Katie Couric: World Champion Michelle Kwan will be here. One of the most gracious athletes weíve ever had on our program. Sheís also the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history. We havenít had a chance to chat with Michelle since Salt Lake City, and weíre going to find out what sheís been up to, sheís been very busy, by the way, in just a few minutes.

--About 10 minutes later--

Katie Couric: A 22-year-old is the most decorated skater in U.S. History, and her name is Michelle Kwan.

The following clips are shown while Katie is talking:

  • Jump at Ď01 Nationals practice (from this session)
  • Final spin during Song of the Black Swan at Ď01 Nationals
  • Bowing after Song of the Black Swan at Ď00 Skate America
  • Blowing a kiss after East of Eden at Ď01 Nationals
  • On Ď96 Nationals podium
  • On Ď96 Worlds podium
  • Practicing at Healthsouth
  • Jump combination during Lyra Angelica at Ď98 Olympics, and hugging Frank after the program
  • Spiral during Scheherazade at '02 Olympics
  • Ď02 Olympics Podium and closeup of Michelle on podium
  • Triple flip during Rachmaninoff at Ď02 Nationals
  • Going into final pose after Song of the Black Swan at Ď01 Worlds
  • Waving after Lyra Angelica at Ď98 Worlds
  • Spiral during East of Eden at Ď01 Skate America
  • Spin at Ď01 Nationals practice (from this session)

KC: She's a six-time National champion, and a four-time World champion. Michelle Kwan has been in the spotlight since she was just 15. Throughout the years, her only weak spot has been the Olympics. A favorite for gold in 1998, she finished second to Tara Lipinski. And earlier this year in the Salt Lake City games, Sarah Hughes went for gold and got it. Kwan ended up a very disappointing third. But throughout it all, Michelle Kwan has kept her head held high, remained dedicated to the sport she loved, and is without question, one of the most gracious competitors in history. And that's what makes her a true champion.

Michelle and Katie are sitting on a bench in the middle of the Rockefeller Center ice rink, under a white Today show umbrella that Michelle is holding. Michelle is dressed all in black, with black gloves, and a black top that has the logo for ďDisney PrincessesĒ in pink on her left lapel. She is also wearing her skates, but she wonít be able to skate because of the rain.

KC: Michelle Kwan, good morning.

Michelle Kwan: Good morning

KC: Nice to see you, Michelle. Again, gosh, can you believe it's been nine months since the Salt Lake City Olympic games? I can't.

MK: I can't either.

KC: I feel like it was just yesterday when we were talking about how much...

MK: In Lake Arrowhead.

KC: That's right, where you train in California, about how much you really wanted to win the gold medal. (While Michelle and Katie are talking, more clips from Scheherazade, such as her triple salchow, spiral, and combination spin, and charlotte are shown.) And my heart broke, honestly when I watched you skate.

MK: Awww

KC: I mean, you were such a beautiful skater, but I know you didn't skate your best at the Olympic games. And the gold medal was elusive. How did you handle the disappointment, Michelle? I, first of all, thought that you did handle it beautifully, but you must have been crest fallen. Were you?

MK:I was in a way. In the short program I felt that I skated the best. Um, and then in the long program, I tightened up, I got a little nervous. Made two mistakes, and it just wasnít my best performance. And, you know, what can you do?

KC: The pressure is just so unbelievable, but of course, youíve been dealing with it since you were 7 years old, and started competing. Your first Worlds were when you were 13, is that right?

MK: (Shaking head yes.) Thirteen, yea.

KC: And, yet, you know, unlike a lot of skaters, you decided not to go professional. You still want to compete. And part of me is like, Michelle, how can you keep putting (laughing) yourself through this?

MK: (Smiling) Well, for one thing, itís great exercise. Skating is so much fun, and I spoke to Brian Boitano, and heís like, you just know when you want to turn professional, and do other things. But, for me, I love competing, I love the intensity, I love the pressure. And, itís just, Iíll miss it if I turn professional.

