Michelle Kwan Hits the Ice in Torino

by Laura Fawcett
Michelle Kwan
Photo by Yuri Kadobnov/AFP

2006 Olympic Winter Games Photos, News and Blogs

(2/11/06) - Meeting nearly a hundred members of the media in a room the size of a college lecture hall is always daunting, but meeting them after you have had your first open practice session at the Olympic Winter Games is even more so … especially if that practice is substandard by all accounts, even yours.

Michelle Kwan nevertheless fielded questions from the media with her usual grace and friendliness Saturday afternoon at the Sala 500 press conference room in Torino's Main Media Center.

Kwan, who is recovering from a groin injury, made her debut on the practice ice this morning, spending about 25 minutes at the Palaghiaccio practice rink. She did not attempt most of her triples and had particular trouble with the flip.

“When I got on the ice I was a little stiff,” she said. “Being outside for four hours yesterday (at the Opening Ceremonies) wasn't good for my body. When I woke up this morning, I didn't feel good. The first day of practice is kind of nerve-wracking. It is frustrating when you make mistakes in your first day of practice. You want to get out there and feel good and go through your programs.

“This morning I chose to not go through my program. I was debating whether to practice or not. But sitting on the plane, sitting around, I just wanted to get out and feel the ice."

Kwan said her stiffness was mostly in the groin area. She also said the absence of her coach, Rafael Arutunian, who is arriving Saturday night, affected her because of the lack of feedback.

Kwan's injury forced her to withdraw from the 2006 U.S. Championships, and she petitioned U.S. Figure Skating for a spot on the team. The association accepted Kwan's petition and later evaluated her at a closed practice session in Los Angeles Jan. 27.

Now at her third Olympic Winter Games, Kwan's plans for this week are still up in the air. She's currently staying in the Olympic Village but may leave to train in Courmayeur, Italy, with teammates Kimmie Meissner and Sasha Cohen. The mountain rink is closed to the media and public.

The five-time World champion and two-time Olympic medalist said it was an accomplishment and honor to be on the team after such a difficult year, but her goals are higher than that.

“I don't know what's reasonable for you (media) to expect of me,” she told reporters. “It's been a struggle for me this year. I've gone through a lot of injuries, but I think taking one thing at a time for me is important. Listening to my body is important.

“I would love to do my best … [but] practicing this morning wasn't as easy going as I wanted it to be.”

The question came up, however, on whether she is still considering withdrawing from the competition if she doesn't feel ready to compete.

“Physically if I am not able to skate I will give up my spot,” she said.

And in response to whether she will drop out of the competition?

“No, I really have to pay attention to how I feel,” she said. “Dropping out isn't something that I want to do, but I have to listen to what my feelings are.”

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