kids encyclopedia robot

Michelle Kwan facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Michelle Kwan
Michelle Kwan Baltimore.jpg
Kwan in 2001
Personal information
Full name Michelle Wingshan Kwan
Country represented  United States
Born (1980-07-07) July 7, 1980 (age 42)
Torrance, California, U.S.
Residence Rhode Island, U.S.
Height 5 ft 2 in (157 cm)
Former coach Rafael Arutyunyan
Frank Carroll
Scott Williams
Former choreographer Tatiana Tarasova
Lori Nichol
Nikolai Morozov
Sarah Kawahara
Peter Oppegard
Karen Kwan
Christopher Dean
Skating club Los Angeles FSC
Retired 2006
ISU personal best scores
Combined total 175.20
2005 Worlds
Short program 61.22
2005 Worlds
Free skate 113.98
2005 Worlds
Medal record
Ladies' singles figure skating
Representing the  United States
Event 1st 2nd 3rd
Olympic Games 0 1 1
World Championships 5 3 1
Grand Prix Final 1 4 0
World Junior Championships 1 0 0
Olympic Games
Silver 1998 Nagano Ladies' singles
Bronze 2002 Salt Lake City Ladies' singles
World Championships
Gold 1996 Edmonton Ladies' singles
Gold 1998 Minneapolis Ladies' singles
Gold 2000 Nice Ladies' singles
Gold 2001 Vancouver Ladies' singles
Gold 2003 Washington, D.C. Ladies' singles
Silver 1997 Lausanne Ladies' singles
Silver 1999 Helsinki Ladies' singles
Silver 2002 Nagano Ladies' singles
Bronze 2004 Dortmund Ladies' singles
Grand Prix Final
Gold 1995–1996 Paris Ladies' singles
Silver 1996–1997 Hamilton Ladies' singles
Silver 1999–2000 Lyon Ladies' singles
Silver 2000–2001 Tokyo Ladies' singles
Silver 2001–2002 Kitchener Ladies' singles
Goodwill Games
Gold 1998 New York City Ladies' singles
Silver 1994 Saint Petersburg Ladies' singles
Silver 2001 Brisbane Ladies' singles
World Junior Championships
Gold 1994 Colorado Springs Ladies' singles
Michelle Kwan
Michelle Kwan
Traditional Chinese 關穎珊
Simplified Chinese 关颖珊

Michelle Wingshan Kwan (born July 7, 1980) is an American diplomat and retired figure skater who is the Ambassador-designate of the United States to Belize. She is a two-time Olympic medalist (silver in 1998, bronze in 2002), a five-time World champion (1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003) and a nine-time U.S. champion (1996, 1998–2005). She is tied with Maribel Vinson for the all-time National Championship record.

She competed at the senior level for over a decade and is the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history. Known for her consistency and expressive artistry on ice, she is widely considered one of the greatest figure skaters of all time.

For well over a decade, Kwan maintained her status not only as America's most popular figure skater but as one of America's most popular female athletes. Kwan landed numerous major endorsement deals, starred in multiple TV specials and was the subject of extensive media coverage. From 1997 to 2005, she was the U.S. Figure Skating Association's top-paid skater in appearance fees and prize money, as well as one of the highest paid Winter Olympic athletes in endorsements. Kwan was also the highest-paid skater on the Champions on Ice tours.

In January 2022, President Joe Biden nominated Kwan to be United States Ambassador to Belize. She was confirmed by the Senate on September 29, 2022.

Early life and education

Born in Torrance, California, Kwan was the third child of Danny Kwan and Estella Kwan, Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong. Her father was a native of Canton and emigrated from Hong Kong to California in 1971. Kwan grew up speaking both Cantonese and English at home.

