Kwan Withdraws from Olympic Winter Games

U.S. Olympic Committee Report
Michelle Kwan
Photo by Yuri Kabdonov/AFP/Getty

2006 Olympic Winter Games Photos, News and Blogs

(2/12/06) - The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) announced today that five-time World and nine-time U.S. champion Michelle Kwan has made the decision to withdraw from the 2006 Olympic Winter Games due to injury. Kwan injured an adductor muscle in her right hip, commonly called a groin strain, at a practice Saturday morning at the Palaghiaccio practice ice rink in Torino, Italy.

Pain from the injury grew significantly worse Saturday evening. At 2:15 a.m. Sunday, Kwan was evaluated by a U.S. team physician in the Athletes' Village. Dr. Jim Moeller, M.D., of Detroit, Mich., evaluated Kwan and diagnosed her with a severe groin strain. Shortly afterwards, Kwan decided to withdraw from Olympic competition.

“Taking myself off the team is the most difficult decision I've ever had to make,” Kwan said, “but it's the right decision. This injury prevents me from skating my best, and I've said all along that if I couldn't skate to the level that I expected from myself I'd withdraw from the team. The Olympics is the greatest sporting event in the world and what's most important is that the United States fields the strongest team possible. As much as I'd love to represent the United States in Torino, I would never stand in the way of that.”

Saturday's practice took place at 11:20 a.m. At the practice, Kwan injured her right hip adductor while landing a triple flip jump. At the conclusion of her practice, she attended a press conference at 1 p.m. and was feeling discomfort at the time. The injury worsened throughout the evening, and she met with Moeller at 2:15 a.m.

“During training yesterday, Ms. Kwan injured her adductor muscle in her right hip, commonly called a groin strain,” Moeller said. “This injury limits her function making it impossible for her to jump, land and skate effectively and without risk of serious injury.”

Moeller added that it is his opinion that the injury is unrelated to prior injuries that Kwan experienced, and she is expected to make a full recovery.

At 7:30 a.m. today, the U.S. Olympic Committee submitted a Late Athlete Replacement Form to the Torino Olympic Organizing Committee (TOROC), submitting Emily Hughes as a replacement athlete in the ladies figure skating competition. At 11 a.m., Hughes was accepted and will be eligible to compete.

Quotes from Kwan Press Conference

Peter Ueberroth, Chairman, U.S. Olympic Committee
Michelle Kwan means more to the United States Olympic Committee than maybe any athlete that's ever performed for the United States Olympic Committee. She a leader, she's been gracious, she's somebody to cherish forever. She's a real loss to all of the United States Olympic Committee, to the United States of America and, I think, to the world. She's made a courageous decision.”

Ron Hershberger, President, U.S. Figure Skating
“Michelle Kwan is truly a great champion. She has been and still is a great champion. I think I can say she is widely admired and, in fact, adored by figure skating fans everywhere. She has been a true champion in every sense of the word. She sustained this new injury during the first day of practice. She had followed the process carefully and we had followed the process carefully of the criteria for the selection to the Olympic Team. She had been examined by her own physician after sustaining an injury earlier in the year and was certified to be healthy. She then submitted her petition to be nominated to the Olympic Team.

The Figure Skating Association exercised its option to have her evaluated again by a physician selected by us. That physician did examine her and certified that she was healthy. She then continued to train. She was monitored by a five-person monitoring committee that we selected, who saw her run through her short program and her long program. Clearly she was ready to compete. Then she was seen again by monitors on the second of February, again confirming her readiness, and then finally by her own doctor, who also is a U.S. Figure Skating physician, on the seventh of February, just before coming to these Games, again, ready to compete.

It's really regrettable that on the first day of practice that she sustained a new injury and is forced to withdraw. She is a true champion and she will gut through this. We are delighted that Emily Hughes has continued to train and be ready and she will be sometime later this week.”

David Raith, Executive Director, U.S. Figure Skating
“(Michelle Kwan) is a great champion and has been one of the faces of U.S. Figure Skating. I was the one who called last night to the Hughes family at 2:45 a.m. local time. They were at dinner – I heard the clatter of forks and knives in the background. I spoke with John Hughes first, then I spoke to Emily Hughes, who expressed her wishes for a recovery for Michelle, and also is very, very excited that she will become a member of the U.S. Olympic Team, pending the approval that was received this morning. She's very excited. They are evaluating their options on when to come here and we will be in touch with them later today regarding those logistics.”

Dr. Jim Moeller, M.D. (Troy, Mich.)
Opening Statement
Shortly before 2:00 this morning, I was contacted by our medical director to report to our training room in the Village to perform an assessment on Michelle. She met us there about 2:15. Along with the medical director, together we obtained a medical history regarding her injury which occurred on Saturday at practice, an injury such that she was unable to continue her practice and cut it short. We then proceeded to perform a physical examination of both hips, assessing her amount of discomfort, motion and strength.

We made the assessment of an acute groin strain or adductor strain, in which this type of injury at her sport, at her level, we felt that to continue to train and compete would put her at risk for further injury. So it was our recommendation that she consider withdrawing at that point. In total it took roughly 15 minutes to obtain the information and make the assessment. I do want to be clear on one point: this type of injury is not career-threatening. We do expect her to make a full recovery with time and proper rehabilitation.

Michelle Kwan, Los Angeles, Calif.
Opening thoughts:
"I wish I was here in better circumstances. When I first put in the petition, I believed I would be 100 percent. I don't believe I can be at 100 percent and I respect the Olympics too much. I don't feel that I can compete at my best."


Step by step on what has happened:
"Yesterday morning I woke up really stiff. Twenty minutes into practice, I still felt really stiff and not at ease on the ice. I tried to skate it off, but I ended up getting off the ice. At the time, I didn't feel like I would do something immediately. I iced my groin area. About 11 p.m., 12 o'clock, I still didn't feel right. I made two phone calls. I talked to the doctor. I had to make a decision. It was one of the toughest decisions I've had to make, but I know it's the right one. I telephoned my parents and told them of my decision."

On whether she regrets attending Opening Ceremonies and practicing on Saturday:
"I didn't think twice about not going to Opening Ceremonies or not going to practice. It's the Olympics and you have to push. I can't even think past right now. The first practice always is tough. It got worse and worse through the day. I didn't think in my heart that I could be at my best. I had to get checked out right away. I knew I was in pain. You don't have to get it from somebody else to know you have pain."

On whether she thought another few days would help:
"I had to make a decision. I would love to compete in my third Olympics. It's physical pain that is keeping me from performing, but it also is emotional as well. I think the best thing for me is to go home and get better. I don't want to be a distraction here."

On whether this was a new injury:
"I felt ready to compete. Yesterday after practice, it felt sore. I was trying to stay positive."

On advice she might offer to Emily Hughes:
"The Olympics is an incredible experience. I know she's been working hard and she'll make the country proud.

On if her career ends without a gold medal:
"If I don't win the gold, it's O.K. I've had a great career."




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