Michelle Kwan: (finishing an earlier thought) ...I believe that I would be 100% at the Olympics, and I still believe.

Moderator: Great. We will first open it up to questions from those here in attendance.

Reporter: Michelle, could you talk about the tension in this competition? I mean, you've never been in a situation quite like this, where it's like a performance, but there's no crowd, no one to maybe give you some of that adrenaline? Were you nervous, even though you've been through so many things before? And were you certain you had made the team after your performance?

MK: It was pretty intense this morning at the rink. Um, I know the judges very well, and this was a situation that I've never been in before. And, going into the rink with the media outside, I was, like, thinking: "This is a normal practice, okay, you can do it. You've done the jumps before." And so when I stepped out on the ice, I just got warmed up really quickly, and ran through my programs--triple flip, triple lutz...but, you know, you just finish skating and that's all you can do. Then you wait and see.

Reporter: Michelle, you did fall once during one of your--I think it was your short program.

MK: Mm-hm.

Reporter: When you fell, what was going through your mind? Did you think that maybe this was not going to be your year?

MK: Well, I fell on a double axel, and that's how I pulled my groin, so um... I started doing double axel just yesterday, so it wasn't, like, a planned thing. I wasn't even planning on doing a double axel, but I was feeling good, and I was like, "Okay, I'm just going to put it in today, and do it." So when I fell--it wasn't like, "Oh! The world is coming to an end!" It was just--"Okay, pick myself up"--I did the next element, which was the triple lutz-double toe.

Reporter: Michelle, this was a case where it really wasn't like a national competition, with the audience, the crowd, the judges, that type of thing. Did it feel harder, did it feel easier, did you feel a...unique type of feeling doing this type of tryout?

MK: Well, it was definitely unique. Um, (laughs) I got a call this morning, and it was from Nancy Kerrigan, wishing me luck, and you know, she's been in the same exact situation, where she was being monitored right before the Olympics--I mean, not the *same* exact, but she wished me luck and sent me all her good energy. And I felt, today, that I just had a job to do. I had to go through my programs, and, you know, there was no audience, no--nothing to, you know--no feedback, so that was difficult. But, you know, I try to stay...within myself, stay present, and just go through everything. You know, today wasn't the Olympics, so I felt like I--okay, go through my jumps, go through everything, just step by step.

Moderator: Operator, we will now open up the press conference for questions over the phone.

Operator: Thank you. Once again, if you'd like to ask a question over the phone, you may do so by dialing "*" followed by "1" on your touch-tone phone. That's "*1". We'll take your order--your questions in the order in which they are received. Our first question is from Philip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune. (MK makes a joking "Hey, I know that name!" kind of face, and starts laughing. Reporters in the room start laughing, too.)

Philip Hersh: I have fast fingers, what can I say?

MK: (laughs) Hi, Phil.

PH: Congratulations, Michelle.

MK: Thank you.

PH: Um, are you going to allow yourself now to think about filling in that one gap in your resume, the Olympic gold medal?

MK: The Olympic gold medal. You know, I couldn't even--I didn't even think past today. And right now I know I have a *lot* of things to work on, a lot of elements--spins, footwork, and it was nice to get feedback on all of them from the judges. Thinking gold is good. So I'm staying positive and feeling good, and, you know, injury-free, so right now it's just going for it.

Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Bill Ward of the Tampa Tribune.

Bill Ward: Hi, Michelle. I'm curious, from an athlete's perspective--abductor, or groin, muscles are some of the most difficult injuries to come back from. Were you confident going into that, that it wasn't going to bother you, and did you feel it at all afterwards?

MK: Well, I followed the doctor's order[s]--(waves off camera) thank you, Dr. Yu--I did a lot of ice, I did a lot of therapy...it is a common injury for athletes to pull their groin, and...I was confident when I put in the petition that I'd get 100%. I listen to my body every day and I get--I see improvement, I see that it's hurting less and less and then...today I feel 100%. So it shouldn't hold me back from now on. I'm going to go full force, and keep on trudging on.

Operator: Okay, thank you. Our next question is from Christine Brennan, of USA Today and ESPN.

Christine Brennan: Hi, Michelle, congratulations.

MK: Thanks, Christine.

CB: Um, two questions. One is: from Boston to now, from the event in December to now, what percent would you say you've been able to improve? You know, are you--if Boston was a starting point, are you [unintelligible]% of the way back to being the old you? Are you 75%? Any thoughts on that?