Kwan's interest in figure skating began at the age of five when she followed her two older siblings (ice hockey player Ron and figure skater Karen) onto the ice. Karen and Michelle began serious training when Michelle was about eight years old. They practiced three to four hours a day, waking up at 4:30am and arriving at the rink at 5:00am to skate before school, and then going back to the rink right after school to skate again. Paying for their increased skating-rink time led to financial hardship for Kwan's working-class family. When Kwan was ten years old, her family could no longer afford a coach, but they were offered financial assistance by a fellow member of the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club that allowed them to train at the Ice Castle International Training Center in Lake Arrowhead, California.

Kwan attended Soleado Elementary School in Palos Verdes, California, but left public school to be homeschooled in 1994, when she was in the 8th grade. After graduation from Rim of the World High School in 1998, Kwan attended UCLA for one year. In the fall of 2006, she transferred to the University of Denver. In June 2009, she graduated from Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies with a bachelor's degree in international studies and a minor in political science. In 2009, she began graduate studies in international relations at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and graduated in 2011. On May 8, 2010, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Southern Vermont College.


Michelle Kwan Spiral
Michelle Kwan performing her signature spiral at a practice session at the 2002 U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Kwan won five World Championships (1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003), tying her with Carol Heiss (1956–1960) for the most world titles by an American. Kwan's nine world medals overall is the all-time record for an American skater in any discipline. The only ladies' singles skater with more world titles or medals is Sonia Henie of Norway. Kwan won nine U.S. Championships (1996, 1998–2005), tying the record for most wins set by Maribel Vinson-Owen (1928–1933, 1935–1937). She holds the record for the most consecutive U.S. titles (eight) and most consecutive U.S. Championship medals (twelve). She also earned the silver medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and the bronze medal in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Kwan has received a combined total of 57 perfect marks (6.0s) at major competitions, the singles record under the former 6.0 judging system.

Early competition

In 1991, Michelle Kwan and her sister Karen began training with Frank Carroll in Lake Arrowhead, California. After one year of coaching by Carroll, 11-year-old Michelle placed 9th at the junior level at the United States Figure Skating Championships. At the age of 12 in 1992, Michelle passed the gold test to become a senior-level figure skater despite the disapproval of her coach. In 1993, Kwan finished sixth at her first senior U.S. championships. The next season, she won the 1994 World Junior Championships.

In 1994, Kwan finished second to Tonya Harding at the U.S. Championships, which ordinarily would have placed her on the U.S. team to the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. That place was instead given to 1993 national champion Nancy Kerrigan, who had been sidelined by an assault and battery (eventually connected to Harding's ex-husband Jeff Gillooly) after a practice session at those championships. The 13-year-old Kwan went to Norway as an alternate but did not compete. Kerrigan and Harding both dropped out of eligible competition before the 1994 World Championships. Because of this (and teammate Nicole Bobek not making out of the qualifying round), Kwan had the sole responsibility to ensure two entries for the U.S. at the 1995 World Championships by placing in the top ten. Kwan had an unusual mistake in the short program and placed eleventh in that portion of the competition, but skated a strong freestyle program and finished eighth overall.

At the 1995 U.S. Championships, Nicole Bobek won the gold medal, while Kwan again placed second after struggling with her lutz jump in both the short program and free skate. At the 1995 World Championships, she placed fifth in the short program portion of the competition with a clean performance. She landed seven triple jumps in her free skating performance and placed third in that portion of the competition. She finished fourth overall.

Artistic development and 1998 Olympics

Michelle began to develop a more mature style in 1996. Her new, more artistically expressive programs were "Romanza" (short program) and "Salome" (free skate). She also improved her extension, speed and jump technique, and performed to more difficult choreography. She won both the U.S. Championships and the World Championships in 1996. In the later event, she edged out defending champion Chen Lu in a very close competition in which both competitors garnered two perfect 6.0s for Presentation in the free skate.

In the 1996–97 season, Kwan skated to "Dream of Desdemona" (short program) and "Taj Mahal" (free skate). During this season, Kwan struggled with her jumps because of a growth spurt and problems with new skating boots which she wore for an endorsement contract with the manufacturer. She fell twice and stumbled once in her free skate at 1997 U.S. Nationals, losing the title to Tara Lipinski. She lost the Champion Series Final to Lipinski a month later. At the World Championships, Kwan stepped out of her triple lutz combination and placed 4th in the Short Program portion of the competition behind Lipinski, France's Vanessa Gusmeroli, and Russia's Maria Butyrskaya. Kwan skated a six triple, mistake-free performance to win the freestyle portion of the competition, but placed second to Lipinski overall.

