Matt Lauer did the interview with Michelle. She's dressed up all in black. Black pants and a sorted fitted at the top but baggy at the arms, black sweater. Also had on black high heeled closed toed shoes. Long earrings.

Matt Lauer: Twenty-three year old Michelle Kwan has defied gravity and now it appears she's defying age as well. Saturday night, in a flawless performance, she won her 7th straight US Figure Skating title, something no other figure skating woman has done. It was Michelle's 8th title overall. (Shows a clip of the last triple lutz and the entry into the footwork section.) Michelle Kwan, good morning, congratulations. I should say it 8 times. Congratulations, congrats. It's unbelievable. It really is!

Michelle Kwan: (laughing) Atlanta was unreal. It was such a magical, magical competition.

ML: I didn't get to see Saturday night but they sent me a tape of it and I'm watching the video tape and I'm curious, in your opinion, is that as close to perfect skating as you can come?

MK: Well the last couple of months have been great, working with a new coach. Umm. I don't believe anything is perfect, especially being an athlete. I mean we strive to be perfect all the time but, I mean I just felt wonderful. It was the vibration of the arena, the people, just everything all coming together.

ML: You even said in warm ups, you knew you were on. We hear that expression a lot. In terms of figure skating, what does knowing you're on actually mean?

MK: I guess it refers to being in the zone. I guess feeling the ice, feeling your legs, feeling that you can do it, believing in yourself.

ML: By the end of the program, maybe with 35-40 seconds to go, you had this incredible smile on your face. I was kind of saying, man she's getting cocky here. It's a little like to the judges, here let me get you an address where to send the trophy already. I mean, explain those last 35-40 seconds to me.

MK: Well when I landed the last triple lutz, the last hard jump. I knew that all I had to do was skate, and be free and just let it go. And the energy from the audience was just amazing. I mean they just were on their feet at the end. I was just running on the ice and I had so much energy. And it was the end of my program.

ML: Let me read this. 7 perfect 6s for artistry. I mean that gives you some kind of record, 35 overall in US championships but you seemed stunned when you looked up at the board and saw those numbers flashed up.

MK: Well when you're in the kiss and cry. Umm I was..(They show the kiss and cry while she's there waiting for her marks.)

ML: The kiss and cry is basically that little area right there.

MK: (laughing) I was laughing, I was crying. There were so many emotions that were all mixed up together. And just to see those marks, I mean what is 6.0? For a skater that's like...

ML: That's why I ask the first question. Is that as close to perfect as you can come? That is perfection in the eyes of the people who are the best judges around.

MK: (Michelle smiles trying to figure out what to say.)

ML: How do you answer that? I know.

MK: I just...All I was thrilled about was skating my best. And going out there and agghhhhh! I was like screaming at the end of my program. I was, I was off the walls.

ML: Statistics are boring for some people. Let me just reel something off. 7 straight titles. 8 overall. You've medaled at 11 straight Nationals, never finishing worst than 3rd at the Nationals. So, how far into the future can you keep up this level of performance?

MK: whew, jeez I'm 23 and I look around at Nationals and there are people who were a lot younger. Um

ML: You were a lot younger when you started.

MK: 13 yeah. So I see people who are actually shorter than I am. I'm like, Oh I'm feeling tall. But um, I don't know. I think it's just the passion. The sport itself. It is such a wonderful sport. It's something that's athletic and beautiful. And it's a great combination.

ML: Brian Boitano said he knew when he was done competing though. Something tells you, you know you're done competing. You haven't come close to feeling that yet.

MK: Brian's really a good friend of mine. And I just don't know. It's just the intensity that I like so much, the competition, just being out there in front of the audience. And I mean, why give up something you love?

ML: You talk about starting something so young. How about this? The peers of yours who have come and gone over the years: Nicole Bobek, Tara Lipinski, Sarah Hughes. I mean they aren't even in skating anymore. How about this? Nancy Kerrigan, who won the Nationals in '93, which I think was your first year you competed, was just inducted into the Skating Hall of Fame. She's in the Hall of Fame, you're still winning this! So when we look forward to 2006 and the Olympics in Italy?

MK: It could happen. I mean...

ML: It could happen? You won't say it will happen? See you there?

MK: Well I guess it makes no difference if I commit to it now or commit later on. It's just that right now I feel great. I'm just going to take one thing at a time. Working with a new coach and it's just been very inspiring. And I just hope to keep trudging along.

ML: Again congratulations. What a terrific performance. Good to have you here.

MK: Thank you.

Huge thanks to Chansamone for this transcript and screen captures!


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Photo Jay Adeff