Although she is the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history, Michelle Kwan still says she's an introvert.
"It just doesn't come naturally to stand up and speak in front of people. And that's kind of crazy since I skated in front of thousands of fans for years," said the 31-year-old Kwan, who was invited by ESPN to be a part of the "Power of IX" Speaker Series on Thursday in Bristol, Conn. "It takes a lot of effort for me to come out of my shell. But it helps that I am interested in people."
Kwan started skating as an 8-year-old in California, practicing three or four hours a day. As a young adult, she went on to win two Olympic medals and five world championships. Since giving up the sport in 2006 because of a hip injury, Kwan hasn't slowed down.
In November 2006, she was announced as the first U.S. Public Diplomacy Envoy. She began traveling the world to speak with young people about leadership.
In June 2010, she was appointed to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, a group that advises the president on educating Americans to lead healthy lifestyles.
In May 2011, she received a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, majoring in international relations.
"For the last six years, I've stepped away from figure skating and grown in so many ways," Kwan said. "I'm just so lucky to be able to give back. I'm just so grateful for all these opportunities."
And Kwan still hasn't ruled out appearing on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." She has been asked several times to compete. Other figure skaters such as Kristi Yamaguchi and Evan Lysacek have competed.
"I think it would be a lot of fun but I know it takes so much dedication and time," Kwan said. "I just don't know if I can find the time right now, moving to Los Angeles for the show. I love all these new challenges I'm facing. I still need to see what I can do with this life."