Kwan started out the 1997–1998 Olympic season by winning Skate America (where she defeated Tara Lipinski) and then Skate Canada. However, she suffered a stress fracture on her foot and was forced to withdraw from her third Champions Series Final. Kwan regained her U.S. title from Lipinski at the 1998 National Championships, despite her fractured toe. Many people consider her performances of her Rachmaninoff short program and free skate set to William Alwyn's "Lyra Angelica" at the 1998 U.S. Championships to be the high point of her career from both a technical and artistic standpoint. The performances earned her fifteen perfect 6.0s and left two judges in tears.

Kwan and Lipinski were co-favorites to win the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan. Kwan placed first in the Short Program portion of the competition, winning eight first place votes out of nine judges. In the free skate, Kwan skated a clean 7-triple performance but placed behind Lipinski, who also did 7 triples including a triple loop/triple loop combination and a triple toe-loop/half-loop/Triple Salchow. Kwan ended up winning the silver medal, with the gold medal going to Tara Lipinski and the bronze medal to Chen Lu.

Lipinski and Chen both retired from competitive skating shortly after the Olympics, while Kwan went on to win the 1998 World Championships in Minneapolis.

From 1998 to 2002 Olympics

Michelle Kwan
Kwan completing her Scheherazade long program at the 2001–02 Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Ontario, Canada

Kwan continued to compete as an eligible skater in the 1998–99 season, although she bypassed the fall Grand Prix season and instead chose to skate in a series of made-for-television pro-am events. Her "regular" competitive programs that season were "Fate of Carmen" (short program) and "Lamento D'Ariane" (free skate). Kwan won her third national title at the 1999 U.S. Championships, competing against a weak field. At the 1999 World Championships, Kwan did not skate her best, and placed second behind Russian competitor Maria Butyrskaya.

Kwan's win at the 2000 U.S. Nationals was controversial to some. She was criticized for planning an easier solo jump in her short program than some of her competitors (a triple toe loop rather than a triple flip), and fell on this element in the competition. The judges nevertheless placed her third in that segment behind younger challengers Sasha Cohen and Sarah Hughes; however, the placement still kept her in contention for the title. Ultimately, she won the free skate with the best performance of the night, capturing 8 of the 9 first-place ordinals. At the 2000 World Championships, Kwan was again in third place after the short program, behind Maria Butyrskaya and Irina Slutskaya. In her free skate, Kwan landed seven triple jumps, including a triple toe loop/triple toe loop combination, and won that segment of the competition. Butyrskaya lost her commanding lead by finishing third behind Slutskaya in the free skate, allowing Kwan to win the overall title as well.

During the 2000–2001 season, Kwan began working with the famed designer (and former figure skater) Vera Wang, who designed most of her competition and exhibition costumes for the next six years. Kwan was only the second figure skater Wang designed for, following Nancy Kerrigan. At that year's national championships, Kwan again won the title, receiving first-place ordinals from all 9 judges in both the short program and free skate. At the 2001 World Championships, Kwan was second behind Slutskaya in the short program. Kwan won the title with her "Song of the Black Swan" free skate, executing 7 triples, including a triple toe loop/triple toe loop combination.

Kwan and Carroll decided to end their coaching relationship two days before the start of the 2001 Skate America competition. In interviews, Kwan said she needed to "take responsibility" for her skating. Coachless, Kwan arrived at the 2002 U.S. Championships in Los Angeles amid the media's scrutiny over her separation with Carroll and her season's inconsistencies. Kwan won the competition with a revived "Rachmaninoff" short program and a new "Scheherazade" program for her free skate, securing a place on the 2002 Olympic team. Joining her on the team were Sasha Cohen (second) and Sarah Hughes (third). The 21-year-old Kwan and Russia's Irina Slutskaya were favorites to win the gold. Kwan led after the short program, followed by Slutskaya, Cohen, and Hughes. In the free skate, Kwan two-footed her triple toe loop combination and fell on her triple flip, while Sarah Hughes skated a clean program. Kwan won the bronze medal behind Hughes and Slutskaya. Kwan's final event of the season was the 2002 Worlds, where she won the silver medal behind Slutskaya.


