View Full Version : New York Times Article

October 31st, 1999, 07:26 AM
This is a really nice article. Thank you, New York Times! <A HREF=http://www.nytimes.com/library/sports/other/103199skate-america-kwan.html>http://www.nytimes.com/library/sports/other/103199skate-america-kwan.html</A>

October 31st, 1999, 07:52 AM
Nice article! Here it is in full: OLORADO SPRINGS -- On weekdays, when anonymity swallows her up in the stampede of 24,000 U.C.L.A. undergrads hustling to get to class on time and struggling to stay awake once they get there, Michelle Kwan's mandatory accessories are books and a baseball cap. On weekends like this one, when world-class competition calls to her like a siren, it's back to Spandex, sequins and a Mona Lisa smile for the inevitable celebrity spotlight. This double life that Kwan, the two-time world champion and three-time national champion, has opted to live has so far proved more restorative than distracting. Here at Skate America, the first test of the season, Kwan blithely skated into first place after Friday's short program with a performance that expressed a duality befitting its creator. Not only did Kwan home in like a technician on all eight required elements, but she also gave Lennon-McCartney's "A Day in the Life" an air of brooding reverie that transformed a compulsory test into a work of art. Too, it was that moment of freedom when, just as visions of homework flitted into her consciousness, she was able to tell herself that all she had to do for the next two minutes was skate to perfection. It felt like a release instead of a responsibility. It felt right. Now that skating has become her other dimension instead of her only dimension, Kwan, at 19, could be undergoing a rejuvenation. After a disappointing 1998 Olympics, at which she was upstaged in Nagano, Japan, by Tara Lipinski, Kwan took her silver medal and began taking stock of herself. "When I was younger, I thought I could never be happy with just a silver medal; when I watched the Olympics on TV, I remember I always pitied the person who got the silver," Kwan said over a post-practice cup of tea, having sworn off the ice cream, fries and pizza that added a treacherous three pounds to her sylph-like frame after just one week at college. "It was all that late-night studying, sitting there on your fanny," said Kwan, who has tempered her snacking and her studying technique. "I keep myself moving," she said. While it is tempting to assume that Kwan has elected to attend college and retain her Olympic-eligibility because she's fixated on coming away from Salt Lake City with a gold medal in 2002, she hopes that isn't her only reason for making a "pivotal" decision in her life. "I don't think I could stay amateur just for 2002; that's so far away, and who knows what's going to happen there," Kwan said. "I want to be there with all my heart, but I don't think that's why I'm doing this. It's not tangible; it's more for the everyday challenge of skating, of competing, of trying to figure out why, if I've done that triple a million times in practice, how can I miss it in competition? How can you say that six minutes at the Olympics is going to tell you that you'll be happy for the rest of your life? That's insane." So is studying until 4 A.M. in a dormitory cubicle without air-conditioning while stereos compete for the airwaves and unofficial football games rage in the hallways, especially when you have to wake up at seven for a skate and then hustle back to take a quiz. But Kwan is reveling in the frenzy. "People told me I should wait until I'm 21 to go to school," said Kwan, who instead took her cues from her brother and sister (at California-Irvine and Boston University, respectively). "I know school could wait, but the experience I wanted couldn't. I was ready to have my mind not thinking about skating 100 percent; it can drive someone crazy, believe me, I know." Besides, she also had the positive examples of Olympic medalists who went the academic route: @#%$ Button, a Harvard man, won gold in 1948 and '52; Tenley Albright graduated from Harvard Medical School after winning gold in '56, and Debi Thomas was attending Stanford when she won bronze in '88. "I'm not saying I'm going to succeed 100 percent at combining school and skating; at times I may fail, but hopefully not miserably," said Kwan, who has noted a connection between her attitude toward skating and studies. "I'm pretty extreme; I expect so much from myself: why do things halfway?" Just before this competition, Kwan was fretting about receiving a B on a quiz, a mark that left her father, Danny, unperturbed. "He told me what's wrong with a B, B's are good,' " Kwan said. "But I wanted an A. I guess it's just innate in me that I want to be better." What Kwan, who picked up another record-breaking 6.0, her 21st in Olympic-style skating, for presentation here on Friday, leaves unsaid is that she'd like to be the best; according to her coach, she's already there. "She's got millions; she doesn't need to work a day in her life if she doesn't want to, and if she walked away from skating right this minute, I still feel she'd go down as one of the greats," said her 61-year-old coach, Frank Carroll, who has vowed not to retire until Kwan does. "But she's not through with it yet. She's intellectual enough that she knows where she draws her satisfaction from, and it's not money or medals. It's simply the beauty of skating, and the competing. Before she started at U.C.L.A., she had the feeling she was wasting time, wasting her life just on skating, and she did something about it. She knew she can't be doing double axels until she's 50, but that education is something you have forever, until you're dead. Now that she's challenging her mind, the skating has become a joy again. We'll have to wait and see where that goes."

October 31st, 1999, 08:10 AM
What a wonderful article! Thanks-it was very poignant.

October 31st, 1999, 08:24 AM
Incredibly written!!!...

October 31st, 1999, 08:31 AM
Great article. And I have to commend MK's relationship with Frank Carroll. She's devoted to him. He's devoted to her. You just don't see that often enough in sports anymore.

susan ba
October 31st, 1999, 08:43 AM
i really like frank's and michelle's relationship. i can only think of a few other student/coach relationships that are so close. michel weisse, brian boitano, todd, tonya, kristi... and i have a feeling that sarah and her coach will be the same thing.

October 31st, 1999, 10:10 AM
I'm going to assume you mean Tonia Kwietkowski, not she who shan't be mentioned.

October 31st, 1999, 11:00 AM
The way the author described the short as a "work of art," I'm disappointed ABC didn't decide to at least feature hers. Shucks, now we have to wait until Wednesday at Masters.

October 31st, 1999, 08:13 PM
When I referred to the rarity of the devotion between Kwan and Carroll I actually meant sports in general, as opposed to skating in particular. Although we frequently hear the horror stories of skaters who've had 56 coaches since they were 2, there seem to be almost as many stories from the opposite end of the spectrum. A lot of the names mentioned earlier -- Boitano, Eldredge, Yamaguchi, etc. -- have a similar experience to Kwan's. But when I think of other sports...tennis, in particular....it's amazing to see the number of coaches a mediocre player goes through in their career. I just think there's a lot to be said for finding a good coach and building a solid and long-lasting relationship with that person.

susan ba
November 1st, 1999, 05:14 PM
sw100025 goodness, yes. i meant tonia (sorry for the misspelling before) and carol s jenkins. i couldn't name tonya hardings past or present coach to save my life. during the kiss and cry at SA, they mentioned that sarah hughs is very close to her coach. chica, yes, i agree about michelle and frank in terms of sports in general too