We interrupt your regular GP season program for a special announcement…
Michelle Kwan will likely take her rightful spot in the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame this January in San Jose.
Kwan fans like myself knew this was coming, but to see her name officially on the ballot does two things.
- It reaffirms all those moments in which she redefined both herself and her sport, becoming one of the rare living legends we ever see. Michelle Kwan in the HOF just feels right. It is right. Her national title mark (9) won’t be touched for a long time … if ever. Her five World titles will likely hold up just fine as well. Her Olympic medals only add to her already impressive resume. And we’re not even going to get into her other medal counts. Michelle Kwan was figure skating for plenty of years, and that is more than enough to deserve this honor.
- It closes one final door. Call me an eternal optimist, a hopeless dreamer, or anything else that defines blissful unwillingness to accept the end of a good thing. It’s all true. Yes, somewhere beneath the death-grip of reality, there was a tiny sliver of hope left that we’d get to see Michelle make it an even 10 national titles. Improbable? Um, yes. Unlikely? The most. But have stranger things happened? Does my heart still ache thinking of how close she was to a life-long dream — twice if not three times — without attaining it? Yes and yes. I’ll admit, I haven’t been too haunted by the lack of nomination before now because of the reality the award brought with it. Reality and finality. The legend that is Michelle Kwan and the illustrious career she gifted to us all is over.
I suppose that’s the definition of bittersweet, eh?
Nevertheless, congratulations to Ms. Kwan. She was and will always be the heart and soul of my figure skating obsession. She has moved on to become a sparkling success, just as we knew she would. Her impact on generations of children will be huge. And the memories she left me with will always be some of my most favorite. My only regret is that I never saw her compete live (why, oh why did she have to be injured in 2006?!).
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again — I’ve never been so proud of someone I’ve not met. Her legend is more than her titles and medals. It is the way she won, the way she lost, the way she taught us all to love what we do and do what we love, no matter the consequences of the risks we take in pursuing the dream.
She bore her heart through her skating. If we could only be so lucky to find that passion and display it with the grace and integrity she did — and does still.
I could go on and on (and on … and on…) about this woman, what her career meant to the sport, to her successors, to me. But, once you begin, where do you really stop?
Yes, I’m gushing. No, I’m not maintaining my journalistic neutrality. But sometimes, even we have to step back and remember why we’re fans in the first place.
For me, that reason is Michelle Kwan.
Congratulations, Michelle. The Hall of Fame, just as skating as a whole, is a better place having had you in it.