After the 2005 World Championships,
Michelle knew that she had to work on a lot of things in order to prepare for the Olympic season in the coming year. Michelle
turned to choreographer Tatiana Tarasova, who has coached numerous Olympic gold medallists, including the 2002 Olympic champion
Alexei Yagudin. Working with Tatiana Tarasova, Michelle was trying to improve her programs according to the new judging system.
In September of 2005, one bad news followed another. First, Michelle withdrew from Campbell’s International Classic,
then both of her Grand Prix assignments: Skate America and Cup of China because of a hip injury. Many people began to criticize
Michelle from not competing. In December of 2005, coming off an injury, Michelle performed 2 exhibition programs, including
her new short program, at the end of the year Marshall’s Figure Skating Showcase.
In January, 2006, just days before
the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, one of the worst news a Kwan fan could possibly think of arrived: Michelle Kwan has
withdrawn from the Nationals because of groin injury. This was the first time in 14 years that Michelle Kwan was not competing
at the U.S. Nationals. This was also the first time in 12 years that Michelle Kwan was off the podium. The Olympic gold medal
is the only thing that’s missing in Michelle’s resume, so Michelle petitioned to the U.S. Olympic committee for
a spot on the Olympic team. Michelle felt that she would be ready by the time of the Olympics, and offered a monitering session
for the U.S. Olympic committee to go to see Michelle skate in the end of January to see if she would be ready.
On January 31, 2006, Michelle Kwan
skated both her short and long programs at her own rink, with a few members of the U.S. Olympic committee watching. Michelle
performed 4 triple jumps in her free skate, which is only 1 less than the 2006 Olympic champion did. Michelle successfully
earned herself a ticket to the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy with another passionate skate. One and half weeks
later, Michelle Kwan proudly marched in her 3rd Olympics with the U.S. Olympic team at the Olympic opening ceremony.
Just when everything seemed to go smoothly, Michelle
announced her withdrawal from the 2006 Olympics 2 days later after falling at a practice and pulling her groin again. “It
was the most difficult decision I ever had to make, but I know it was the right one.” At the press conference of her withdrawal,
Michelle had tears in her eyes. She knew that winning the Olympics was her dream since she was 7 year old. Michelle hasn’t
achieved it yet, but she has things that others could only dream of. Nine U.S. titles, five world titles, two Olympic medals,
and most importantly, hearts of millions of fans around the world.
Michelle Kwan doesn’t need that Olympic gold medal,
because she has given Olympic gold medal worthy performances too many times. One quote that struck me the most at her withdrawal
press conference is this, “It's always been
a dream to win the Olympics, and it's always an honor to represent your country...I've learned that it's not about the gold.
It's about the spirit of it. It's about the sport itself. I have no regrets. I tried my hardest, and if I don't win the gold,
it's ok. I've had a great career, I've been very lucky. This is a sport, and it's beautiful.”
Chapter 1 Chapter
2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4