Katie Couric: This past weekend in Nice, France, 19 year old Michelle Kwan, now a freshman at UCLA, won her third World Figure Skating Championship. She is the first American woman to win three world titles since Peggy Fleming did it back in the 1960s. In third place going into the finals, Michelle hit 7 triples jumps and out skated her two Russian rivals to bring home the gold for the USA.

The following clips of her skating during her long program at Worlds is shown: Triple salchow, layback, spiral, triple toe/triple toe combo, her end pose, and pumping her fists when she was done.

KC: And she looks pretty darn happy. Michelle Kwan, good morning. Congratulations!

Michelle Kwan: Good morning. (Michelle's wearing a black top with black pants, and black sandals with gems on them. Her hair looks nice, having more volume than how it looked at Worlds. The front of her hair is parted to one side, while the back is straight, but more volumized. Her ends are curled out a bit. You can see her lucky necklace through the neckline of her shirt.)

KC: How are you Michelle?

MK: I'm doing really well, except for a little cold. (laughs)

KC: Oh yeah, I bet. Well, tell me how it felt to win the World Championship for the third time, thanks very much.

MK: You it's funny because at this Worlds, I wasn't as nervous. Usually at a competition I知 thinking "Okay this is what I have to do, this is what..." And when I got on the ice I felt really calm, really at ease and really confident.

KC: Why do you think that was the case? Because you've done it twice before, was it not that important for you to win this one or...

MK: You know, usually you think about "Oh I wanna win, I wanna win," but this time it was different. It was more like "I wanna skate like I usually can...like I知 able to." So when I stepped on the ice I was like "okay here I go, ready or not" and I went on the ice with authority, and that felt really good.

KC: Well a lot of sports writers the next day said that your free skate was the best you had ever done. We've got some video from your free skate. Tell me about it and, and why you think it was so on target.

The same clips from her long program they showed earlier is shown again while Michelle speaks.

MK: Well, after Nationals, a lot of people were saying "Oh, Michelle is deteriorating, she's not doing her triple/triples, she's not doing a lot of elements that other skaters are doing," and, so the 6 weeks in between Nationals and Worlds, I worked really hard with my coach Frank, and we worked on the triple/triple and we worked on making my program more difficult. So at the Worlds I was ready and I just felt really good about myself. So I went out there and went "OK, here I come."

KC: You said you skated with authority. I mean, as you mentioned, some people were saying "um...she's a great girl, beautiful skater, but kinda washed up. Her best skating days are behind her." In a way did that motivate you even more to say "hold on folks (Michelle laughs) I still have it in me"?

MK: Yeah, that did motivate me. After Nationals people were saying "oh she's just a pretty skater and that's it. She's going to school now, she has other things to worry about, and she's not training as hard." But I was like "OK, I know I can do it." I believed in myself, and people around me like my mom, my dad, um, my family, and my coach believed in me also which helped me a little.

They show the following still pictures while Michelle spoke above, and while Katie talks below:

KC: As we've mentioned, this is the third time, it was a charm. You won the Worlds in '96, '98. You're good in even years. (Michelle laughs) You were only 15 when you won your first world championship. How have you changed as a skater, and how you approach your sport.

MK: There's a lot of things that I think have changed in my life. I've certainly learned a lot of lessons, and I've gone through ups and downs. Some good years on the ice, some bad years. And just knowing that in life it doesn't...it's not always smooth. And just enjoy every day, every moment, every second.

KC: How's college?

MK: Oh it's great. It is really great

KC: Do people sort of go (making whispering noises) when you walk around?

MK: No, not really.

KC: Do they treat you differently or do you feel like just another student?

MK: At UCLA it's like I just put a baseball cap on and I知 just one of 200 people in a lecture. So I知 having a great time. People are really nice, and....

KC: What are you studying? What do you hope to major in? Do you know yet?

MK: I would hate to say or declare anything right now because I知 still a freshman, and they say that you, um, change 3 times so...I'm thinking of psychology but who knows.

KC: Yea.

MK: I might end up with something else.

KC: I know you're taking the next semester off to skate with the John Hancock Championship on Ice. Why is that so important for you to do, and do you feel bad for missing school for that?

MK: I do feel bad missing school for that but, um, John Hancock Champions on Ice is a great tour. It痴 fun, I get to be with my buddies like Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill, and, we just have a good time. And it's really easy, it's laid back. It's also fun to perform in front of an audience all the time, every evening....

KC: Nice to get that fix.

MK: Yea, it is.

KC: Meanwhile what about the Olympics? Salt lake city is what, less than 2 years away. Are you excited about that?

MK: A lot of people have come up to me and said "Michelle, you go for it! I mean, you get that gold medal!" and that痴 not my mentality at all. The reason why I've chosen to stay to 2002, amateur in competing, is because I love competition. I love that feeling you get right before you skate. And, I don't think I would change that for the world.

KC: So wouldn't it be nice to have a gold medal to add to your collection.

MK: It would...I don't know...it...

KC: You don't even want to think about it. Too nerve racking?

MK: It is a little nerve racking to think about the Olympic moment. When I was younger, I thought winning the gold medal would be everything, and if I didn't win it my life would in be a wreck. But after '98, winning the silver, it's not...everything is not about the gold medal. And I understand that and I can appreciate everything I have right now.

KC: Well, you're a very wise young woman at a very young age. Michelle Kwan, it's always great to see you in person and always wonderful to see your beautiful skating as well.

MK: Thank you.

KC: And your powerful and authoritative skating.

MK: (laughs) Thank you.

KC: Thank you Michelle, nice to see you.

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