Michelle Kwan Will Compete at Olympic Winter Gamesby Troy Schwindt
|Michelle Kwan |
Photo by Michelle Wojdyla
(1/27/06) - Michelle Kwan is going back to the Olympic Winter Games for one last shot at a gold medal.
A five-member monitoring panel determined Friday afternoon, Jan. 27 in Los Angeles that Kwan is fit and that her programs are of Olympic caliber.
Bob Horen, chairman of the panel, said the nine-time U.S. champion demonstrated that she could compete on the highest level and is a contender for a gold medal.
“It's the opinion of this monitoring team that Michelle could win the Olympics,” Horen said. “She's definitely qualified to win a medal. She's skated very well.”
The five-time World champion and two-time Olympic medalist petitioned U.S. Figure Skating for a spot on the Olympic Team after suffering a groin injury in practice in mid-December. The injury forced her to miss the 2006 State Farm U.S. Championships in St. Louis, Jan. 7-15.
The petition stipulated that a group from U.S. Figure Skating would have the opportunity to evaluate Kwan's physical condition and the level of her skating, and then using their sole discretion, decide if she should be on the Olympic Team.
That panel consisted of Horen, technical controller Charlie Cyr, world judge Paula Naughton, international judge Lorrie Parker and athlete representative Brittney Bottoms.
Kwan performed around 11 a.m. at the East-West Ice Palace, her home rink, in Artesia, Calif. In front of the U.S. Figure Skating panel, a few family members and her coach, Kwan performed her free skate, took a 10-minute break, and then skated her short program.
She had one fall on a double Axel but landed four clean triple jumps and various combinations. All of her levels were deemed threes and fours.
Her programs didn't receive a score but were monitored for the elements and their levels within the ISU's new judging system.
After the programs, the panel met at a nearby hotel and after an hour of discussion unanimously agreed that Kwan is fit and confirmed her nomination to the Olympic Team.
Kwan will join U.S. champion Sasha Cohen and U.S. silver medalist Kimmie Messiner at next month's Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy. Emily Hughes, the U.S. bronze medalist, is the first alternate on the Olympic Team.
“It feels awesome,” Kwan said in a teleconference. “I want to thank U.S. Figure Skating for their confidence in me. When I first put in the petition, I believed I would be 100 percent at the Olympics, and I still believe it.”
Kwan said skating in this situation was something she obviously had never had to do before. And after her performances, she still wasn't absolutely certain of her fate.
“Nothing is ever certain,” she said. “It was definitely unique. I got a call from Nancy Kerrigan, who had been in the same situation. She wished me luck and sent me all of her good energy. I felt I had a job to do. I knew I had to go through my programs. There was no audience, so there wasn't any feedback and that was difficult. I stayed positive and just went through everything jump by jump and step by step.”
Kwan said her fall came on her double Axel, which is an element that she incorporated at the last minute into her routine.
“That's how I pulled my groin and I wasn't event planning on doing the double Axel,” she said. “But I was feeling good.”
Kwan, who has only been scored once under the new judging system, said she has plenty to work on before the Olympics, but that the judges offered her plenty of advice and direction on what to work on in the next few weeks.
She said she will probably attend the Opening Ceremonies.