Kwan WM2004 1
Kwan skating to "Fallin'" in the 2004 World Figure Skating Championships in Dortmund, Germany

Kwan began working with coach Scott Williams in the summer of 2002. She continued to compete on the Olympic-eligible circuit, although in a more limited way. During the fall seasons of 2002 to 2004, Kwan competed in only one Grand Prix event, Skate America in the fall of 2002, which she entered as a last-minute replacement. She won the event and qualified for the Grand Prix Final but chose not to compete in it. Kwan chose to not compete in Grand Prix events in the 2003 and 2004 seasons where the new judging system was being used. Kwan won all phases of every competition she entered in the 2002–2003 competitive season with her programs: Peter Gabriel's "The Feeling Begins" from The Last Temptation of Christ (short program) and "Concierto de Aranjuez" (free skate). She won the U.S. Championships again and regained her World title.

In autumn 2003, she hired the noted technician Rafael Arutyunyan as her coach, with whom she attempted to increase the technical difficulty of her programs and hone her jump technique. In the 2003–2004 competitive season, she skated again to "The Feeling Begins" for her short program, and Puccini's "Tosca" for her long program. Again, Kwan won the U.S. Championships, earning seven more 6.0s for presentation during the free skating. At the 2004 World Championships, after a difficult qualifying round, Kwan was penalized in her short program for going two seconds over the time limit. This caused her to place fourth going into the long program, behind American Sasha Cohen, Japan's Shizuka Arakawa, and Miki Ando. Kwan skated a clean performance with five triples and received the last 6.0 marks given at the World Championships. She placed second in the free skating portion (she was one judge short from winning the free skating) and placed third overall, behind Arakawa (who performed seven triples, including two triple-triple combinations) and Cohen.

For the 2004–2005 competitive season, Kwan skated her long program to "Boléro", choreographed by British ice dancer Christopher Dean who had famously skated to the music with Jayne Torvill two decades before, and debuted a new short program, "Adagio" from Aram Khachaturian's ballet Spartacus. At the U.S. Championships, she won her 9th title, tying the all-time record previously set by Maribel Vinson-Owen. Vinson-Owen had coached Frank Carroll, who in turn coached Kwan. At the 2005 World Championship, Kwan competed for the first time under the new judging system. She had a rough qualifying round and placed third in the short program. In the free skate, Kwan fell on her triple salchow and two-footed a triple lutz. Although she finished third in both the short and long program portion of the competition, Kwan was edged by Carolina Kostner for the bronze medal and finished fourth overall, missing third place by 0.37 points. It was the first time since 1995 that Kwan had failed to medal at any international competition, and would be her final competitive event.

2006 Olympics

Michelle Kwan Turin 2006 Games
Kwan announcing her withdrawal from the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, February 12, 2006

Kwan looked at the 2005 Worlds as a learning experience in the ISU Judging System. She continued to train and stated that she would attempt to qualify for the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin, Italy. However, following a hip injury, she was forced to withdraw from her three planned competitions in the fall of 2005. Kwan skated her new short program ("Totentanz") at a made-for-TV event in December 2005, but her performance was well below her usual standard. On January 4, 2006, Kwan withdrew from the U.S. Figure Skating Championships with an abdominal injury incurred in December 2005. One week later, she filed a petition with the USFSA for a medical waiver to be placed on the 2006 Olympic figure skating team. On January 14, 2006, after the United States ladies' figure skating event, the USFSA's International Committee met and in a 20 to 3 vote approved Kwan's petition under the stipulation that she show her physical and competitive readiness to a five-member monitoring panel by January 27.

