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Figure Skating Legend Michelle Kwan

By

Michelle Kwan
Vladimir Rys / Staff/Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images

A Figure Skating Legend:

Michelle Kwan is considered a figure skating legend and is the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history.

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Outstanding Competition Record:

Michelle Kwan has won nine U.S. championships, five world championships, and two Olympic medals.

One of the Greatest Figure Skaters of All Time:

Michelle is known for being expressive and also for her consistency on the ice.

Born:

Michelle was born on July 7, 1980 in Torrance, California.

Family:

Michelle's parents are Danny and Estella Kwan, Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong. She has two older siblings: Ron and Karen. Michelle's parents worked hard to finance their children's skating. Her mother worked at two jobs and her father worked extra hours.

How Michelle Began Figure Skating:

Michelle became interested in figure skating when she was five years old. Both Michelle, and her sister, Karen, began serious figure skating training when Michelle was eight.

Michelle's Early Training and Awards:

When Michelle was ten years old her family received financial assistance which allowed Michelle and her sister to train at the Ice Castle International Training Center in Lake Arrowhead, California.

Karen and Michelle trained under Frank Carroll. At age eleven, Michelle placed ninth at the Junior U.S. Nationals. In 1993, she placed sixth at her first senior U.S. championships. She won the World Junior Championship in 1994.

Second to Tonya Harding in 1994:

At the United States National Championships in 1994, Michelle finished second behind Tonya Harding, but that did not qualify her to go to the Olympics since Nancy Kerrigan was awarded that spot. Nancy Kerrigan had been attacked at the 1994 U.S. Nationals and had been unable to compete.

Shortly after that, it was alleged that Tonya Harding might have been part of the conspiracy to hurt Nancy. Tonya was banned from U.S. Figure Skating for life.

1995 and 1996:

Michelle placed second at the United States National Championships in 1995. She went on to the 1995 World Championships and landed seven triple jumps. She came in fourth.

In 1996 Michelle won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and the World Championships.

The Change of Edge Spiral:

Michelle's signature move is a change of edge spiral. She begins by skating on a very strong forward inside edge and doing a beautiful spiral and then she changes to an outside edge without moving her extended free leg. This move requires much power and control and Michelle does it beautifully.

Favorite to Win the Olympics in 1998:

Michelle Kwan was favored to win the Olympics in 1998, but Tara Lipinski won instead. Kwan went on to win the 1998 World Championships.

1999:

Michelle won the U.S. National Championship in 1999, but came in second at the World Championships that year. She did not feel well at that competition, but competed anyway.

Competition Record 2000/2001:

Michelle had a very good series of wins from 2000 to 2001, winning the U.S. Nationals every year, and also winning the World Championships in 2000 and 2001.

Disappointing 2002 Olympics:

Michelle Kwan broke off her coaching relationship with Frank Carroll in 2001. She was expected to win the Olympics in 2002 and did win the short program, but did not skate well in the long program. She ended up winning a Bronze medal. A sixteen year old American, Sarah Hughes won the Gold.

Michelle's Impressive Competition Record:

  • Olympic Games 2nd Place 1998: Nagano, Japan
  • Olympic Games 3rd Place 2002: Salt Lake City, U.S.
  • World Championships 1st Place 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003
  • World Championships 2nd Place 1997, 1999, 2002
  • Wolrd Championships 3rd Place 2004
  • National Championships 1st Place 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
  • National Championships 2nd Place 1994, 1995, 1997

Michelle Withdrew From the 2006 Olympics:

Michelle did not compete in the the 2006 U.S. Nationals, but she filed a petition for a medical waiver and asked to be part of the 2006 United States Olympic team. She arrived in Torino, but shortly after the first practice, suffered a groin injury and had to withdraw. Emily Hughes competed in her place. Japan's Shizuka Arakawa won the Ladies' event.

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