Kwan to skate in show ... for fun or a comeback?
Figure skater Michelle Kwan, whose trophy case is lacking only an Olympic gold medal, has left her options open regarding the Vancouver Games next February and whether she will make one more attempt at that elusive prize. Hip surgery, getting a degree from Denver University and her diplomatic work for the State Department have kept her busy, but she's now planning to skate in front of an audience for the first time in three years.
Is it just a favor to world champion Kim Yu-na, who invited her to perform in Seoul, South Korea, in August? Or the first triple salchow toward another Olympic appearance for Kwan, who will turn 29 on Tuesday?
Time will tell. But Kwan's agent, Shep Goldberg, confirmed Friday that Kwan will skate in Kim's show, to take place Aug. 14-16. The last time the five-time world champion and nine-time U.S. champion performed in front of a crowd was August of 2006, six months after an injury forced her to withdraw from the Turin Olympics.
"Michelle has turned down other invitations, but she and Yu-na have a mutual admiration society going," Goldberg said. "Michelle is feeling healthy and has her abilities up to the standards she sets for herself, which are very high standards."
Kwan won a silver medal at Nagano in 1998 and bronze at Salt Lake City in 2002. To compete in Vancouver, she would have to go through regional events and win one of two Olympic berths at the U.S. championships, which will be held next January in Spokane, Wash.
Her fellow Southern Californian and longtime rival, Turin silver medalist Sasha Cohen, has already announced she will try for a place on the Vancouver Olympic team. The upcoming figure skating season should be very interesting.
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Michelle Kwan appears at the American Idol Season 8 Grand Finale on May 20. Credit: Jason Merritt / Getty Images