Kwan performed her long and short programs for the panel on the stipulated day, and her spot on the Olympic team was established, as the panel felt she was fit to compete. However, on February 12, 2006, the United States Olympic Committee announced that Kwan had withdrawn from the Games after suffering a new groin injury in her first practice in Turin. Kwan remarked that she "respected the Olympics too much to compete". The Turin organizing committee accepted the USOC's application for Emily Hughes (who had finished third at the U.S. Championships) to compete as Kwan's replacement.

After her withdrawal from the Olympic team, Kwan turned down an offer to stay in Turin as a figure skating commentator for NBC Sports. During an interview with Bob Costas and Scott Hamilton, Kwan said she was not retiring yet.

Kwan underwent elective arthroscopic surgery in August 2006 to repair a torn labrum in her right hip, an old injury which she traces back to 2002. According to Kwan, the surgery allowed her to skate pain-free for the first time in four years.

After 2006

Kwan did not compete during the 2006–2007 figure skating season.

Kwan told the Associated Press in October 2007 that she would decide in 2009 if she planned to compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics, but she ultimately decided not to do so, focusing instead on graduate school. She has said "Representing the United States as an American Public Diplomacy Envoy the past three years has been very rewarding, and I want to do more." After graduating from the University of Denver in 2009, Kwan said "Furthering my education will bring me closer to that goal, and I don't want to wait any longer to continue the journey."

On February 17, 2010, Kwan told ABC News in an interview that she was continuing her studies as a graduate student at the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, as well as continuing her work as a Public Diplomacy Envoy. Kwan also said she would be commentating for Good Morning America at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

In August 2009, Kwan made her first on-ice appearance in several years, performing at Ice All Stars, a show headlined by South Korean world champion Yuna Kim in Seoul, South Korea. Kim considered Kwan her idol growing up. Kwan also later appeared in Kim's All That Skate shows in South Korea and Los Angeles.

She was chosen as the guest of honor to help open a new synthetic skating rink at the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore in December 2010, where she performed a modified routine to "Winter Song", a program she self-choreographed with her sister. She returned to Singapore a month later as a Public Diplomacy Envoy to meet local students and to promote ice skating in the tropical country.

As of 2008, Kwan is a member of the Chinese-American organization Committee of 100. In 2014, Kwan joined Fox Sports 1 for its Winter Olympics broadcast.

Skating technique

Kwan was known for her unrivaled consistency in delivering clean programs, as well as her strong skating skills and deep, quiet edges that have been described as "silent blades" that "barely whispered". She was also known for her musicality and ability to combine grace and artistry with athleticism.

Although not of the greatest height nor explosive spring, Kwan, for most of her career, included all of the triples (except for the Axel) in her programs, including two lutzes (the most difficult jump after the Axel). She landed the triple toe-triple toe combination cleanly eleven times in competition, including at her 2000 and 2001 world championship victories. During the 2004–2005 season, she debuted a triple flip-double toe-double loop combination.

Beginning in the 1996–1997 season, Kwan debuted a change of edge spiral that soon became her signature move. Kwan's spiral was famed by commentators not only for its great extension and line, but also its speed, the strength and security of the edge, the deep lean and the easy smoothness of the change of edge. In the 1998–1999 season, Kwan revived a variation of the Charlotte spiral, a move innovated by German skater Charlotte Oelschlägel which had not been performed in decades.

Kwan's split falling leaf was praised by fellow skaters Dick Button and Peggy Fleming during competitions, for its effortlessness and perfect split position in the air. Kwan has done multiple split falling leaves in immediate succession (without any turns or steps in between) while maintaining a split position on both.

Another of her trademark moves is a Y-spin done consecutively on both feet. Kwan is also one of the few skaters who can spin in both directions.

