the interview, around 8 am, they talked about who would be on the
Katie Couric: Also
coming up in this half hour, Michelle Kwan, the most decorated figure
skater in US history has done it again. She recently iced the competition-hhuuuh!…
(Matt, Katie, and Al, all in unison, say "hhuuuuh!")
Matt Lauer: God,
I missed that while I was away! (all three laugh)
…and won her firth- firth?- fifth! World Championships, Michelle
will be here- I was so excited about that little pun- in just a
in the half hour, the interview--
KC: Just two
weeks ago, the most decorated figure skater in US history added
yet another jewel to her crown. (A clip of Michelle from Aranjuez
at Worlds doing her triple toe/double toe combination, a closeup
of her after the program, and her in the kiss and cry after the
program, is shown while Katie talks.) Before a sold out crown
in Washington, DC, Michelle Kwan won her fifth World Championships.
It was a performance many called the very best of her career. This
22 year old has now won more than 40 major competitions,
including seven US National Championships and 2 Olympic medals.
Michelle Kwan, congratulations, it's great to see you!
(Michelle is smiling. She is wearing a beige, sleeveless V-neck
top, jeans, and thin black heels. Her hair is down. She looks radiant.)
Good to see you too!
KC: I saw you
the last time I guess in November, and since then you've won the
National Championships and the World Championships. So what's going
on, have you been eating your Wheaties or what? (Michelle laughs)
I mean it's so impressive.
MK: Oh! I'm still
on cloud nine, I mean its just been one great thing after another.
Um, its, the Worlds in DC, was just, amazing week, amazing.
(The following 4 pictures are shown while Michelle talks: Ladies
World podium, Michelle
waving on the podium, Michelle taking
a victory lap, and Michelle laughing
on the podium.) I just, I still can't believe it, um, to
this day. And then now I'm on Chevy Champions on Ice , having fun,
touring with a great gang of skaters and it's just, it's, it's awesome!
KC: What was
it about the Worlds that enabled you, I mean, was it just serendipity,
did everything just come together in the best possible way, Michelle?
You know, I've talked to you so much, and so many times before and
after big, big, big competitions, and it seems you never quite know
what's going to happen out there on there ice, but were the stars
properly aligned? What do you think accounts for your incredible
MK: Well, this
year my approach to skating was very different. Usually I have a
rigid schedule, I have-(Michelle makes motions with her arms)
ok I'm gonna do this competition, I'm gonna do this and this. (The
following clips of Michelle from Aranjuez at Worlds are shown while
Michelle is talking: Opening pose, triple loop, triple lutz, falling
leaf to spread eagle, layback to end of program.) But I played
it by ear, after such a long season, you know, with the Olympics
and the tour. I said, "ok, I'm gonna really take it easy and make
a decision based on how I feel," and, you know, without the competition
every month I was like, really, really missing it, so I decided
to compete at the Nationals and the Worlds and…
KC: But do you
think you were more relaxed about it?
KC: That you
weren't feeling so much enormous pressure. That must have had something
to do with it.
from Worlds ends, and the camera goes back to Michelle.) I think
this year my approach was just to have fun, enjoy the sport, figure
skating, and just put everything into perspective -- it's a sport,
go out there and have fun! -- and I think that it is the difference
KC: I know that
Peggy Fleming called your performance awesome, and Dick Button stopped
doing commentary for a moment, he just stood up in the booth and
applauded. (Michelle has a huge smile on her face.) And then,
afterwards, you just looked so ecstatic. Tell me what was going
through your mind as everybody was throwing flowers and you seemed
sooo happy and relieved. (Closeup from Michelle's end pose from
Aranjuez at Worlds is shown, along with the crowd, her bowing and
skating off the ice.)
MK: Well, I talked
to Dick after the long program, and he said, "At the very end, I
just started laughing!" (laughs) and I was like? (question
in her intonation) Well, for me, mentally, I didn't stop thinking
until I was in my ending pose, and I was like wow, that's it? (Clip
from Worlds ends, and the camera goes back to Michelle. You can
see she has tears in her eyes.) And to have everyone it the
arena stand up, the crowd was just, they were on fire, and I just,
like, it does not get better than this. So I had to savor every
moment of it, because I'm like, it's, its incredible! (Michelle
puts her hands to her face.)
KC: We should
put your championships, uh, your five World championships, into
a quick bit of perspective. You're the first woman to win five since
Carol Heiss did it back in the 1950s. (Michelle nods her head.)
Sonja Henie still holds the record for the most Worlds--she won
ten in the 20s and 30s. But what does it mean to be sort of side
by side with these great skaters in the history books?
MK: It's incredible,
(she shakes her head) um, I really don't know what to say.
I mean…I have been so fortunate in skating and, 10 years at the
Worlds Championships, and uh, (shrugs her shoulders) I just
try to enjoy myself, its, it's so hard for me to put it in perspective,
because I'm still going at it, I'm still…
KC: You're still
sort of in the moment. We have, speaking of being back in the moment,
we have tape of your very first victory (A clip of Michelle on
the 1996 Worlds podium is shown, along with a clip from Salome at
Worlds that starts at her lutz, and continues to when she skates
by the judges and stares.) at the world championships. It was
in 1996, you were just 15 years old.
MK: Ah! (almost
KC: Looking back,
what goes through your mind as you watch this tape?
MK: To see the
physical changes, and really, I, ah, I don't know? It's just, when
I see video tapes I'm like, that was me? But it just seemed like
yesterday, but yet it looks (clip ends, the camera goes back
to Michelle) like a long time ago.
KC: And nice
eyeliner there, by the way!
and covers her mouth) I had jewels! (points to eyes)
Both laugh hysterically
MK: -- inaudible--
KC: It was very,
it was very in back then. Before we go…
KC: …are you
having some fun? (Michelle shakes her head.) You have the
same boyfriend. I'm very nosy about this.
KC: You finished
one year at UCLA. (Michelle shakes her head.) You gonna go
back to school, Michelle? What's going on there?
MK: Um, well,
I have a long distance boyfriend, so that's kind of hard. Because
we both are, uh…he's a hockey player and I'm a figure skater, so
it's like, long distance, traveling and um…
KC: Well, ice,
so that's a good thing, right?
MK: Yea, one
similarity! But um, I really, really want to go back to school,
education is very important, and um, it's just finding the right
balance with skating, school and personal life. (She shakes her
head and smiles)
KC: Well it's
so great to see you again.
MK: You too.
KC: …and you
always, uh, are so wonderful and, uh, self effacing and, and humble
and, and I think a real example for so many athletes so, thanks
for coming by Michelle. (Michelle smiles) And I know we're
going to see if you're gonna skate (Michelle shakes her head)
in our next half hour depending on the weather, but we're keeping
our fingers crossed that you'll be able to.
**Due to the rain,
Michelle wasn't able to skate on the Rockefeller Center ice rink
as scheduled later in the show. She did, however, go and say thank
you to those who were at the rink to see her skate. This wasn't
on TV, but several from the MK Forum were there.**
to Splits from MKF for the majority of this transcript
(I added most of what is in italics)!
screencaptures from the interview.
a real video clip of the interview,
courtesy of Moyesii!
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Photo © Jay Adeff