IT TOOK just one
practice in Turin for Michelle Kwan's 12-year Olympic odyssey to end.
Attempting a triple flip jump the day after the opening ceremonies, the
nine-time U.S. and five-time world champion reinjured her right groin--the same
injury that had kept her out of the U.S. Nationals in January. Early the next
morning, at 2:30 a.m. local time, after being examined by Dr. Jim Moeller of
the USOC, Kwan, 25, informed USOC officials that she'd be unable to compete in
the Games. The call went out immediately to first alternate Emily Hughes, 17,
who was having dinner with her family at a Japanese restaurant on Long Island.
She was eating a sushi roll named after her older sister, the 2002 Olympic
champion: Sarah Gold.
may spell trouble for NBC's ratings--the network offered her a spot in the
booth, which she declined--but her misfortune has an upside. Without the Kwan
soap opera, attention at last may fall on the skaters who actually finished in
the top three at Nationals: Kimmie Meissner, 16, the youngest U.S. Olympian in
Turin; Hughes, who was bumped from the team to make room for Kwan; and Sasha
Cohen, 21, who'd finished higher than Kwan in the last two world championships
and is a strong contender for gold.