Jay Leno: Last
week my next guest became the U.S. Figure Skating Champion when
she received 8 out of, um, (hits book on desk) 9 perfect scores,
making ice skating history. Please welcome Michelle Kwan.
Michelle walks out in a black
outfit with a rose down the middle of her shirt.
JL: Hey, it's
good to see you again.
on the big win. No one's ever won this big, right?
MK: Um, I don't
think so, uh, not since, the beginning of skating, I think.
JL: Wow you're
being modest. (Michelle giggles and falls back into her chair.)
I mean no one has, right? I mean describe the feeling now, set the
MK: Well, after
my long program , you know, I was so happy with my performance,
I was just like, "Oh my god, I can't expect any more." And then
I got there, and I saw the 6.0s and I was like, "Oh my god...am
I seeing this clear? Oh my god!" And, you know, I just wanted to
faint. My coach and I were like, ok Frank, catch me, catch me please.
JL: Well we have
the tape, lets show this, show the tape, here we go.
They show Michelle
and Frank at nationals receiving her scores. Audience cheers.
JL: That's pretty
amazing. That's the highest score ever, right?
JL: Now did you
like, human nature, did you say to yourself, uhhh, who gave me the
MK: Yes, of course,
you know a lot of friends ask me you know, who was that 5.9, who
gave you that 5.9? I'm gonna go tell 'em, and tell them to give
you a 6.0. I was like, I don't know, I don't wanna find out.
JL: See, do you
normally not know, or do you choose not to find out?
MK: I choose not
to find out
JL: Oh that's
MK: Because I
see the judges all the time, and I don't want to be like, you gave
me a 5.9? (puts her hands on her hips)
JL: And that's
like, one-tenth, it
MK: Yeah, it doesn't
really matter, but you know, it's how you skate
JL: Right right,
you had a fracture, right, not that far, before, how far, before
this event was your leg fracture.
MK: Well, I had
a stress fracture two weeks, um 2 months before the competition,
um, I had a cast up to here. (points to her left knee) I
wasn't able to walk around or anything. I was a little worried.
JL: A little worried?
MK: A little world,
JL: Now what's
the worst injury you've ever skated with? Would that be it?
MK: Yeah. Well
everybody says, it's, you know, the toe right here (points to
it), and everybody always calls it the famous toe. (She giggles)
The famous toe, you know everybody talks about, oh my god, she hurt
her toe, and toe, and toe, and.
JL: Yeah. Do you
pamper your feet, do you have like, awwwww, like sit with them in
ice or warm water or something? I mean, is it, cause skates are
rough on your feet.
MK: Well, I must
say that ballerinas and skaters have the worst, the ugliest feet
of all time, I'm serious, oh my god.
I found that true.
MK: Did you?
JL: I mean, really,
why is that, because it's all?
MK: Because the
boots, I mean they're so hard, it's like wearing a pair of new shoes
everyday. And it kills your feet, and you know, it may look glamorous,
you know, the tights, and, you know, the nice white boot, but it's
not. Inside it's stuffed with, like, cushion pads, and, you know
and bunions, and never mind
JL: Between you
and Kate, (Winslet) you've ruined all my fantasies.
JL: Let me ask
you about (pauses while audience claps) oh look honey, her
feet are full of bunions, when we're watching. Those are old bunion
feet. Now, you and Tara Lipinski of course, are huge rivals. Now
I guess she fell? Did you see that? Does that psyche you?
MK: No, I mean,
um, I went to the rink, I skated at the end, um, and you know, Tara
had already skated. I didn't really pay attention to anything, and
I just went, OK, gotta skate. That's it
JL: Do you try
not to watch the other competitors? Does it throw you off?
MK: I think it
throws you off, because whatever happens to them, happens to them,
you know, you gotta mind your own business, have tunnel vision and
JL: Right right
JL: So now you're
off to the off to the Olympics in Japan. This is your first time
her head) Well, I was the alternate in '94. You know, I was
thrown into the Nancy and Tonya thing.
JL: Oh, that's
right, that's right.
MK: I was the
alternate so, I was, um, just standing as an audience, just watching
JL: So that leg
fracture could've been a lot worse.
JL: So when did
you, now I would assume, this would be always be your dream to do
this, right? Now did you think you would like to do it one day,
was it not even in your consciousness, or as a small child did you
MK: I think that
when it really hit me that I wanted to go to the Olympics, was when
I watched Brian Boitano win the Gold Medal, and I was like, OK,
I'm gonna go to Olympics, I'm gonna go to Olympics (nods her
head), and I didn't think you have to go to Nationals, or work
hard, you know, I thought, OK I'm going to Olympics, that's, I'm
going to Olympics.
JL: You could
MK: Yeah, exactly,
JL: Now, OK, here
it is like a month before, do you get paranoid, do you worry about,
I don't know, catching a cold or falling down the stairs, or I mean
do you just try to go through life? (Michelle laughs) No
no, I mean seriously?
MK: I think it's,
um, I get very paranoid, you know, if someone's coughing or something,
I'm like (Scoots over in her chair and covers her face with one
hand) don't talk to me, you know, it's like I worry...
Burt Reynolds coughs
loudly toward Michelle
Michelle falls back
in her chair laughing and covering her head
Michelle hits Burt
BR:A little humor,
JL: Do you have
any good luck charms. Are you superstitious like that?
MK: I've got a
good luck charm around my neck that I always wear, given by my grandma...a
long time ago. (shows Jay her necklace)
JL: Oh that's
nice. (Points to it) Is that a Chinese symbol?
MK: Yeah, it's
JL: Oh, OK, yea,
that's neat, that's good
MK: I have a lot
of superstitions, you know, I have to tie my my left skate on before
my right, and things like that
JL: Now, why?
What happens if you do it the other way around?
MK: I, don't,
know. I've never tried it before!
JL: Wow, you're
gonna be like those crazy cat ladies when you're old.
MK: Yeah, I'm
like (pretends to tie her skates)
JL: Now what do
you do in your spare time? Have you seen Titanic?
MK: Oh, it was
KW: Thank you.
JL: You're 17
now, right? (Michelle nods.) You're 17, so you can't see
Michelle looks at
JL: Are you a
two thumbs up. (puts her thumbs up) Yeah.
(Screams come from
JL: Kind of a
crush maybe would you say?
MK: No no (laughs)
JL: Supposed he
asked you out. Would you go out with him if he asked you out?
Michelle looks at
Jay in astonishment, then nods her head real fast
KW: You asked
the girl a stupid question.
JL: I don't know,
I don't know.
BR: I'd go out
good luck, God bless you (shakes her hand)
MK: Thank you.
JL: We'll be right
back after this. Michelle Kwan
thanks to Chase Martin for this transcript!
to the interview, and check out this photo
the show taping.
for the audio clip.
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Photo © Jay Adeff