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Michelle Kwan ( 1980 - )  Category ( Athletes ) [suggest a correction]
 

Michelle KwanMichelle Kwan was born 7 July 1980 in Torrance, California, the third child of Danny and Estalla Kwan, Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong. Kwan's interest in figure skating began at age five when she joined her two older siblings, hockey player Ron and figure skater Karen, onto the ice. The expense of all three children training on ice cost the Kwan family their home, but the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club offered financial assistance to help them continue their training.

The training paid off, as Kwan has won five World Championships (1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, and 2003), the most by anyone in the ladies' division since Carol Heiss (1956–1960). She has won nine United States Figure Skating Championships (1996, 1998–2005), tying the record for most set by Maribel Vinson-Owen (1928–1933, 1935–1937). Kwan's eight consecutive U.S. Championship titles (1998–2005) and 12 consecutive U.S. Championship medals (1994–2005) are both U.S. records. She is the only woman in figure skating history to reclaim the World title three times (1998, 2000, 2003).[2] She has also won a silver medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and a bronze medal in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Kwan is not without her critics and she has been involved in some controversy during her career. Perhaps the best known recent problem occurred during the 2006 Olympics. Kwan performed her long and short programs for the panel on the stipulated day, and her spot on the Olympic team was established, as the panel felt she was fit to compete. However, on February 12, 2006, the United States Olympic Committee announced that Kwan had withdrawn from the Games after suffering a new groin injury in her first practice in Turin. The Turin organizing committee accepted the USOC's application for Emily Hughes (who had finished third at the U.S. Championships) to compete as Kwan's replacement.

After her withdrawal from the Olympic team, Kwan turned down an offer to stay in Turin as a figure skating commentator for NBC Sports. During an interview with Bob Costas and Scott Hamilton, Michelle Kwan said she was not retiring yet. If she continues to compete until the 2010 Olympics, she will be 29.

Kwan left public school to be home schooled at age 13, and she graduated from Rim of the World High school in 1998. She attended UCLA for one year, then transferred to the University of Denver to major in political science and to minor in international studies. She serves as an ambassador for the U.S. in her overseas travels.

Outside her numerous awards and recognitions, Kwan has guess-starred as herself in an episode of The Simpsons and she provided the voice of a shopkeeper in Disney's direct-to-DVD sequel, Mulan II. she also endorses many products and has appeared on several television commercials. In 2005, Kwan's family opened the EastWest Ice Palace in Artesia, California, where many of Kwan's skating medals and meorabilia are housed.

Image: Kwan performs her signature spiral in 2002.

 


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