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Published: Friday, 1/27/2006

Kwan earns another chance at Olympics gold


LOS ANGELES With jumps, spins and those majestic spirals, Michelle Kwan showed she is good and healthy enough today and earned one more run at that elusive Olympic gold medal.

Kwan sealed the spot on the U.S. Olympic team that she was handed two weeks ago, proving to a five-person monitoring committee that she s recovered from the groin injury that kept her out of the national championships. She performed both her long and short programs in less than 12 minutes, a quick practice session, and did every one of her jumps except the triple loop.

The 95-minute session, which included a 45-minute break, was conducted at the East West Ice Palace in Artesia, Calif., her home rink. and was monitored by U.S. Figure Skating international committee chairman Bob Horen; technical controller Charlie Cyr; world judge Paula Naughton; international judge Lorrie Parker; and athlete representative Brittney Bottoms.

Kwan curtsied to the committee when the session was over, then went to await its decision.

That decision was exactly what she wanted to hear: Kwan is going to Turin.

It feels awesome, Kwan said at a news conference.

When I first put in the petition I believed I would be 100 percent at the Olympics, and I still believe it.

Now, she s ready to try to fill in the missing part of her resume.

Thinking gold is good, Kwan said. I m staying positive, feeling good. I m injury free. So right now, it s just going for it.

The committee agreed.

It is truly the opinion of this monitoring team that Michelle could win the Olympics, Horen said. We really believe that, and she skated that way. We really do believe she s skating very well.

Kwan, 25, a five-time world and nine-time U.S. champion, has stuck around the last four years in hopes of one more shot at Olympic gold. She went to Nagano and Salt Lake City as the gold-medal favorite, but wound up with silver (1998) and bronze (2002).

In Turin, Kwan will join Sasha Cohen, who won her first national championship earlier this month, and 16-year-old Kimmie Meissner on the U.S. team. Emily Hughes, younger sister of 2002 Olympic champion Sarah Hughes and bronze medalist at nationals, will be the alternate in case one of the three is injured before women s figure skating begins Feb. 19.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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