Michelle Kwan Withdraws From 2006 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships Due to Injury; Will Petition For Spot On U.S. Olympic Team

Michelle Kwan
Photo by Michelle Wojdyla

(1/4/06) - Five-time World and nine-time U.S. champion Michelle Kwan announced today her withdrawal from the 2006 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships in St. Louis, Mo., Jan. 9-15, due to a pulled right groin muscle. Kwan, however, plans to submit a formal petition to the U.S. Figure Skating International Committee for one of three ladies spots on the 2006 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team.

“I am deeply disappointed that I will not be at nationals,” Kwan said. “It's always been my favorite event, especially in an Olympic year, and I was really looking forward to competing. I had been skating very well before the injury, and both my doctor and I feel that I can get back to that level and be completely ready for the Olympics. For that reason I am petitioning for a spot on the team.”

Kwan sustained the injury during practice on Dec. 17 and, at her doctor's request, has limited her ice time and skating activities since that time. She is expected to resume her normal training schedule on Friday, Jan. 13.

Kwan is being treated by Dr. Leisure Yu of Loma Linda, Calif., an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine. Dr. Yu is currently a team physician for U.S. Figure Skating and has served in that capacity for more than 10 years.

“This is a very common injury among athletes and is unrelated to the strained ligament in her right hip that Michelle sustained in September, which is now doing very well,” Dr. Yu said. “I examined Michelle last Friday (Dec. 30) and found that the condition of the groin pull has greatly improved. There have been no complications, and there is no reason why it shouldn't fully heal. I have recommended that she not return to full skating activities until Friday, Jan. 13. At the current rate of improvement, I feel that she will be completely recovered by that time, and I'm confident that she will be in top physical condition for the Olympics.”

Kwan has won the last eight consecutive U.S. titles and nine overall, tying her for the most U.S. titles in history with Maribel Vinson Owen of the 1920s and ‘30s. Her first appearance at the U.S. Championships was as a 12-year-old in 1993, and she has appeared in every U.S. Championships since then. She has won five World titles and two Olympic medals: a silver in 1998 and a bronze in 2002.

The U.S. Figure Skating athlete selection procedures for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games state that the champions in each discipline at the 2006 U.S. Championships automatically be nominated to the team. The remaining spots will be determined by the U.S. Figure Skating International Committee following the conclusion of each discipline, and are based on placement at the following events: 2006 U.S. Championships, 2005 Grand Prix Final, 2005 World Championships, 2005 Four Continents Championships, 2005 Junior Grand Prix Final and 2005 World Junior Championships. Skaters who do not compete at the 2006 U.S. Championships due to injury or illness may petition for nomination to the Olympic Team by submitting a written petition to the U.S. Figure Skating International Committee by the conclusion of their discipline at the 2006 U.S. Championships. The U.S. Figure Skating International Committee will determine whether to grant or deny the petition based on results from the previously mentioned events, excluding the 2006 U.S. Championships.

Prior to the date of the 2006 U.S. Olympic Team nomination, Jan. 16, 2006, U.S. Figure Skating medical personnel must verify that the athlete(s) will be physically ready to compete at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. The USOC must then approve the nominations no later than its final required submission date of Jan. 30 to the Torino Organizing Committee.

“In accordance with our established rules, any championship-level athlete who has qualified for the 2006 U.S. Championships has a right to petition for an Olympic spot due to injury or illness,” said Ron Hershberger, president of U.S. Figure Skating. “We trust the outcome will be the naming of the best possible U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team.”

The complete U.S. Figure Skating athlete selection procedures can be found at www.usfigureskating.org/content/olympicprocedures.pdf.

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