Nine-time U.S. champion Michelle Kwan today announced that she will not compete during the 2009-10 season. Kwan will instead attend graduate school full time at Tufts University’s Fletcher School this fall, where she will pursue a master’s degree in international affairs.
Kwan, a five-time World champion and two-time Olympic medalist, last competed in 2005. She had contemplated a return to skating, with the goal of representing the United States at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in February.
“Skating will always be a part of me,” Kwan said. “But, in the bigger picture of my life, I have always wanted to find a career that will allow me to make a positive contribution and difference in the world. Representing the United States as an American Public Diplomacy Envoy the past three years has been very rewarding, and I want to do more. Furthering my education will bring me closer to that goal, and I don’t want to wait any longer to continue the journey.”
Kwan, 29, will continue in her capacity as an American Public Diplomacy Envoy for the U.S. State Department and a member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. In addition, she will perform in skating exhibitions, work as a television commentator, serve as a corporate spokesperson and be involved in special projects as her school schedule permits.
Last month Kwan announced that she will skate before an audience for the first time in three years when she joins World champion Yu-Na Kim in Ice All-Stars 2009 in Seoul, South Korea, in August.
The most decorated figure skater in U.S. history, Kwan won an unprecedented 43 championships, including five World championships (1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003), eight consecutive and nine overall U.S. championships (1996, 1998-2005) and two Olympic medals (silver, 1998; bronze, 2002). In the nearly 100-year history of U.S. figure skating, no American man or woman has won more World or U.S. titles.
Kwan’s activities off the ice have been equally noteworthy. In November 2006, the U.S. Secretary of State appointed her as the first American Public Diplomacy Envoy. In this capacity, Kwan travels the world and meets with young people to speak about leadership and engage them in dialogue on social and educational issues. In January 2009, Kwan was appointed to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, a group that advises President Barack Obama on ways to promote regular physical activity to improve the health of all Americans. Kwan graduated from the University of Denver in November 2008 with a degree in international studies.
Kwan has earned numerous awards and honors including 2003 U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) SportsWoman of the Year, 2001 Sullivan Award (top amateur athlete in the United States), 1998 Sportswoman of the Year by the Women’s Sports Foundation, 2002 and 2003 Kids’ Choice Award and 2002 Teen Choice Award as America’s favorite female athlete, and a 2002 CosmoGirl! of the Year, for her accomplishments and inspiration to others.
In 2000, Kwan was selected one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World.” In 2003 Kwan earned her seventh SKATING magazine Readers' Choice Award for Skater(s) of the Year, the only multiple winner of the prestigious award. In an unprecedented move, U.S. Figure Skating renamed the award in her honor; it is now called the Michelle Kwan Trophy.