Awards and accolades

Kwan is a recipient of the prestigious James E. Sullivan Award (2001), which is given to America's best amateur athlete; she was the first figure skater to win the award since Dick Button in 1949. In 2003, she was named the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) "Sportswoman of the Year", and is the 5th figure skater in history to receive this honor. She has also been named USOC "Athlete of the Month" fourteen times, which is more than any other athlete, male or female, as well as being named "Female Figure Skating Athlete of the Year" by the USOC multiple times. She is also the recipient of the USOC's "Citizenship Through Sports Alliance Award" (2004).

Kwan is one of only two multiple winners of the "Readers' Choice Figure Skater of the Year" award given by Skating magazine, winning it an unprecedented seven times (1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001–2003). In 2003, the United States Figure Skating Association, which publishes Skating, announced that the award would be renamed the "Michelle Kwan Trophy." The USFSA stated that although Kwan may continue to skate competitively, she would no longer be eligible for the award. The only other skater to win the award multiple times, Johnny Weir, only won it twice in comparison.

  • In 1999, Kwan was given the Historymakers Award by the Los Angeles Chinese American Museum.
  • In May 2000, Kwan was selected as one of People magazine's 50 most beautiful people.
  • In 2002, Kwan won the Teen Choice Award for favorite female athlete.
  • In 2002, Kwan was chosen as Cosmogirl of the year.
  • In 2002 and 2003, Kwan won the Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Award for favorite female athlete.
  • In 2005, Kwan traveled to Beijing to accept an award for being the "female athlete kids in China most admire" at the inaugural CCTV-Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Honors.
  • In 2007, the Women's Sports Foundation honored Kwan with the Billie Jean Award for her contribution to women's sports.
  • In May 2009, Kwan was honored by the Los Angeles Chinese Historical Society of Southern California in "Celebrating Chinese Americans in Sports".
  • In 2010, Kwan received an honorary doctorate's degree from Southern Vermont College and delivered the commencement speech for that year's graduation.
  • In 2012, Kwan was the sole inductee for the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame. She was also the sole inductee for the 2012 World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
  • In 2014, Kwan was honored by Harlem Skating for her career.
  • In 2017, Kwan was inducted into the California sports Hall of Fame.

Public life

Diplomatic positions

Michelle Kwan at the NLB, Singapore
Kwan in Singapore, January 2011

On November 9, 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice named Michelle Kwan as a public diplomacy ambassador. In this non-salaried position, Kwan represented American values, especially to young people and sports enthusiasts, and traveled widely. Kwan made her first overseas trip in the capacity of public diplomacy ambassador with a visit to China from January 17–25, 2007.

Her diplomatic position as an envoy continued in the Barack Obama administration where she worked with Vice President Joe Biden and then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Following her first trip to China as a public diplomacy envoy, Kwan continued her role in subsequent trips to Russia in June 2007, Argentina in March 2008, Ukraine in February 2009, South Korea in January 2010, and Singapore in January 2011.

On April 15, 2011, it was announced that Kwan would serve as an adviser to the U.S.-China Women's Leadership Exchange and Dialogue (Women-LEAD). In December 2012, Kwan was appointed as a State Department senior adviser for public diplomacy and public affairs.

In June 2015, Kwan announced that she would support Hillary Clinton's campaign efforts by working on outreach efforts from Clinton's headquarters in Brooklyn.

Ambassador to Belize

Secretary Blinken Meets With Ambassador Kwan (52488375156)
Kwan with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in 2022

On December 15, 2021, President Joe Biden announced that he intended to nominate Kwan to be United States Ambassador to Belize. She was formally nominated on January 7, 2022. Hearings on the nomination were held before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 18, 2022. Her nomination was reported favorably by the committee on June 9, 2022. She was confirmed by the Senate with a voice vote on September 29, 2022.


Kwan has guest-starred as herself in "Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass", an episode of The Simpsons, and in the Family Guy episode "A Hero Sits Next Door". She has also made guest star appearances in Arthur, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, and various other television series. She provided the voice of a shopkeeper in Disney's direct-to-DVD sequel Mulan II, She also did the voice of a fictionalized version of herself called Michelle Kwanzleberry in the series finale of Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! in 2010, and she and fellow figure skater Brian Boitano appeared as announcers in the film Ice Princess.

