Kwan falters, but breezes to Goodwill victory
Posted: Sunday August 16, 1998 03:20 PM
NEW YORK (CNN/SI) -- Michelle Kwan had a stumble on her final night of skating for the season, but it didn't keep her from the gold.
Kwan, looking forward to a vacation in Hawaii, took an unexpected detour Saturday night, falling to the ice on a triple loop in the middle of her free program at the Goodwill Games.
She got right up like nothing had happened and skated away with the gold medal.
"I felt great up to the loop and the fall shook me up," Kwan said. "After the mistake, I knew what I had to do. In practice when you make a mistake, you always want to do the next thing great."
That's what Kwan did, and it made her the easy winner. Waiting for her when she left the ice was her longtime coach, Frank Carroll.
It was a tip from him that carried Kwan through her crisis.
"Frank always tells me to use my legs to get boost and that's what I did," she said.
"If you divide up the program, the first section was good, the middle section was ehhh and the third section was good. If you cut out the middle section, it was very good."
With many of the 10,558 fans in the largest Nassau Coliseum crowd of the competition waving signs of support, Kwan finished her program flawlessly, including a triple lutz near the end.
"That last triple lutz," she sighed. "I felt like I had to land it. I saw Frank abd I said I'd better land it. I knew what he taught me and what he said. I knew what I had to do."
Kwan took off as the crowd watched. "I could hear them holding their breath," she said.
She completed the jump and the program without any more problems.
Russians Maria Butyrskaya and Victoria Volchkova won the silver and bronze. Butyrskaya fell twice and Volchkova went down once.
Earlier, world champions Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov won the ice dance gold medal with an emotional and energetic free dance, which earned two perfect scores.
The dance silver medal went to another Russian couple, Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh, while Elena Grushina and Rusian Goncharov of Ukraine took the bronze.
Wearing a powder-blue skating dress that left a bathing-suit tan line exposed on her back, Kwan looked relaxed, almost relieved, smiling broadly as she warmed up for her program to the squeals of the fans.
She was the next-to-last skater of the night and the crowd - including former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, sitting next to Goodwill Games founder Ted Turner and his wife, Jane Fonda - was ready for her.
They cheered as Kwan skated, and urged her on as she bounced back from the rare fall. The judges awarded her five 5.8s for technical elements and a sweep of seven 5.9s for presentation.
Later, the Carters presented the gold medal to Kwan.
Cut-rate $5 upper-level seats swelled the attendance to twice as large as the crowd that watched Todd Eldredge win the men's gold Friday night. They came to see Kwan, and she responded with her personal exclamation point on a grueling season that included the Olympic silver medal and her second world and national championships.
"It looked so full out there," said Kwan, whose short program Thursday night was performed before less than 5,000 people.
American Angela Nikodinov finished fourth.
The dance gold was the second straight major international title for the Russians, who live and train in Newark, Delaware They won the world championship in March after six straight second-place finishes in European, world and Olympic competitions dating back to 1996.
Skating to Bizet's "Carmen," Krylova and Ovsiannikov were the last pair of their competition and dazzled the crowd.
The couple, who have been skating together since May 1994 and are coached by 1980 Olympic champions Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov, received two perfect 6.0 scores for presentation from the Austrian and Russian judges.
"When we're out there, we don't think about getting a 6.0," Ovsiannikov said. "We hope, but we don't think about it."
Teenagers Jessica Joseph and Charles Butler represented the United States and were crowd favorites, even though they received no mark higher than 5.5 and finished fourth and last.
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