Letterman: Very Nice...When (clears throat) I was sixteen I had a paper route, see it's similar there. So tell us about the competition, tell us about that night, tell us about what happened immediately before, during and after your performance.

Michelle: (laughter) In one sentence?

Letterman: What, whatever you can do, just give us a feeling for, what you know, what it was like there.

Michelle: Well, before the competition all skaters were shivering; I was very nervous and Lu Chen who skated before me got two straight 6.0s and I was just like..

Letterman: (interrupts) 6.0 is the perfect mark?

Michelle: Yeah, 6.0 yeah and I was just like oh my god and then Frank says 'You can do it'.

Letterman: Who's Frank?

Michelle: My coach.

Letterman: Oh, your coach Frank, alright.

(Audience laughter)

Michelle: So I was just like...

Letterman: Just a guy hanging around named Frank.

(The audience and Michelle laughs.)

Michelle: So then I said 'Go for it all', you know, it doesn't matter - I'm not the reigning World Champion and went for everything.

Letterman: How often do they have the World Champion competition? Is it every year or every two years?

Michelle: Every year.

Letterman: Every year they have it. So you're thinking to yourself okay I'm 15, if I don't win it this year I still have plenty of opportunities to win it down the line but now you hear the perfect scores come up what does that do to you? Do you think 'uh oh' does that turn the pressure up or did you just say that takes the pressure away?

Michelle: I think it turns the pressure on but then I'm saying 'uh oh' I'll just try a quadruple axel. (laughs)

Letterman: Is there a such thing as a quadruple axel?

Michelle: No. (laughs)

Letterman: You're not exactly talking to Frank here, so I'm sorry.

(Michelle laughs. Audience hollers.)

Letterman: But now you went out there and you altered your skating program didn't you?

Michelle: Well it was planned to do a triple-triple combination at the beginning.

Letterman: Triple-triple? Have you ever had the triple-triple with cheese? Oooooh..that is some heatin'.

(Michelle laughs.)

Letterman: Uh so you were going to do the triple-triple.

Michelle: Yeah, so I did the triple-toe at the end when I didn't finish the triple-triple...with cheese.

Letterman: (laugh) Yeah I have no idea you are talking about but you pulled it off. And give us a little idea of what your life was like - when did you begin skating - at what age did Mom and Dad put the skates on ya?

Michelle: Well I was five years old...

Letterman: Five years old...

Michelle: ...Watching my brother play hockey and my sister was just watching with me and we decided, you know, put our skates on and try it out there.

Letterman: Right. So that was the first time you had the skates on. What happened that caused you to think and your folks to think and your friends and family to think 'Wow, maybe this is more than just a little girl skating around here. Maybe we've got a World Champion.'

Michelle: Well, I got on the ice and did a quadruple axel and right away...(laughs along with audience and Letterman)

Letterman: What?!?! What do you win for being the World Champion?

Michelle: Well, I got invited here, so that's one of the things!

Letterman: Ah, believe me, it's downhill after this.

(laughter)

Letterman: Do you win money? Do you win cash? You get a car? Get a speed boat? Stuff like that?

Michelle: Well I was...

Letterman: Malt Liquor?

Michelle: (laughs) well, I was invited to the White House.

Letterman: White House will be good, that'll be nice, yeah.

Michelle: And there was $50,000 dollars prize money so that was good.

Letterman: Good for you.

Michelle: And after this I'm on tour for three and a half months.

Letterman: Three and a half months of you skating wherever you go?

Michelle: Yeah, The Campbell Soups Tour.

Letterman: That's right..the uh..the Tour...you begin tomorrow the Campbell Soup 1996 Tour of World Figure Skating Champions, nothing to me says figure skating more than can soup.

(laughter)

Letterman: And also, you now have your sights set on the Olympics is that right? Now which would mean more to you? The World Champion or the Olympic Gold Medalist?

Michelle: (pretends to think about it) I don't know...(laughs) the Olympic Gold Medalist of course.

Letterman: You think so?

Michelle: Yeah.

Letterman: Yeah, that'll be nice. I couldn't be happier for ya, you're a lovely young girl and your family must be thrilled, you must be thrilled. Good luck you to ya and thanks for coming by.

Michelle: Thank you.

Letterman: Michelle Kwan, ladies and gentleman!

Listen to the interview, and check out this screen shot.

Huge thanks to Grace for this transcript and the audio clip!


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Photo Jay Adeff