The day before
the ladies short program at Nationals, Michelle taped an interview
for "SpotLite," a program on a local sports network. It
was broadcast right after the ladies short program.
A clip of her practicing
her short program at Lake Arrowhead is shown.
Welcome back to “SpotLite” everyone. I am Michael Barkaan, and we
are very pleased to have with us the 1996 World and US National
champ Michelle Kwan. And, uh, we hope, we think, the, perhaps the
champ this year, and perhaps the Olympic champion. How’s your training
going coming into this event?
(Since she just came from practice, she is wearing her warmup
jacket, and her hair is in a bun.) Well, um, my training’s been
going good. My injury has slowed me back a bit, but, um, everything
else is OK, and, my head...it’s OK mentally. And, um, physically,
I’m very prepared.
made a lot about this injury is it...is it, uh, bothersome enough
that it will keep you from doing your routine as you like to do
MK: (A clip
of her skating on the ‘97 tour is shown) Um, there was some
question about it...if I was going to compete. But, you know, in
my mind, I knew I was going to com...that I can be here, and I knew
that I can do it, and pull it off. (She laughs)
MB: How is this
different, this week, from the rest of the weeks of the year where,
where you are doing events that are not nearly as high pressure
MK: Well, Nationals
is always, um, very difficult because you’ve got to make it to the
Olympic team, right? It’s...it’s a harder competition because I
mean we have another World champion that I am competing against,
and there are a lot of great skaters out there.
MB: You speak
about another World champion. This time four years ago, you were
on the Olympic team, you were ready to go to Norway. In fact, you
did go to Norway. (She shakes her head yes and smiles.) And
then, all of a sudden, at the last minute, you get yanked. When
you look back on that, what...what comes to mind for you?
MK: Well, I remember,
having been through that experience, it was like...I didn’t know
what was going on. I didn’t know if I was going to compete, if I...if
I was going to just be sent there, but, eventually I got sent there
just in case anything would happen. And after the draw of what order
to skate, I knew I wasn’t going to compete. So, I had to be the
spectator and just sit up in the nosebleeds and watch. (She looks
upset and laughs.)
MB: You were 13
at the time?
MB: What was the
sense of...was there a lot of disappointment, or did you feel...
“Well, I’ll get another...I’m going to get my shot in ‘98?”
MK: There was
some disappointment. I mean, as being a skater, I was like, why
am I not out there? Why can’t I compete? But, then I thought to
myself, you know, I’ve got my chance in ‘98.
MB: If you skate
your best here, you will undoubtedly go on to make the Olympic team,
and, perhaps, get the gold medal in Nagano. If you don’t skate your
best, though, many feel your going to make the team anyway. Do you
feel that confidence there...knowing your going to make this team
MK: I mean it
helps knowing that you will be there and compete at the Olympics,
but they said to me, you know, you can have a bye and go to Nagano
without competing at Nationals. But, I thought, “No way!” I want
to earn this spot. I want to deserve to go. (They show her practicing
her short program here at Nationals.)
MB: How do you
deal with the pressure of being the favorite to win the Olympic
MK: I think I
just have to put it in perspective and really think, “what are the
Olympics?” It’s just another competition. I’ve got to have fun,
and to go out there and really enjoy myself, and, I guess, savor
every minute of it. Because it’s only once in a lifetime when an
athlete gets to go. (They show her doing a sit spin on the practice
ice here at Nationals.)
MB: You started
skating at 5 years old. When did you begin dreaming of Olympic gold?
MK: I think it
was 1988 when I watched the Olympics. You know, there was Brian
Boitano who was representing the US. And I was totally rooting
for him and he won. And I was like, he won the Olympics. And I thought,
you know, “I want to go to the Olympics.” I never thought it was
going to be this hard! (She shakes her head.) But once you
get into it, you can’t look back. I mean, right now, I’m going for
my dream and that’s to represent the US and going to the 98 Olympics.
MB: I’m told you
wear a good luck charm around your neck. Where did you get it?
MK: (She shows
her necklace.) Well this was given to my...from my grandma.
It is a good luck charm. (She turns her necklace over.) On
the back it says “good luck.” So, I wear it all the time, and I
never take it off (She laughs)
(Another clip of her
practicing at Lake Arrowhead is shown.)
MB: And, finally,
what’s your life been like, your daily regimen, ah, when you come
to an event like this? Your hours. What time do you get up? How’s
your training going? And what time do you go to sleep every night?
MK: Well, it’s
very difficult. I mean, this is the easy part, being at the competition,
knowing your ready. But it’s hard when your at home, and you’ve
got to practice every day knowing that you’ve got to do it even
when you’re tired. I mean, the injury has slowed me down, and limited
me to skating as much as I used to. So, I wake up around 8 o’clock,
I take it pretty easy, you know. Skate at 10:15, come home, eat
lunch. Skate at 1:15, and then I go home, do homework maybe, take
a nap. Skate at 5:45 and then workout. By the time that’s all over,
I go to bed around 10, 11 o’clock.
MB: Your program’s
different this time right? You were very serious about your programs
in the past. And now, it seems, as you said earlier, you’ve lightened
up with the program.
MK: Well, I’ve
really lightened up the program. I mean, I used to have a
very dramatic, um, very different than every other skater. But now
I want to be free. I want to listen to the music and have goosebumps.
And I chose this music because, you know, in 8 years, I want to
look at...at my performance at the Olympics and think, “that was
me.” It wasn’t like a character I was playing, it was me.
MB: Well, I wish
you the best of luck. Thanks a lot. (She laughs, and then looks
right into the camera) Michelle Kwan was our guest.
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Photo © Jay Adeff