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Monday, January 8
Updated: January 22, 11:54 AM ET
Change is good for Michelle Kwan

ABC Sports

Michelle Kwan

At the start of the ISU season, defending World and three-time defending U.S. National champion Michelle Kwan sat down with ABC Sports to talk about the constant evolution that has become a part of her skating life. The following is an excerpt from the exclusive interview.

ABC Sports: When you competed in the last Olympics, you said you wanted people to remember you a certain way, with the beautiful but simple costume that you had. Well this year, working with Vera Wang, a top fashion designer, what do you want to portray to people? How do you want to be remembered?

Michelle Kwan: I made a few changes this year. I wanted something challenging. Some of the changes have been, like, Vera, I'm working with her. That's different than last year. And my show program's choreographed by Christopher Dean and my long program's choreographed by Laura Nichols. So, it'll give the judges sort of a different look of Michelle.

It's both challenging on the ice working with Christopher, as well as Laurie. I always want to evolve and not to stay the same. I don't know how really. I don't think that I have a goal that I wanna look a certain way this year. It's more a variety of things mixed together because I have my long program which is very different than my short. My short program has more of a bluesy, jazzy feel to it. My long is very elegant, sophisticated and it has a more stronger feel.

ABC Sports: Do you feel a sense of pressure on yourself, or does this change come naturally for you? Every year do you all of a sudden start thinking, Oh, you know, I really feel like doing this? Or do you feel this like a little bit of pressure to accomplish that goal of constantly evolving or changing?

Kwan: Last year I felt a little pressure with some outside people because they didn't wanna see the same old Michelle program. They were saying, "Oh, why does she do the same spirals, why does she do the same jumps, why does she do the same spins?" But, it's not that. It's everybody does a triple lutz, everybody does a triple flip. Of course my jumps aren't gonna change. Suddenly I'm not gonna make up this Kwan jump. But it's just that they know my skating so well, they know what to expect. They know how many triples are in my program, they know what spins I'm gonna do. It's just that you have to throw them off. You have to throw them a curve ball sometimes and just make them totally shocked.

This year I'm hoping that I can do harder triples, have a new costume, a new look, have a different hairstyle and just make little changes here and there so they're not bored of watching me. I think that's a challenge for myself as well. I was a little nervous this year because it's always a time that you get nervous, getting new programs, getting costumes and getting ready for the season. You don't know how people are gonna react to your programs or even if they will like it or not. But, if it's a good change or it's a bad change, I don't know, not until I go through with it. Even if it's, not as well liked as I hope, it's still a change and that's what matters... is that you're growing and you're not staying the same.

ABC Sports: Everyone knows you wear your red good luck charm around your neck. Will you be wearing that again this year and do you think it will at all influence something that Vera's making and maybe conflict with the whole look? Or is this like a standard thing and you must wear it and no questions asked?

Kwan: I don't know how many times people come up to me and say, "Are you gonna take that off?" Or if I get a massage, you know, and they're working on my neck or something they're like, "Can you take that off?" Or a photographer's like, "That's really distracting, can I?" The answer's "no" because it's very personal to me and it's something my grandmother gave me. I think it brings me good luck. So I hope it doesn't conflict with the costume or the whole package, but people know me with the necklace. Some people recognize me because of the necklace and it is part of me.

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