MK: I feel a lot better than I did in Boston. I've had a chance to really work more on my spins, more on my jumps, more on my elements. I've made a few adjustments on the footwork, but after getting feedback today, I know I have a lot to think about--some more intricate moves, and be more focused on the details, and--you know, taking it one step at a time. I've got a few weeks from now to the Olympics to when I have to skate, so I'm gonna take every second I can and use it up wisely.

CB: And my follow-up, Michelle, is: You had trouble, of course, with the new system the only time you've actually competed in it, finishing fourth at the Worlds, but very close to a bronze medal. Do you feel more comfortable with the new system and with the monitoring today and the suggestions? (MK starts to smile) I mean, do you feel like you're ready to go out there and skate, say, as you would have under the 6.0 system, under this new system?

MK: Well, last year was a different system for the National Championship, so I choreographed the program not according to the exact rules of, you know, the levels and...everything because I knew the Nationals was under the 6.0 system. And Worlds wasn't, so it was hard to adapt to the new system. But this year, working with Tatiana Tarasova, I made sure that the spins and the footwork and all the spirals were up to the new system, so I'm not too worried. And after getting feedback, I know that I have a lot to work on, but still that I shouldn't be worried about it.

CB: Okay, thanks.

MK: Thank you.

Operator: Thank you, our next question is from Elliott Almond, with the San Jose Mercury-News.

Elliott Almond: Hi, Michelle.

MK: Hello.

EA: Hi. You did your program[s] pretty much back to back, according to Bob Horen. (MK nods.) Um, why did you do that? I mean, a lot of times skaters say it takes a lot out of them, doing a program.

MK: Well, I felt that--you know, my stamina's pretty good, and I'm trying to get stronger endurance and...(clears throat)...so the last week and a half I've been doing long run-throughs, short run-throughs, and, if I can do [it], after the short run-through, I do parts. And that's not very common, for skaters to do so many run-throughs back-to-back, but I have only such a short amount of time that I can be on the ice because I don't want to keep on pounding on, you know, my back--just do it, right now. So I have to make sure it's quality, not quantity, so...that's why I do that.

EA: Thanks.

MK: Thank you.

Operator: I think our next question is from Alice Park, of TIME Magazine.

Alice Park: Hi, Michelle.

MK: Hi, Alice.

AP: We've talked to several other skaters--Olympic gold medalists, as a matter of fact--[who] have said it's a scary proposition to be going into the Olympics not having competed internationally throughout this season.

MK: Mm-hm.

AP: Now that Turino is a reality, are you feeling any more pressure, not having competed this season?

MK: Well, I've been in all sort[s] of situations before--you know, underdog and the favorite and you know, after so many years of competing, it's just going out there and skating your best, the seconds and the minutes that you're out on the ice. That's when, you know, the clock starts. And, you know, you just have to get yourself ready to that point where you don't have to think anymore, and just go for it. Today was like just a little test for me and I'm very lucky that I'm named to the team, and, I feel that I have a lot to work on and I'm going to try my very best to skate...from the heart.

AP: Thank you.

Operator: Thank you. Our next question is from Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Jeff Schultz: (stammering a lot--heavily edited) Hi, Michelle. There's gonna be some people who are not going to look favorably at this, that you were able to sort of take this unorthodox route to the Olympics. Do you have a reaction to that and to any criticism that there's already been?

MK: Well...I felt that I was in the criteria for the petition, that I had met it, and when I gave in the petition, you know, that's all I can do. I didn't make the decision; it was up to the committee, and, so, with the criticism...I can't do anything about it. Right now it's just the competition and the Olympics--going for it, and having fun.

Operator: All right, thank you. Our next question is from Jo-Ann Barnas of the Detroit Free Press.

Jo-Ann Barnas: Hey, Michelle, congratulations.

MK: Thank you.

JB: Um, a couple quick questions for you. I was seeing that you did four clean triples in the free skate today. Is that right?

MK: Yes.

JB: Okay, and how many do you plan to have for Turin?

MK: Well, today I'd planned on doing more, but, in Turin, six.

JB: In Turin, six.

MK: Yeah.

JB: Okay, and also, what time were you informed today? Did Bob [Horen] call you, and what was your reaction to the--I'm sure you got a phone call, but what time did that call come?

MK: Uh, I got home--(she looks toward someone in the audience)--what time? (mumbling to herself) About--three o'clock?

JB: About three?

MK: Yeah, just--

JB: Okay...

MK: Yeah, just a short amount of time ago.

JB: Okay, and then, do you plan on attending the opening ceremonies?

MK: Uh, I--(kind of looks back and forth wildly; obviously hasn't thought about it yet)--uh... (bursts out laughing) There're so many decisions to make right now! And I'm just...taking one thing at a time, could--I couldn't think, I couldn't think past, you know, this moment, so I... (pauses) Probably.

JB: Okay, all right, there's--

MK: There's a decision. There, yes. (laughs)

JB: All right. Okay, thanks a lot, Michelle. Congratulations.

MK: Thank you.

Operator: Our next question is from Gary Mihoces of USA Today.

Gary Mihoces: Hi, Michelle. (clears throat) Have you, by any chance, had a chance to speak with Emily Hughes?

MK: No, I haven't.

GM: 'Kay.

Operator: Okay, our next question is from Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Frank Fitzpatrick: Yeah, Michelle, you talk about how strange it was to be skating without an audience there. Besides yourself and the five judges, who else was present at the skate?

MK: Um, my sister...my mom... (looks like she's about to start laughing) ...um, people who work at the rink, um...the media outside... (laughs) ...um...my coach, of course. And--(listens to someone in the audience) USOC, my dad... (long pause) We should have a sign-in sheet. (everybody laughs) Oh, and two reporters.

Operator: Thank you. Our next question is from Jenny (?) Robinson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Jenny (?) Robinson: Hi, Michelle, congratulations. My question has already been answered, so thank you.

MK: Oh, thank you. (laughs)

Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Lynn Zinser of the New York Times.

Lynn Zinser: Hi, Michelle. It was interesting to--I don't know if you heard--that Bob Horen came out and said that from looking at you today, they believed you could win the Olympics... (MK stifles a grin) ...What does it mean to hear somebody say something that strong to you after what you've been through, and do you feel that way?

MK: That's awesome, because to see potential gold, that's--that's good to hear. Um, no, that, um--like I said, I have a lot to work on, a lot of improvement to make; [I need to] focus on the details, and I've got to take advantage of the seconds and the minutes before the Olympics.

LZ: But do you, I mean, do you have as much confidence as he seems to have in that regard?

MK: That is one of the reasons that I put in this petition, is...that I do have a shot. I don't know; I can't tell you what the percentage shot [i.e. what the odds are] of winning gold, but I have a shot. And I'll take advantage of that shot and try my very best, and I know that if I can pull off a triple-triple, if I can make all the levels higher, I will do everything that I can, in my capabilities, to make that possible.

Operator: Thank you. Our next question is from Amy Shipley of the Washington Post.

Amy Shipley: Hey, Michelle. You actually started to answer my question. I was wondering if you do plan to upgrade, particularly any of the triple-doubles to triple-triples? And if you do, or you don't, can you talk about how much that and any other upgrades would be contingent on your health or your ability to execute them because of the injury?

MK: Well, I've been on a very tight schedule; I wrote it down, making sure that I pace myself. And as of right now, I'm right on schedule, and I've gotta make a few more steps, and that is a triple-triple in my program. I know that several international skaters are doing a lot of triple-triples and more combinations, so I know that my chances are higher to get--to win, is to add in a triple-triple in the program.

Operator: Thank you. Our next question is from Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Bob Ford: Hi, Michelle, congratulations. I'm going to give you one more shot at the 6.0 system. If you were giving yourself a grade today for artistic (MK starts laughing) and for technical, what would you have given yourself?

MK: (joking) I'd give myself a six! (laughs) It's hard--

BF: I'm asking a serious question.

MK: Seriously? Um...Well, it's so hard to say, because I made a few mistakes, and I'm my worst critic, so I--I don't know, I can't put it in numbers. I know that--I'm just glad that...it wasn't competition today, because I don't like making mistakes.

Operator: Thank you. Our next questions comes from Martin Frank, of the Wilmington News Journal.

Martin Frank: Hi, Michelle. In the past two Olympics, you've kind of gone in as the favorite. And I'm not sure if the pressure with that was kind of hard to take and everything, but--do you have kind of a different feeling going into the Olympics this year because nobody's really talking about you as the Olympic gold medalist now or anything?

MK: You really, after a while, you have to think about it, and--[just] do what you can. I'm pushing myself every day and trying to be the best skater I can be. And whether people think I'm the favorite, or the underdog, it doesn't matter. 'Cause you know in your heart that you tried your best.

(Mod calls the end of the conference, and reminds everybody that the USOC reporters' notes will be sent out, and are also posted at http://www.usocpressbox.org .)

Huge thanks to aethera for this transcript! Hopefully I can add the first part that is missing soon!

Back to News / Transcripts
Photo Jay Adeff