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Michelle Kwan

Unexpected Trip To 1994 Olympics

Kwan was not perfect in her first USFSA National Championship appearance in 1993, but her performance was good enough to land her in sixth place. She had a much better showing at that year's U.S. Olympic Festival, where she won the gold medal. Already earning predictions of future greatness based on her jumping ability, Kwan was slowly incorporating the artistry into her program that would later become her trademark. Yet she was unprepared for the unprecedented attention focused on women's figure skating at the 1994 Nationals, which she entered as a still relatively unknown skater. Leaving the practice session ice at the Cobo Arena in Detroit, the site of the event, Kwan was just a few feet away when Shane Stant clubbed reigning U.S. Champion Nancy Kerrigan in the knee. Stant had carried out the attack in a plot coordinated by rival skater Tonya Harding's husband, Jeff Gillooly, in the hope of forcing Kerrigan out of Olympic contention. With Kerrigan sidelined by the injury, Harding won the championship, with Kwan placing second. Kerrigan and Harding were named to the Olympic team, but with the investigation around the attack centering on Harding's entourage, Kwan's nomination as an alternate to the team made her a featured attraction of the media circus that surrounded the Lillehammer Games.

Awards and Accomplishments

1991 Won gold medal, USFSA Southwest Pacific Junior Championship
1992 Won bronze medal, USFSA Pacific Coast Junior Championship
1993 Won gold medal, U.S. Olympic Festival
1994 Won gold medal, ISU World Junior Championship
1994 Won silver medal, Goodwill Games
1994-95, 1997 Won silver medal, USFSA National Championship
1996, 1998-2003 Won gold medal, USFSA National Championship
1996, 1998, 2000-01 Won gold medal, ISU World Championship
1996, 1998-2000 Named U.S. Olympic Committee Athlete of the Year, Figure Skating
1997, 1999, 2002 Won silver medal, ISU World Championship
1998 Won silver medal, Nagano Winter Olympic Games
1998 Won gold medal, Goodwill Games
1998 Won gold medal, World Professional Championship
2002 Won bronze medal, Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games
2002 Awarded James E. Sullivan Award, Outstanding Amateur Athlete, Amateur Athletic Union

Related Biography: Skating Coach Frank Carroll

Until their partnership ended in 2001, Michelle Kwan and coach Frank Carroll had one of the most productive relationships in figure skating. Born in Massachusetts in the late 1930s, Carroll grew up skating at a Worcester rink and in the 1950s trained with former U.S. Champion Maribel Vinson Owen. Although he became one of the top U.S. skaters of the late 1950s, Carroll put aside his amateur career after failing to make the 1960 Olympic team. He instead completed a degree in education at Holy Cross and spent four years in the Ice Follies, a popular figure skating review that toured the country.

Carroll took bit parts in several low-budget movies in the mid-1960s but was drawn into coaching after giving a few informal lessons to skaters around Los Angeles. With the death of Owen and several other of the country's top coaches in a 1961 plane crash en route to the World Championship—an accident that devastated the USFSA's ranks—the demand for skilled coaches was high. By the mid-1970s Carroll had coached several outstanding skaters, including 1977-1980 U.S. and 1977 and 1979 World Champion Linda Fratianne, who won the silver medal at the 1980 Olympics. Carroll had a less harmonious relationship with 1989 and 1992 U.S. Champion Christopher Bowman, who was eventually sidelined with drug and alcohol problems.

Although he considered retiring from coaching at various points in his career, Carroll began working with Michelle Kwan at the Ice Castle in Lake Arrowhead, California in 1992. The two developed into one of the strongest teams in figure skating and seemed so close that Kwan's announcement in October 2001 that she had left Carroll to compete without a coach came as a surprise. "I think maybe she's feeling like a woman now," Carroll told David Davis of the Los Angeles Magazine in a January 2002 profile, "She's twenty-one, she's wealthy, she has a boyfriend. She's probably feeling she should take charge of her life. She's feeling her oats." Carroll remained one of the most respected coaches in figure skating with pupils that included 2002 Olympic bronze medalist Timothy Goebel and former U.S. bronze medalist Angela Nikodinov.

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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: