KWAN CALLS THIS TEAM `AMAZING'; LIPINSKI, BOBEK ALSO ADVANCE.
Byline: Barry Wilner Associated Press Associated Press: see news agency.
Associated Press (AP)
Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world.
The United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. is sending its three brightest skating stars to Nagano, and any of them could be golden.
Michelle Kwan Michelle Wing Kwan (關穎珊) (born 7 July 1980) is an American figure skater and media celebrity who has won nine U.S. championships, five world championships, and two Olympic medals. ? She came as close to perfection Adv. 1. to perfection - in every detail; "the new house suited them to a T"
just right, to a T, to the letter as possible Saturday night, getting eight 6.0s out of nine marks for artistry in the free skate to win her second U.S. Figure Skating U.S. Figure Skating (USFS), officially called the United States Figure Skating Association or USFSA, is the national sport governing body for figure skating in the United States. Championship in three years. The 1996 world and U.S. winner got seven 6.0s in the short program Thursday.
Tara Lipinski Tara Kristen Lipinski (born June 10 1982) is an American figure skater and celebrity. At the age of 15, she won the Olympic gold medal in figure skating at the 1998 Winter Olympics, and remains the youngest gold medalist in the history of the Olympic Winter Games. ? The 1997 world and U.S. winner came back from a rare weak performance in the short to nail every element of her free skate and, at 15, soar onto the Olympic team.
Nicole Bobek Nicole Bobek (born August 23, 1977) is an American figure skater. She was the U.S. Champion in 1995, and won a bronze medal at the World Figure Skating Championships the same year. ? The fire she carries within translated into a week of marvelous skating, all dedicated to the memory of her late coach.
``Absolutely, 1-2-3, no problem,'' Bobek said.
``I think with the performances you saw tonight from these three girls,'' added Lipinski's coach, Richard Callaghan For the Irish football (soccer) player, see .
Richard Callaghan is an American figure skating coach. He is best known as the long-time coach of Todd Eldredge, 6-time U.S. Champion and 1996 World Champion. He also coached Nicole Bobek to her national title, and Tara Lipinski to U. , ``there's a great chance to go 1-2-3.''
Kwan, 17, received the most 6.0s in a free skate in the nationals for any skater, earning the automatic berth on the U.S. team. An international committee later chose Lipinski and Bobek, meaning the last three women to win the American crown go to Japan.
``This is an amazing team,'' Kwan said.
After Bobek nailed every element of her program with grace, Lipinski was even better doing a more difficult routine with seven triple jumps, including her trademark triple loop-triple loop.
``I knew I had to skate well for myself and also for my dream to come true,'' she said.
Then came Kwan, who was sidelined in November and December with a stress fracture stress fracture
A fatigue fracture of bone caused by repeated application of a heavy load, such as the constant pounding on a surface by runners, gymnasts, and dancers. of a toe on her left foot. Performing to ``Lyra Angelica,'' she was almost heavenly.
Skating in front of her idol, Brian Boitano Brian Anthony Boitano (born October 22, 1963 in Mountain View, California) is an Italian-American figure skater from Sunnyvale, California. He is a four-time US National Champion (1985-1988), two-time World Champion (1986, 1988) and the 1988 Olympic gold medalist. , who was working for ABC-TV, Kwan equaled Boitano's achievement of eight perfect scores in the 1988 national championships.
``I have talked to Brian and asked him how it feels to be national, world and Olympic champion,'' she said after blowing a kiss to Boitano. ``We talked about it a lot and I took a lot of inspiration from him.''
Kwan hit six triple jumps, two in combination, but it was the beauty of her performance that jumped out at the judges and the crowd, which chanted ``6.0! 6.0!'' as she awaited her marks.
``I just listened to the crowd and listened to the music and I thought of angels and clouds,'' Kwan said.
``I knew before that the 6.0s were going to come up,'' Boitano said. ``I just knew. I knew America would send her with a really strong win.''
America is sending perhaps its strongest women's team ever. Kwan will be the favorite at Nagano.
But Lipinski, the 15-year-old jumping jack who has added considerable charm and personality to her routines, will push Kwan all the way to the medals podium.
``Coming here and doing great, I think I can do anything,'' Lipinski said.
Bobek, 20, who has staged a rousing revival of her career since winning the 1995 U.S. crown, also might feel that way. She certainly has the motivation: the memory of Carlo Fassi Carlo Fassi (December 20, 1929 – March 20, 1997) was a well-known Italian figure skater and international coach. Career
Fassi was born in Milan.
As a competitor, he won the European Championships in 1953 and 1954, and also won the bronze medal at the World , her coach who died last March during the world championships, when she plummeted to 13th.
``The minute I finished, the first thing that ran through my head was Carlo,'' she said tearfully. ``I felt like Carlo was there. I felt like I could see him. He is always with me. I know that.''
Tonia Kwiatkowski, the 26-year-old veteran skating in her final nationals, entered the free skate - worth two-thirds of the total score - in third place. But she struggled as the last skater after Kwan, Lipinski and Bobek soared, and fell to fourth.
Earlier Saturday, Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow won their record-tying fifth U.S. championship in ice dancing. They equaled the achievements of Judy Schwomeyer and James Sladky (1968-72) and Judy Blumberg and Michael Seibert (1981-85).
``We're pretty excited about our fifth title,'' Swallow said.
PHOTO (Color) U.S. Skating champion Michelle Kwan performs her free skating routine, which drew more perfect scores.