Kwan captures fourth World crown

Updated: February 14, 2006, 7:32 AM ET
By Bob Phillips | Special to

Signature Skate

March 24, 2001 - Coming into the 2001 World Championships at Vancouver's General Motors Palace, Michelle Kwan was facing the best competition the world had to offer in the sport of women's figure skating, namely Irina Slutskaya of Russia and Sarah Hughes of the U.S., the two skaters most likely to challenge Kwan for the Olympic gold medal in Salt Lake City in 2002. Skating with confidence, Kwan exhibited the grace and style that has become her trademark.

Though trailing Slutskaya entering the long program, Kwan successfully executed the triple toe-triple toe combination that had given her so much trouble throughout her career, and threw in a triple lutz-double toe combination, a triple salchow, a triple flip, another triple lutz and a triple loop for good measure.

When it was over, she pumped her fists in the air in exhilaration. The victory was her fourth world title.

"In the last month, [coach] Frank [Caroll] and I just said, 'This is it. Make it or break it,'" Kwan said. "It turns out I peaked at the right time."

Odds 'n' Ends

  • Kwan's older sister Karen finished fifth at the Nationals in 1996 and seventh the next year.

  • In 1996, Kwan -- at 15 -- became the third-youngest skater ever to win the World Championships -- and the youngest American ever to do so.

  • She was one of 10 finalists for the 1996 Sullivan Award, given annually to the outstanding amateur athlete in the U.S.

  • She was named Female Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1996, 1998 and 1999.

  • She captured the silver medal at the 2001 Goodwill Games in Australia.

  • Kwan was named the winner of the prestigious Dial Award, given to annually to the top high school scholar-athlete in the country, in 1997.

  • She was selected as the 1998 Women's Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year.

  • She won the gold medal at the 1998 Goodwill Games and the silver in 2001.

  • Kwan has won eight USOC Sportswoman of the Month honors.

  • In May 2000, Kwan was named one of People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World."

  • She earns approximately $1 million a year from tours and promotions.

  • Her nickname is Shelly.

  • Her official biography is Michelle Kwan: Heart of a Champion, published in 1997.

  • A top student, Kwan took classes at UCLA part-time.

  • Her hobbies include swimming, bowling, biking and "hanging out with friends at Lake Arrowhead."

  • Kwan wears a Chinese good luck charm around her neck that was given to her by her grandmother.

  • Her favorite athlete is Michael Jordan and her favorite book is Night, about the Holocaust, by Elie Wiesel.

  • Kwan speaks and understands some Cantonese, a Chinese dialect. She is also learning Mandarin.

  • She has appeared on television as Peter Pan in the special Disney's Greatest Hits on Ice, and with Brian Boitano in Skating Romance III.

  • Kwan signed an exclusive deal with EA Sports to create the first interactive figure-skating game. Michelle Kwan Figure Skating debuted in the fall of 1999.

  • In 2005, Kwan fell trying to land a triple salchow and finished less than half a point out of third, missing a medal in the world championships for the first time since 1995.

  • Kwan pulled out of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, because of a groin injury.