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Michelle Kwan

Started Skating With Sister

The third and youngest child of Danny and Estella (Wing) Kwan, Michelle Kwan was born on July 7, 1980 in Los Angeles, California. Her father had been born in China and grew up in Hong Kong, where he met her mother when they attended the same grade school. The two met again at a school reunion and after marrying moved to Los Angeles in the early 1970s. Danny Kwan worked for the phone company while Estella Kwan helped her family run the Golden Pheasant restaurant in suburban Torrance. It was son Ron, the oldest of the three Kwan children, who first took up ice skating as a hockey player. Younger sister Karen, who would one day rank among the country's top skaters, then asked for skating lessons, which Michelle begged to join. Her parents finally gave in and the girls took lessons at a shopping mall in Rancho Palos Verdes, where the family lived, when Kwan was five years old.


1980 Born July 7 to Danny and Estella Kwan in Los Angeles, California
1985 Begins taking figure skating lessons
1988 Begins taking private figure skating lessons with coach Derek James
1992 Begins association with coach Frank Carroll
1992 Places ninth at United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA) National Junior Championship
1993 Places sixth at USFSA National Championship
1993 Advances to senior USFSA ranks against the advice of her coach
1993 First appearance at senior level of USFSA National Championship
1994 Places eighth at International Skating Union (ISU) World Championship
1994 Becomes alternate for U.S. delegation to Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games
1995 Places fourth at ISU World Championship
2001 Ends association with coach Frank Carroll

After winning some local competitions, Kwan and her sister began taking private lessons with coach Derek James in 1988. With the financial burden of daily lessons for their two daughters, the Kwans sold their home in Rancho Palos Verdes to pay for their training and moved into a house in Torrance owned by Danny Kwan's parents. After Kwan won a gold medal in the United States Figure Skating Association's (USFSA) Southwest Pacific Junior Championship in 1991 and a bronze medal the following year in the Pacific Coast Junior Championship, she won a scholarship to study at the Ice Castle, an elite training facility in Lake Arrowhead, California. Karen Kwan was also accepted into the program; accompanied by their father, the girls moved to the facility, about one hundred miles away from Los Angeles, and started working with coach Frank Carroll in 1992.

Although the relationship between Kwan and Carroll eventually resulted in one of the most productive teams in figure skating, Kwan's first year with her new coach got off to a rocky start. She finished a disappointing ninth place at her first appearance at a national USFSA event, the Junior Championship, in 1992. Kwan also raised Carroll's ire by taking the USFSA test to advance to the senior ranks in 1993. Carroll had hoped that Kwan would make a strong showing at the 1993 Junior Nationals as a springboard to entering senior competitions. Motivated by a desire to earn a place on the 1994 U.S. Olympic team, Kwan ignored his advice and took the test while Carroll was out of town. It was days before Carroll would even speak to his driven pupil after he found out what she had done.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsFigure SkatingMichelle Kwan - Started Skating With Sister, Chronology, Unexpected Trip To 1994 Olympics, Awards And Accomplishments, Related Biography: Skating Coach Frank Carroll - SELECTED WRITINGS BY KWAN: