Michelle Kwan To Skip 2006-07 Competitive Season

Michelle Kwan
Photo by Michelle Wojdyla

(9/6/06) - Five-time World and nine-time U.S. champion Michelle Kwan will take a year off from figure skating and will not compete during the 2006-2007 season. Instead, beginning this fall, Kwan will attend the University of Denver (DU) in Denver, Colo., as a full-time student. Kwan will continue to perform in skating exhibitions, work on special projects and serve as a corporate spokesperson.

“Each year, since 2002, I have taken a one-year-at-a-time approach to my figure skating plans,” Kwan said. “Education is very important to me and this year I have decided to put college first. Next year at this time I will again evaluate all my options including returning to competitive skating.”

Kwan, 26, previously attended UCLA, earning one year's worth of credits which have been transferred to DU. Kwan plans to major in political science with a minor in international studies.

In August, following the Champions on Ice tour, Kwan underwent elective arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum in her right hip, an old injury which she sustained during the 2004-2005 season. She will be off the ice for approximately four months for healing and rehabilitation and is expected to make a full recovery.

Last season Kwan did not compete due to a variety of injuries, but was named to the 2006 Olympic Team after proving her skating readiness before a panel of U.S. Figure Skating judges and officials. However, she suffered a severe right groin strain in her first practice at the Olympic Winter Games and made the decision to withdraw when she determined that she would not be at full strength.

The most decorated figure skater in U.S. history, Kwan has won an unprecedented 43 championships, including five World Championships (1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003), eight consecutive and nine overall U.S. Championships (1996, 1998-2005) and two Olympic medals (silver-1998, bronze-2002). Her nine U.S. titles tie her with the legendary Maribel Vinson (who competed in the 1920s and ‘30s) for the most in U.S. history. Kwan's streak of eight consecutive U.S. titles (1998-2005) and 12 consecutive U.S. medals (1994-2005) are both U.S. records, as is her mark of 12 career U.S. medals (nine gold, three silver).

In the 100-year history of ladies figure skating, Kwan's five World titles and nine overall World medals (five gold, three silver, one bronze) in nine consecutive years (1996-2004) are all marks that have been bettered only by Norway's Sonja Henie (10 titles/11 medals/11 consecutive years) who competed in the 1920s and ‘30s (1926-36). Kwan is the only woman in figure skating history to reclaim the World title three times (1998, 2000, 2003).

Kwan's skating accomplishments have earned her numerous awards and honors, including:

  • 2003 U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) SportsWoman of the Year
  • 2001 Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in America
  • 1998 Sportswoman of the Year by the Women's Sports Foundation
  • 2002 and 2003 Kids' Choice Award and the 2002 Teen Choice Award as America's favorite female athlete
  • 2002 CosmoGirl! of the Year for her accomplishments and inspiration to others
  • Six-time Female Athlete of the Year in figure skating by the U.S. Olympic Committee (1996, 1998-2001, 2003)
  • A record 14 USOC Athlete of the Month awards
  • Seven SKATING magazine Readers' Choice Skater of the Year Awards; she is the only multiple year winner of the prestigious award. In 2003 U.S. Figure Skating renamed the award in her honor, which is now called the Michelle Kwan Trophy.

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