Up And Downs
In the 1996 ~ 1997 season, Michelle was growing as a teenager. Her body
changed a bit, and she was having trouble with her skates. At 1997 National Championships, Michelle felt the pressure as the
reigning National and World Champion. In the long program, Michelle fell once, twice, three times! This left the door open
for 14-year-old Tara Lipinski. That night, Tara Lipinski took the title and became the youngest U.S. National champion. At
the 1997 World Champion-ships, Michelle skated a perfect long program, but she was fourth going into the free skate. Tara
Lipinski won again, took over Michelle's title from 1996.
After the 1997 season, Michelle learned a lot from falling down. Michelle
realized that she was not having fun. Michelle had put too much pressure on herself. She was trying to defend, not to attack.
Michelle also learned that everyone makes mistakes one time and another. Michelle really grew as a person.
Following Michelle's "down year", here comes the very tense Olympics
year. Many people have already counted Michelle out, but she "wowed" everyone at 1997 Skate America, skating to the famous
Rach for short program and "Lyra Angelica" for long. Michelle won over Tara Lipinski with 2 amazing skates. After Skater America,
Michelle started to have pain in her left foot, but she felt very confident, so why not go for another competition? Michelle
wnet to Skate Canada a few weeks after. Everything was going perfect, until Michelle went into her final butterfly spin. Michelle's
right foot didn't go high enought, and she fell. After Michelle got off the ice, she knew something was not going right.
Later on, doctors revealed a stree fracture in her left fourth toe.
Just weeks before the biggest competition of her career, Michelle was in a cast. Michelle has waited to be at the Olympics
since she was a 7-year-old watching Brian Boitano's gold medal performance at 1988 Olympics. Yet Michelle couldn't practice,
and might not even qualify for the Olympics. Michelle was like a fish out of water. It was a nightmare. The first time Michelle
got back to the ice, she cried, but she believed in herself. The next month at 1998 Nationals, Michelle let loose and had fun.
She skated 2 significent programs and won her 2nd National title.
At this point, Michelle was the favorite going to the Olympics. At 1998
Nagano, Michelle was again 1st after the short program, but it all happened the next night. Michelle skated a perfect program.
She did this, she did that, she did everything she possibly could, but it all happened when Tara Lipinski finished her skate.
Tara landed 2 triple-triple combinations in her program, and became the 1998 Winter Olympics gold medalist.
Many experts later on said that Michelle should've won. That night was a
showdown of one of the greatest battles ever. As Brian Boitano said, "If you were to rewrite the history book, it's like two
performances like that shouldn't have happened that night, but they did." It was a controversy that's said, would never be
laid to rest.
Michelle won the silver, but she felt much more than winning the silver.
Michelle was so thrilled and happy about her performance, that what color of medal she won didn't matter. "I didn't lose the
gold, I won the silver."