Michelle Kwan


Michelle Kwan

World Champion Figure Skater
(Jul. 07, 1910 – Present)

Reading Grade Level:

1st – 2nd

3rd – 4th

5th & up

Michelle Kwan is an Olympic figure skating champion. She has won more world awards than any other skater in the U.S.! She was born in Torrance, California on July 7, 1980, to immigrant parents from Hong Kong, China. When she was five years old she began skating after watching her older brother play hockey. After practicing for a year she entered her first competition and won first place!

When she was 13 years old she competed in the 1994 World Championships. This was a big deal as she was skating against dozens of people from all over the world. In 1998 she competed in her first Olympics and won the silver medal! The Olympics is a sporting event that takes place every four years where thousands of athletes compete on behalf of their home countries. Michelle sometimes lost, but she never let that stop her from practicing and performing. In 2002 Michelle went back to the Olympics and won third place, the bronze medal!

Michelle’s most famous move on the ice is the “Change of Edge Spiral.” She keeps her back leg high up in the air as she gracefully glides and turns by skating on the very edge of the blade of her skates. See her perform this move for her Olympic win in the video below!

Michelle’s skating wins quickly made her a household name. She was invited to be in TV shows and movies and wrote books. In between competing in the Olympics, Michelle won five world titles in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, and 2003. She also went on to win nine U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Sadly, a few years later at the age of 26, Michelle had to step down from competing because of an injury.

After her injury, Michelle decided to take a break from skating. She went back to school and graduated from college. Michelle also began working for the U.S. government as a public diplomacy ambassador. This meant that she traveled across the U.S. and the world, as a role model for young people. When the 2010 Olympics came around, Michelle decided not to compete so that she could focus on school and her job as an ambassador. Michelle went back to college to earn a master’s degree in law and diplomacy. Michelle’s incredible moves on the ice and dedication to making the world a better place continues to inspire young people around the world!

(Watch Michelle’s Olympic winning performance!)

Reflection Question

Michelle’s famous skating move is called the “Change of Edge Spiral.” If you were to invent a skating move what would it look like, and what would you name it?