KC: You also, I mean, you had, you always talked about how great the Olympic experience is. (Michelle shakes her head yes.) And I know as I watched you on the medal stand, (clips of Michelle receiving her medal, and Sarah receiving her medal, are shown.) yet again sort of seeing someone else take the gold. Tara Lipinski got it the first time, and then Sarah Hughes the second, meanwhile, you won the bronze medal. Uh, that must have been, again, a tough situation. And yet...

MK: It is tough, because I always have dreams, um, of winning the Olympics, and being on top of the podium, and, you know, and seeing the flag go up for me, you know. And, then being, second, and then third. So close, but, you know, yet, so far. But, you know, as the saying goes, life goes on, and you enjoy it. And I love performing, I love skating in front of a crowd. And... (shrugs)

KC: Are, are you going to for it again at the next winter games? I mean...

MK: Nationals are in January, so itís just one year at a time. I figure Iím only 22, and (moving her hands around and making a face) I did the math...26 at the next Olympics...maybe, maybe. But, I feel like Iím in the best shape of my life. So, thatís why Iíve decided to compete this year.

KC: Well, weíd love to see you skate at the Olympic games. Meanwhile, you know, youíve gotten the awards out the wazoo, delicately put. Uh, this year youíve won the Sullivan award, which is the most prestigious award for an amateur athlete, the Teen Choice Award, Nickelodeonís Kids Choice Award and, just recently, CosmoGirl of the Year Award. (A still shot of the CosmoGirl article and picture is shown.) Now, these are awards that...they, they sound like they should go to a real winner, and I think itís indicative on how much people respect your, your sportsmanship, and your incredible grace. And, itís not really in defeat because(Katie laughs, and Michelle smiles), you won the bronze medal, and you did, you skated incredibly well. (Michelle nods) But I think you are a great role model for people on how to hand...handle yourself in tough and disappointing situations.

MK:Thank you. I just (shrugs)...you know, you win some, you lose some, and you always...

KC: And some you get rained out!

MK: I know! (Michelle raises her umbrella, and looks up. Both laugh.) But, I think itís just important to keep your head up high, and, just to keep on working, and that never giving up and enjoying yourself and having fun in whatever you choose to do.

KC: Well we are so glad to have you. I wanted to mention that you are here because, uh, you have become a spokesperson for Disney (Michelle smiles and nods her head yes) and you are doing an appearance for them in New York?

MK: Yeah, Toys ĎR Us! Um, actually, itís Disney Princesses, um, lineup like Cinderella, Belle, and, um, Sleeping Beauty. Weíre all going to be at Times Square Toys R Us and weíre all going to, um, light up a 25 foot tree. So, it should be a lot of fun.

KC: That should be fun. (Said at almost the same time Michelle says the same sentence.)

MK: Yea. Right.

KC: Now, you have stopped taking classes at UCLA, (Michelle nods) but you are going to go back arenít you missy?

MK: Yes, I know, I feel so bad (hits her left leg.)

KC: Donít feel bad. Iím not here to make you feel bad. But you are going to get your degree, of course?

MK: Oh of course, of course. Itís very important.

KC: Youíre just taking a little break?

MK: Yeah... actually, I feel kind of guilty because Iím at the rink but if I donít have enough time to really get the right education to get, get the whole experience ..youíll be half into skating and half into school and thatís not what I want to do and I just want to go full at skating, full at school and keep, you know, keep...

KC: Keep focus

MK: (Nods yes.) Yea, exactly.

KC: Alright. Well, Michelle its great to see you...

MK: Thank you.

KC: ...and thanks for coming by.

MK: Yea.

KC: (Katie touches Michelle on the arm.) And all the best to you, and come back and visit us again, OK?

MK: OK. I will. Thank you. (Michelle turns to the camera and smiles)

KC: And we will be back in a moment with more, but first, this is Today on NBC. (Katie moves closer to Michelle and waves at the camera)

Check out amethystbatgirl's screencaptures from the interview.

Watch a real video clip of the interview, courtesy of Moyesii!

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