Kwan gets final Olympic team spot



The U.S. champion showed a panel of judges she could compete at her best.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Michelle Kwan is going to Turin, and she's going for gold.
Kwan sealed her spot on the Olympic team Friday, showing a five-person monitoring committee with jumps, spins and those majestic spirals what she said two weeks ago: She'll be healthy enough to compete in Turin.
And compete with the best.
"I'm thinking gold is good," Kwan said at a news conference after the monitoring committee announced its decision. "I'm staying positive, feeling good. I'm injury free. So right now, it's just going for it."
Received medical bye
The five-time world and nine-time U.S. champion was given a medical bye onto the Turin Olympic team two weeks ago -- with the condition she prove by Friday that she had recovered from the groin injury that had kept her out of the national championships.
That she certainly did. She performed both her long and short programs in less than 12 minutes, a quick practice session, and did every one of her jumps except the triple loop.
"It is truly the opinion of this monitoring team that Michelle could win the Olympics," said Bob Horen, chairman of U.S. Figure Skating international committee. "We really believe that, and she skated that way. We really do believe she's skating very well."
Unanimous decision
When the session was over, Kwan curtsied to the committee and then went home to await the decision. The committee -- Horen, technical controller Charlie Cyr; world judge Paula Naughton; international judge Lorrie Parker; and athlete representative Brittney Bottoms -- debated for about an hour and then delivered a unanimous decision: Kwan deserves another shot at gold.
"It feels awesome," Kwan said, grinning. "When I first put in the petition I believed I would be 100 percent at the Olympics, and I still believe it."
Rest of the team
In Turin, she'll join Sasha Cohen, who won her first national championship earlier this month, and 16-year-old Kimmie Meissner on the U.S. team. Emily Hughes, younger sister of 2002 Olympic champion Sarah Hughes and bronze medalist at nationals, will be the alternate in case one of the three is injured before women's figure skating begins Feb. 19.
"I have a lot of work and a lot of improvement to make," Kwan said, but she expressed confidence, especially if she can add a triple-triple combination to her program.
"One of the reasons why I put in the petition is that I do have a shot. I can't tell you the percentage. I will take advantage of that shot and do my best. As of now I'm right on schedule."
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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