In 1998, Kwan struck a deal with Walt Disney Television that led to her starring in 3 prime-time skating specials on ABC: "Reflections on Ice" in 1998 (an ice skating adaptation of the Disney film Mulan, based on the Chinese legend), "Michelle Kwan skates to Disney's Greatest Hits" in 1999, and "Princess on Ice" in 2001, the last special featuring performances by pop bands O-Town and Shedaisy. She also appeared in various other televised skating specials throughout her career.

In 1999, she appeared in the Michelle Kwan Figure Skating computer game, released by Electronic Arts.

Other activities

Michelle Kwan Special Olympics 2010
Kwan at the Special Olympics Massachusetts, September 25, 2010

Scholastic published an autobiography by Kwan in 1998, titled Heart of a Champion, which is now in its sixth printing.

In 1999, Kwan signed with Disney Publishing Worldwide for an 8-book deal which included an inspirational book for children titled, The Winning Attitude: What it Takes to be a Champion, as well as a series of fictional skating books inspired by Kwan and written by Nola Thacker called "Michelle Kwan presents Skating Dreams".

In 2005, Kwan's family opened the EastWest Ice Palace in Artesia, California. The ice rink houses many of her skating medals and memorabilia.

In January 2009, Kwan was appointed a member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports by George W. Bush, a role which she had continued into the Obama administration.

Kwan has been a longtime supporter of the Special Olympics, taking part in "unified sports" events, which bring together athletes with intellectual disabilities and without. In 2011, she was added to the board of directors for the Special Olympics.


Kwan has had many endorsement contracts throughout her career, including Aim Funds, Campbell's, Caress soap (Unilever), Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, Disney, East West Bank, Got milk?, Kraft, Mattel, Maxxis, McDonald's, Minute Maid, Riedell Skates, Royal Caribbean International, Starbucks, United Airlines, Visa, and Yoplait.

Kwan's multi-year deal with Chevrolet (starting in 2000) was estimated to be worth over $1 million. The Chevrolet/Michelle Kwan R.E.W.A.R.D.S. Scholarship program was established by the Chevrolet Motor Division of General Motors in cooperation with Kwan.

In 2002, Kwan was named a "celebrity representative" and spokeswoman for The Walt Disney Company in a three-year deal reported to be worth $1 million a year. This deal was renewed and expanded in 2006.

Personal life

In September 2012, Kwan announced her engagement to Clay Pell, an American lawyer, military officer and former director for strategic planning on the National Security staff at the White House. In February 2014, he declared his candidacy for Governor of Rhode Island. He was unsuccessful in his bid. Pell is the grandson of the late Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell. The couple, who met in April 2011, were married on January 19, 2013, in Providence, Rhode Island. Vera Wang designed Kwan's wedding gown.

After four years of marriage, Pell filed for divorce from Kwan in March 2017 in California. Kwan learned of Pell's filing without warning via a tweet that was soon followed by an online article in the New York Daily News. A day later, Kwan filed for divorce from Pell in Rhode Island citing irreconcilable differences; Kwan attempted to serve Pell directly ten times in March and April 2017 but was unsuccessful. She eventually had to post the documents on the front door.

The couple have no children together but did acquire multiple assets during the union. Complicating matters was that Pell filed in California, a community property state, but Rhode Island, where the couple was married and Kwan filed her petition, is not.

On January 5, 2022, Kwan announced the birth of her first child.


Michelle Kwan career programs.

