 Games still four years away, 17-year-old Michelle
Kwan decides to stay in competition and continue to seek her goal.
MK: It was not
a difficult decision at all. At that moment, I knew that it wasn’t
the end of my skating career. I wanted to keep on competing, and
I’m glad I’ve made that decision to keep on going to Salt Lake
City, because competition is where my heart is at this moment.
It’s where it satisfies me the most.
KK: Since she
was little, she’s always talked about the Olympics and the Olympic
dream and having all of that. And at Nagano, maybe she felt that
she held back a little bit. And I knew that she was going to do
this, I mean that she was going to go all the way, that she was
going to compete another four years and get to Salt Lake City.
the 1998 Olympics, in the years leading to the Salt Lake Games,
Michelle Kwan won four National Championships and three World
I think Michelle’s decision to stay in the Olympics really speaks
for itself; it really says a lot, it’s a real statement. She’s
not just a skater that wants to perform and do shows, but truly
what makes her tick is to compete.
You had a lot of champions who sort of won and left the scene
and turned professional, and I just really respect this in her,
because you can tell she has an athlete’s heart. You know, she
wants to go out there and compete, and she competes to win.
BG: On October
23, 2001, Michelle Kwan announces that she will end her nearly
ten year relationship with coach Frank Carroll. After an emotional
meeting, Michelle told Carroll she wanted to go it alone.
FC: Well, we
skated a competition down in San Diego. And she did not skate
well. And afterwards I felt we should have a meeting and that
we should discuss it. And she called me later that evening and
said, “Tomorrow I’d like to work by myself, I’d like to go to
the rink and just work by myself.” And I said, “Fine, no problem,
just call me when you need me. I’ll be over on the other rink,
and I’ll come over when you need me and I’ll help you.” And the
week went by and she never called me. And so Friday, she came
in with tears in her eyes and we sat down and talked. And she
just said that she wanted to do this on her own; that she felt
that she needed to be strong enough to do it on her own and to
get out there and win on her own; that she didn’t want to rely
on me and she didn’t want to rely on her father and her mother,
and that it was something that she had to be strong enough to
do by herself. And so that was really the last time, you know,
I was involved with her as her coach.
is probably the only athlete in the world that could probably
go to the Olympic Games without a coach. I think Michelle can
win in Salt Lake. I really do. You know, you go out there and
perform, you know, all by yourself in the center of the ice. You
can’t have your coach holding your hand when you go out there.
He can say some encouraging words right before you step out, but
you have to go out there yourself.
PH: I think
Michelle is pulled in a lot of directions right now. I mean, she
has a chance to be known as the greatest skater never to win an
Olympic gold medal. Michelle has got all those other titles behind
her name—all the national championships, all the world championships,
all the dazzling performances, and it would be a shame if that
was the one thing that was left out of her resume.
MK: There are
some people who truly believe in me, believe that I can do it,
and there’s some people who don’t believe in me, but I guess it
all doesn’t matter as long as I believe in myself, and believe
that I can do it. It’s not that easy putting yourself in a situation
where the demands are so high. And you have to keep up with it,
and in order to keep up with it you have to train certain hours,
you have to eat a certain way, you have to travel, you have to
do a lot of things. I’ve always learned through my parents, through
my family, that skating is just a sport. And you put it in perspective
that the only reason I entered this sport was to have fun. And
sometimes, it’s stressful at times, but then I realized, you know,
I want to look back as the time of my life.
It is 4 PM, Saturday afternoon, Staples Center, Los Angeles California.
18,000 spectators fill the stands for the final night of the ladies
championship, the four minute long program that will determine
the three skaters that will represent the United States at the
Salt Lake City Olympic Games. Two days earlier, the 2 minute short
program was contested, representing one-third of the final score.
After the short program, it became evident that four women would
battle it out for the three places. The crowd cheers its favorites
as the skaters take their warm-ups before the competition gets
In first place after the short program, Michelle Kwan. By the
luck of the draw, she will skate first. Skating first is an obstacle
for many skaters. Not so for Michelle Kwan. Among the leaders,
she had been the first to skate two nights earlier in the short
just has this energy on the ice, and she just sparkles on the
ice. She loves every aspect of skating, and the competing, the
training, the jumping, everything about it. There is just so much
joy and this energy that she has that just kind of captures people's
MK: There is
something about competitions that gets me revved up, and sort
of hungry. That drive, that intensity that you feel, so powerful,
you feel that on fire sometimes. And that's what we athletes hunger
BG: Now, here
in the long program, she is near perfect. But the judges, by tradition,
do not normally score perfection for the first skater. Room must
be left for the subsequent skaters to equal or surpass the first
performer. Now, tonight, Michelle Kwan is matching her impeccable
skate of two nights before. In a rare happening, two judges give
Kwan a perfect 6 for artistic performance.
Twenty-one year old Angela Nikodinov, who was in fourth place
before the evening program began, follows Kwan. For the past two
months, Nikodinov has been emotionally spent. Two months ago,
her beloved coach died of cancer. Coach and pupil had been inseparable.
Now, her new coach is Frank Carroll, who Michelle Kwan dismissed
earlier. Sasha Cohen is next. She is as brilliant as expected.
She moves past Nikodinov into second place behind Kwan. Now the
drama begins. Kwan and Cohen are certainties for two of the three
places. Now it is time for 16-year old Sarah Hughes. She too is
sensational, as she was two nights before. She passes Nikodinov.
The tragic recent life of Nikodinov continues. She fails to make
the Olympic team.
The Olympic team: Michelle Kwan, Sasha Cohen, Sarah Hughes.
MK: When the
history books are written, I don't want to be known as just a
person who won '96 Worlds, who won '98 Worlds, who won 2000, 2001.
Titles are great, but I think the best thing is who the person
was, and what she brought to the sport. I think when everything
is said and done, and I'm done with skating, I hope that the years
that I did skate I brought inspiration to people, brought joy,
happiness, and just made people feel good.
FC: Well, I
hope she'll win the Olympic Games. You know, I kind of wish I
would be there with her. You know, that to me is disappointing.
But, I think if she has to go it alone, if that's the route she
thinks she has to do, then she has to do that. I think Michelle
Kwan is the greatest woman skater in the world. I think she is
one of the greatest of all time. I think she's a legend in her
own time, and I don't think anybody can touch her in skating.
And I'll be with her there in my heart, and I just hope she skates
up a storm.
BG: So once
again Michelle Kwan will enter the Olympic arena with an incredible
record: four World Championships, six National Championships,
five in succession. A career that has seen her reach perfection
27 times with perfect 6's, three times more than her idol, Brian
Boitano, received in his entire career. But win or lose at the
Salt Lake City Olympics, Michelle Kwan will smile the good smile,
and celebrate with the personal knowledge that she has done her
best, fulfilling the centuries old adage reserved only for very
special people. The words: "The honor should not go alone to those
who have not fallen, but all honor to those who fall and rise