Michelle Kwan reflects on Nagano, 20 years later
NBCOlympics.com caught up with 1998 Olympic figure skating silver medalist Michelle Kwan to ask her to reflect on her memories from Nagano.
At NBCOlympics we’re big on anniversaries. Can you believe it’s gonna be 20 years?
Don’t say that!
I won’t say the number, but it’s a big anniversary.
It’s amazing. The Olympic Games is one of those moments that you remember forever. From the moment that you step foot in the country that you’re competing in to the Closing Ceremony. It’s the highlight. When I look back at my life, my career, I’m sure it’s gonna be one of those highlights that you never forget.
Do you have a favorite memory from being there?
Oh. The moment I stepped foot on the Olympic ice, and skating over the Olympic rings, I started to cry. I like, you know you dream of going to the Olympics, and then you finally make it happen, and then you skate over the rings, you’re like, “It’s happening.” But I actually skated to the boards, and my coach was like, he was basically like slapping, like “Wake up!” I still have a job to do.
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How did you overcome that? How did you get rid of the tears and get ready to go?
You train your whole life for it and you have to realize you still have a job to do. I think it’s a quick reality. I’m glad I got it over with before I stepped on the ice when I was competing.
So since then, are you talking smack with Tara or anything?
Oh, no, I mean, the thing is, I think what the media likes to play up is this like rivalry between athletes. When in fact, you’re only competing against yourself and you’re trying to do your very best. In figure skating, you have four minutes to do your best. It’s your time, you do your best. You know? As opposed to – it’s not a tennis match. I’m not directly against a person. I’m there to do my best.
Did you get to do anything fun away from the competition while you were there?
I mean, because the ladies compete at the very end, it’s the last event. It’s tough to be like having fun and partying. When people talk about the Village, you do get a chance to meet interesting people from different countries, and build those friendships that last for a lifetime. I’ve been to the World Women’s Sports Foundation for years, and it’s like, this is friends that I’ll in touch with for the rest of my life.
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Will you do anything fun to celebrate the anniversary in February?
I haven’t thought about it but now you’ve, like, got me thinking. I’ve got to do something big.
When was the last time you watched it all the way through?
I can’t actually tell you. I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s not like every day you like watch YouTube and you’re kind of like, “Oh. This is what I used to do!” You were there. So it’s like, you have those memories.