Season Short program Free skating Exhibition

  • This Used To Be My Playground
    by Madonna
  • The Feeling Begins
    (from The Last Temptation of Christ)
    by Peter Gabriel
    choreo. by Scott Williams, Michelle Kwan,
    Karen Kwan and Nikolai Morozov

  • The Feeling Begins
    (from The Last Temptation of Christ)
    by Peter Gabriel
    choreo. by Scott Williams, Michelle Kwan,
    Karen Kwan and Nikolai Morozov
  • Concierto de Aranjuez
    by Joaquín Rodrigo
    performed by Ikuko Kawai
    choreo. by Scott Williams, Michelle Kwan,
    Karen Kwan, and Nikolai Morozov

  • A csodálatos mandarin (The Miraculous Mandarin)
    by Béla Bartók
    choreo. by Peter Oppegard

  • East of Eden
    by Lee Holdridge
    choreo. by Lori Nichol

  • A csodálatos mandarin (The Miraculous Mandarin)
    by Béla Bartók
    choreo. by Peter Oppegard
  • East of Eden
    by Lee Holdridge
    choreo. by Lori Nichol

  • O canto do cisne negro (Song of the Black Swan)
    by Héitor Villa-Lobos
  • Dumky Trio
    by Antonín Dvořák
    choreo. by Lori Nichol
  • Beautiful World
    by Sumi Jo

  • This Time Around
    by Linda Eder
  • The Red Violin
    by John Corigliano
    performed by Joshua Bell
    choreo. by Lori Nichol
  • The World Is Not Enough
    by Garbage

  • Hands
    (from Joy: A Holiday Collection)
    by Jewel

  • Ariane
  • Orchestral Suite No. 3
  • Orchestral Suite No. 6
    by Jules Massenet
  • Absalom's Death And Tango
    by Leonid Desyatnikov
    performed by Gidon Kremer
    choreo. by Lori Nichol

  • East of Eden
    by Lee Holdridge
    choreo. by Lori Nichol

  • Lyra Angelica
    by William Alwyn
  • Gymnopedie #3
    by Erik Satie
    choreo. by Lori Nichol

  • Dante's Prayer
    by Loreena McKennitt
  • Orchestral Suite No. 3
    by Jules Massenet
  • Final from Herodiade
    by Jules Massenet
  • The Red Poppy
    by Reinhold Gliere
    choreo. by Lori Nichol
  • Gyulistan Bayati Shiraz
    by Fikret Amirov
  • Lion of the Desert
    by Maurice Jarre
    choreo. by Lori Nichol
  • Romanza
    by Salvador Bacarisse
  • Fiesta Flamenca
    by Monty Kelly
    choreo. by Lori Nichol
  • East of Eden
    by Lee Holdridge

  • Just Around the Riverbend
    (from Pocahontas)
    by Judy Kuhn

choreo. by Lori Nichol

  • Yellow River Piano Concerto
    by Xian Xinghai
    performed by Yin Chengzong, Chu Wanghua

choreo. by Lori Nichol

  • East of Eden
    by Lee Holdridge

choreo. by Lori Nichol

  • East of Eden (1981 TV miniseries)
    by Lee Holdridge
  • Miss Saigon
    by Claude-Michel Schönberg

Competitive highlights

Major events for Olympic-eligible skaters include the World Figure Skating Championships, the Olympic Winter Games, the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, and for American skaters, the U.S. Championships. Kwan's record in these events is listed by season in the tables below. Competitive outings.

Event 91–92 92–93 93–94 94–95 95–96 96–97 97–98 98–99 99–00 00–01 01–02 02–03 03–04 04–05 05–06
Olympics Alt 2nd 3rd WD
Worlds 8th 4th 1st 2nd 1st 2nd 1st 1st 2nd 1st 3rd 4th
GP Final 1st 2nd 2nd 2nd 2nd
GP Nations Cup 1st
GP Skate America 7th 2nd 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
GP Skate Canada 1st 1st 1st 2nd 3rd
GP France 3rd 1st
Goodwill Games 2nd 1st 2nd
International: Junior
Junior Worlds 1st
Gardena 1st Jr.
U.S. Champ. 9th J 6th 2nd 2nd 1st 2nd 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
GP = Became part of Champions Series in 1995–1996, Grand Prix from 1998 to 1999
J. = Junior level, WD = Withdrew, Alt = Alternate (did not compete)
Women's History Month on Kiddle
Women Scientists of Antiquity
Mary the Jewess
kids search engine
Michelle Kwan Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.