Michelle Kwan left Turin today, the Olympics, and her competitive career. I’m feeling bittersweet — so sad for her, but so proud of her dignity, her sacrifice, and her perspective – to say nothing of her grace and dedication to skating.
I guess I’m an unlikely figure skating fan, it’s a pleasure and obsession that none of my friends or political cohorts share. But I try to catch every competition (the exhibition skating events aren’t interesting to me), and have certainly been glued to the tube for every winter Olympics skating for as long as I can remember.
I watched Michelle Kwan bloom into the ulitmate skater, and of course felt for her for the past two Olympics when younger skaters took the gold. It was really a long shot this year, since Michelle has sat out the past season. But there was still hope, and Michelle has come from behind so often. It is not just her longevity that gains her so many fans; it is her calm steadyness in the face of disappointment and her clear joy and passion in skating.
I will still watch the games this year. Irina has her own dramatic story that will be played out in her performances. Sasha Cohen is a stunning talent. But it won’t be the same without Michelle. Right now I can’t even stand the thought of her being in some silly fluff like Stars on Ice, though of course she has earned the right to go where her heart leads her, and where she can earn the fortune she deserves.