They are at the Rockefeller Center ice rink
Michelle Kwan has won more prestigious figure skating titles than
anyone of her generation. She's the two-time US national champion,
two-time world champion, and the 1998 Olympic silver medalist. Of
course, yesterday, she won the Women's Sports Foundation's Sportswoman
of the Year. Michelle, congratulations. Good to see you. How are
(Michelle is wearing a black top with 3/4 length sleeves and
black stretch pants) Thank you. You, too.
KC: Tell me about
this award you were given last night, first of all.
MK: Well, it's
a really great honor, because it was a special award for me, because
it's from the Women's Sports Foundation. And back when I was younger,
when I was 12 years old, there came a point when skating expenses
were very expensive for my family, and they gave me a training and
travel grant, which helped many--it helped pay for many expenses,
so--which was good.
KC: And a lot
of very, very impressive women have been given this award before
you, haven't they? So you--you're in good company.
KC: People like
Janet Evans and all sorts of other star athletes.
MK: When they
told me who were named before, I just--I couldn't believe they announced
my name. I was like, 'You're saying that I'm this Sportswoman of
the Year?' I--I didn't know what to say. They were like, 'Say a
few words.' I was like, 'Hold on, give me a second.'
it's been a while since the--the Winter Olympics, and I know that
you were slightly disappointed that you took home a silver, because
you always dreamed of getting a gold medal. (They now show a
clip of Michelle skating 'Lyra Angelica' at the Olympics from the
second lutz jump until the ending pose where she teared up, while
Katie continues to talk.) How do you feel about the whole experience
MK: I look back
at it, and I think, WOW, I've been to the Olympic Games, and what
an achievement that is. And, you know, I went out there, I skated
my best. I had no regrets. You know, it was such a magical moment
that night. And I came off the ice crying, knowing that I did it.
Tara Lipinski has given up her amateur status. You have not. You
plan to compete again in the Winter Olympics. Why did you want to
still stay competitive?
MK: Well, I love
competing. And I entered the sport because of the competition, and
I thought, 'Why not try it again? 2002 is right around the corner,
and it's even in the United States.' So I thought, 'OK, I'll go
you're going to--we're going to see you skate soon, I guess, in
the next couple of months? Tell me about where and how you'll be
MK: Well, in December,
I have the World Pro in Washington, and I hope to be at the National
Championships and World Championships. And after that, I have--in
the spring, I have John Hancock Champions Ice--on Ice Tour.
KC: Which is great.
Meanwhile, you had a vacation recently in Hawaii, right?
MK: Yeah, in Hawaii.
But my tan is gone.
KC: For the first
time in a decade? That must have been nice for you.
MK: Yeah, it was
the first family vacation. We all went to Maui for two weeks, and
just laid on the beach and just did everything, parasailed and scuba
diving, snorkeling. We just did everything.
KC: Good for you.
And also, a new 'do. (Katie ruffled Michelle's hair)
KC: You went to
Sharon Stone's stylists and cut off your locks, is that right?
MK: Yes, it's
all gone. No more hair... (spoken tragically)
KC: I think it
looks great. Do you like it, does it give you more freedom, because
MK: Well, you
know. It's like you get out of the shower and you're done.
KC: Ready to go.
MK: That way you--yeah.
KC: I think it
looks great. Now, you're going to show us a couple of things this
MK: OK. I was
going to do a spiral, simple spiral, and then...
MK: ...a flying
camel. And then after me, you're going to show everybody, right?
KC: If we have
time. If we have... (Katie didn't look too thrilled at the invite...)
Michelle laughs and
then skates. She first does her spiral (gorgeous!!) and then does
the flying camel, which then turns into a sit spin, and then into
a Y-spin and she almost falls out of the Y and she ends it with
MK: Well, that's
it. Very simple. You want to try?
KC: You know,
I thought it was so great, I read that your coaches at one point
in time told you, when it came to performing on the ice, you had
to ooze, you had to think of...
coming out of the tube. Now, how, Michelle, has that helped you
in your performances?
