Kwan prepares for Games by watching Olympic tape
Posted: Tuesday July 28, 1998 07:26 PM
UNIONDALE, New York (AP) -- In the days before Wednesday's start of the Goodwill Games figure skating competition, Michelle Kwan watched a tape of her silver medal performance in the Olympics.
Like any great athlete, she learned some things.
"I thought it was good," she said. "There was a smile on my face as I watched. I said, `Push, Michelle! Push! You can do it!' "
"I saw things I can improve on. There are some things I could have done better. I needed a little more oomph to the long program."
Now, Kwan hopes the oomph is there and she can maintain it right through the next four years to the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
She is positive about the prospects.
"It's not what's out there," she said. "It's what I want. I love competing. I love the challenge. I don't feel I'll be that old. I'll be 21. Pul-eese!"
Kwan remembered that on the day of the gold medal long skate in Nagano, she was not herself.
"I was a little too nervous, more nervous than usual," she said. "I tried to take a nap and I couldn't sleep a wink. I was a little too overwhelmed."
The result was a silver medal, not the gold she wanted so badly.
"When I started last year, I thought if I didn't win, what would I do?" Kwan said. "My life would be over. The thing I've learned from skating is that's not all there is. I feel there's more to accomplish than the gold."
So that has been her agenda during a long post-Olympic tour which winds up this week at the Nassau Coliseum, in a competition Kwan is expected to win.
Expectations, however, don't always come through. Kwan, remember, led the Nagano figure skating after the short program only to be overtaken for the gold medal by longtime rival Tara Lipinski.
Since then, Lipinski has moved on to the pros -- a gray area when it comes to figure skating -- leaving Kwan to carry on without her, stripping the sport of what was developing into a delicious rivalry.
"I miss Tara," she said. "I believe it would attract more attention if she continued to compete in the amateurs. But you never know who's coming up. It could be anybody. I see a lot of kids coming up, kids doing triples. I was amazed."
The 18-year-old Kwan is vastly different from the skater coach Frank Carroll found in the Pacific Coast championships in 1993.
"I saw a wonderful little girl with spring in her legs and joy in her face and no discipline whatsoever," he said.
The spring and joy are still there. The discipline has come bit by bit along with maturity. Carroll told an anecdote to show just how grown-up this teenager has become.
"She's trained hard for this event," he said of the Goodwill Games. "She's been very consistent."
However, there were some down days, too.
"One day," Carroll said, "she was in a funk. She really wasn't into it."
Finally, the exasperated coach approached Kwan.
"I said to her, `What do you want me to say or do?' " Carroll recalled.
"She said, `I want you to say nothing and do nothing. It's not your problem. It's my problem. Give me two or three minutes and I'll snap out of it.'
"Three minutes later, she was great. She's in charge of herself."
Kwan knows she controls her own destiny on ice.
"It's little things," she said. "Hopefully, the next time you see me compete, I'll be that much better."
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