Recovered Kwan won't rule out eventual return to competition

For now, she's on tour with Champions on Ice.
NEW YORK (AP) -- There were no medals for Michelle Kwan this season, so her parents hauled out the old ones.
Golds and silvers and bronzes. Credentials, trophies, and plaques. Everything.
The idea was not to cheer up the 25-year-old figure skating icon after a lost year in which she never competed in a significant event and was forced out of the Turin Olympics with a groin injury. Nor was it to show off her incredible collection dating to the early 1990s.
No, all those awards were headed for a display at the East West Ice Palace in Artesia, Calif., where Kwan practices. She's also a co-owner.
"I am very thrilled it has lasted this long," she said, "and to have the chance to put on display all my trophies and awards and medals. A lot I have not seen since the day I got them. They were all over my parents' house. I just have one or two skating things in my house.
Impressive collection
"They were all hidden and my parents dusted them off. I thought, 'Wow, Michelle, can you believe this?' We were reminiscing over all the competitions and you really can't put it in perspective until you gather all of the credentials and medals and trophies -- everything."
Kwan wants the collection to inspire other skaters and bring new blood to her sport. She might have another way of inspiring them -- by remaining an eligible competitor.
"Don't close any doors unless you want them closed," Kwan said from Naples, Fla., where she's preparing for Friday's opening of the Champions on Ice Tour, which will be her first skating appearance in public since her one ill-fated training session in Italy. She withdrew the next day with a groin injury, and was replaced by Emily Hughes.
"I was joking with Irina [Slutskaya, the Turin bronze winner] today that, in four years, you never know.
"We both have not won the big one, and you never know in four years, you could be stronger and capable of doing it. If both of us are healthy and still motivated and inspired and all, it would be great."
Nine national titles
Kwan's already had an incredible career. She owns nine national championships and five world titles. She has been the biggest star in her sport for a decade and is one of America's most recognized athletes.
But this season was unfulfilling, marked by injuries and idleness. She skipped the Grand Prix series -- important events in an Olympic year -- and was sidelined for nationals by a groin problem.
Awarded a medical bye onto the U.S. team for Turin, she needed to pass a monitoring examination by figure skating officials before heading to Italy. Her stay at the Olympics lasted less than two days after the opening ceremony.
Her tearful farewell news conference in Turin is not the way she wants to be remembered.
One day at a time
"Medals don't really mean anything, it is about the skating itself. If I stay around, it would be the skating itself," said Kwan, who wasn't expected to remain eligible for Turin, but won three national championships and one world crown in the interim. "Same as after 2002, I'm going one day at a time. Surely, I leaned toward that direction after Salt Lake City, but it was the sport itself, not waiting for another chance at the gold medal.
"I see it as the other times you would be on the ice and compete. You can't justify spending four years of your life for just one moment. Some might, but I am not one of those athletes."
Kwan recognizes that modern figure skating favors the jumpers and, generally, the youngsters. But Olympic champion Shizuka Arakawa of Japan is 24.
Of course, 16-year-old American Kimmie Meissner just won the world championships.
"I think the main thing is to get better health-wise and then everything is based around that," said Kwan, who is not 100 percent fit, but close. "If I see myself healthy, I can see myself in every situation.
"I'm a bit of the past, a bit of the present and, hopefully, some of the future."
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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