MK: Well, when
I was very young, I always flopped through the movement, and I didn't
'ooooooooooze' the movement. And so, with the arms, it's a slow
process from (holding her right arm down) to here (holding
her right arm out straight to the side) So, it--it came out
from music and feeling.
KC: And the music
you choose is music you hope no one else has ever skated to before.
Is that right?
KC: You find some
pretty obscure music, don't you?
MK: I don't know
where my choreographer finds it, and where we come up with ideas,
but yeah, we try to get some complicated music, and very nice, and
KC: Well, I'm
glad you're doing so well. You graduated from high school with a
3.9. College in the future for you?
MK: I hope so.
I want to continue my education. It's very important for young kids
to know that skating or any sport is not as--it's just as important
KC: I hear you
like Harvard. Well, as we go off the air, do you want to go do one
more spin for us?
Matt Lauer: (Matt
shows up here and shakes Michelle's hand) Hi, Michelle, how
are you today?
MK: Hi. Sure.
ML: What about
taking Katie with you?
MK: Yeah, that's
what I thought.
KC: Go ahead,
ML: But you have
your skates on.
KC: I've got my
skates, I'll do it later.
ML: Oh, just do
Michelle does a beautiful
KC: This is poetry
in motion. Michelle Kwan. Have a great day, everybody. We'll see
KC: We're back
with Michelle Kwan. Actually, I wore these skates so I'd have a
little height, Michelle, so I wouldn't look so short.
MK: Yeah, me,
too. I love wearing skates because I look taller.
KC: How tall are
MK: And you?
and three quarters.
ML: She towers
Sara James: You're
ML: How old--how
old should--should young ladies and young men start if they want
to be serious about this sport?
MK: It could be
any age. I mean, for recreation, it doesn't matter. But I've seen
world champions, Olympic champions start when they were nine years
old, 10 years old. And I started when I was five. My sister, seven,
KC: I have to
say, I'm really impressed that you were able to do so well in high
school, with all of the demands on you in terms of skating. How
were you able to keep your grade point so high?
MK: It was a little
difficult at times. When I was on tour, I had one side of the suitcase
for books, and one side for shoes, of course. So, it's really hard,
of course, because I was in nice cities like New York, and I had
to sit in the hotel room and discipline myself to open the books
and do my homework.
KC: Do you have
a tutor travel with you, Michelle?
MK: No, I didn't
have a tutor with me...
MK: ...so I had
to be self-disciplined and really had to do it because I--I knew
education was important for me, and I knew I had to finish high
KC: So what do
you think, take a year off, maybe two years off, and then go to
MK: And then go
back to college, yeah.
KC: Yeah. Have
you--have you looked at some schools already?
MK: I've started
to apply already, and I've looked around, and see what's best for
me. And it's a big decision, because I've got to know that my coaches
in California, and I have to deal with that situation.
Al Roker: Do you
have a major?
MK: That's too
SJ: So you'll
be in college when you're doing the next Olympics?
SJ: So you're
going to have that books, shoes thing again.
MK: Shoes. Yeah.
AR: Yeah, you
can probably get an independent study, though, for that.
ML: What a great
excuse to miss an exam, though.
MK: 'Oh, I'm going
to the Olympics this week. So I'll miss it this week.'
KC: That's funny.
That's great. Well, you look great, and I'm so glad things are going
so well for you.
MK: Thank you.
KC: And you're
so respected in the skating world for how balletic your performances
are, and you're so incredible graceful. And it must be hard to combine
that grace with great athleticism, too. Do you find that a big challenge?
MK: Well, I love
this sport. I can put--I can combine them both, I can be graceful
and also be able to jump and do triple jumps. And I mean, I--it's
a great combination.
KC: Well, whenever
I see you, I'm going to think of oozing toothpaste.
KC: Michelle Kwan.
ML: Thanks, Michelle.
to Shallah for this transcript!
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