Kwan wins fifth World Skating title

March 30, 2003 at 9:06 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 30 (UPI) -- - With a brilliant performance in her long program, Michelle Kwan wrote her name in the history of the World Figure Skating Championships Saturday night with a fifth title.

The leader after the short program, Kwan's routine to "Arajuez" by Joaquin Rodrigo was close to perfect. After she completed six triples - including two in combination - the sellout crowd cheered for the final 45 seconds of her routine.

During a last footwork sequence, Kwan finally let down the game face she has worn all week and beamed. At the end of the program, the audience chanted "Six, six."

"At the very end in the footwork, it was just `Yeah,'" Kwan said. "I heard them, but I had to take one thing at a time. I was in my body tonight, not like sometimes, when I just let it go."

Two judges agreed with the fans, awarding perfect 6.0 scores for presentation. The rest of her artistic marks were 5.8s and 5.9s, while her technical scores ranged from 5.7 to 5.9.

Kwan, the first woman to reclaim her gold medal three times in a row, became only the third American to capture five World titles. The seven-time U.S. champion moved into a tie with Dick Button and Carol Heiss for most gold medals by an American. She has won eight consecutive world medals, five gold and three silver.

Kwan said she no longer cares about results but rather the sensations she receives on the ice.

"I have nothing to lose, nothing to prove," she said. "Medals are just medals. I think it's about the performance, the love and the feeling I get when I out there in front of the crowd. It feels like you're in this weird dimension. I feel like I'm walking through time, walking on air."

Still only 22, Kwan was asked whether she will participate in the 2006 Torino Olympics. She was favored at the last two Winter Games to claim gold but took home silver and bronze.

"The 2006 (Olympics) is a long ways away, but you never know," said Kwan, who could turn professional. "I can't imagine being professional. I like the everyday hard work. Why stop what you love doing? I feel relaxed and everything is extra for me. No pressure, easy going."

Russia's Elena Sokolova claimed the silver and Fumie Suguri of Japan edged American Sasha Cohen for her second straight bronze.

Sokolova capped a comeback season. She suffered a concussion when a luggage bag hit her in the head during a plane flight and sustained a meniscus injury 1 1/2 months ago that hampered her preparation.

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