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[SPORTS] Michelle Kwan Interview

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  • madchinaman
    Michelle Kwan is Set to Defend Her Title Posted By: Judy Tseng Figure Skating http://www.asianathlete.com/DaScoopsFormDisplay.aspx?ID=2412 Five-time world
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 5, 2005
      Michelle Kwan is Set to Defend Her Title
      Posted By: Judy Tseng
      Figure Skating

      Five-time world champion and eight-time U.S. champion skater
      Michelle Kwan is feeling strong and ready for Nationals. In less
      than two weeks, she will face off against Sasha Cohen, Angela
      Nikodinov, and a host of young skaters in a quest to break Maribel
      Vinson's record for the most consecutive U.S. national medals.

      "I'm in very good shape," says Kwan. "I'm doing run-throughs, and
      skating up in the mountains [of Lake Arrowhead, California] has been
      an advantage."

      When asked if she noticed Michelle Kwan Forum members wearing purple
      at the previous national championships to support her, Kwan laughed
      and readily divulged the colors of her new Vera Wang skating
      dresses. "I hope they'll be wearing burnt red for the short program
      and gold for the long." This should prevent the fans' prediction
      error again. Last January, Michelle Kwan Forum members decked out
      in purple were surprised to see Kwan come out in a coral orange
      dress instead.

      Kwan, age 24, says it is "sort of a strange feeling" to be compared
      to legendary skaters. With a competitive skating career spanning
      more than a decade, she is a stand-out in a sport littered with
      burned-out or injured teens. "I still feel like a little thirteen-
      year old on the ice.... Just when I think I've seen it all, someone
      gets on the ice at the world championships and strips down!" Kwan
      chuckles while recalling the then-not-so-funny incident from this
      past year's competition, where a man advertising a gambling website
      jumped onto the ice as she prepared to begin her long program.

      As always, Kwan is asked about the Olympics. Though she always
      thought that after the 2002 Olympics, she would hang up her skates,
      Kwan seems content to be where she is now.

      "I'm the luckiest girl alive," she muses. "I get to do what I love,
      skate to beautiful music, ... dressed in Vera Wang. Yes, I have
      thought about the Olympics-- how could I not? It's an everyday
      process. I do think about the Olympics, but I'm taking one step at
      a time."

      A reporter from Shanghai asks Kwan how her Chinese roots have
      influenced her. Kwan responds, "I guess my work ethic comes a lot
      from my parents [who immigrated from Hong Kong and China]. They're
      very focused on whatever they do," for example, in raising Kwan and
      her two older siblings.

      Kwan says she did watch Skate America and parts of other
      competitions this fall. She was able to analyze the Code of Points
      judging system and what the other skaters did. She compares having
      to adjust to the new judging system as being "like teaching an old
      dog new tricks." She has to "maintain the integrity" of her
      skating, "yet follow the rules, get level threes, and still win."

      Kwan says she has added a few variations to her spins and her
      footwork will stay the same. She always views her programs as works
      in progress and is willing to make changes to them later after
      getting ideas for improvement from officials.

      When asked about Canadian Jeffrey Buttle, who now trains with the
      same coach, Rafael Arutunian, Kwan says she just saw him at the rink
      thirty minutes earlier and is glad to have him as a training partner.

      "It's awesome having Jeffrey Buttle training at the same rink. We
      push and cheer each other on. It's great to have that sort of
      environment at the rink."

      Kwan's sense of humor and self-deprecation emerges as she explains
      why she has stayed relatively injury-free during her long skating
      career, the exception being a stress fracture in a toe in
      1998. "It's because I'm lazy!" she jokes. She describes herself as
      competitive and loving to push herself, but at the same time, she is
      cognizant of her physical limits. "When I get tired and I know I'm
      going to hurt myself doing another triple lutz, I'd rather back down
      and try again later. It's about knowing your limitations. I give
      it [her lack of injury] to being lazy."

      Though Michelle Kwan has been working hard to prepare for Nationals
      in Portland, she did have some time to enjoy the holidays. On
      Christmas Eve, she and her extended family got together to
      celebrate. On Christmas day, she cooked dinner for her parents,
      brother Ron, and godfather. Her older sister Karen, who also was a
      competitive skater, was in London with her daughter and husband.

      Going into yet another national championships, Kwan is expected to
      win the gold for the ninth time, as none of the other American
      skaters have skated a standing ovation-worthy program this fall.
      Kwan does not think of herself as an underdog or a touted
      champion. "It all depends on what the media feels like," she says
      in her trademark good natured way. "I've been training really hard
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