Michelle Kwan cuts short first practice in Turin: is she fluster?

Michelle Kwan cut short her first Olympic practice session Saturday morning after struggling with several jumps and not doing her short program run-through. The five-time world champion quit the 40-minute session with about 15 minutes remaining and smiled at assistant team leader Taffy Holiday when she left the ice. When she skated, though, she looked serious, even dour, and her missing three triple flips couldn't have helped her mood.

When she stood by the sideboards and chatted with team leader Roger Glenn, several times he could be seen holding her hand or arm as if comforting the nine-time U.S. champion. Kwan, 25, was given a medical bye onto the U.S. team after a groin injury sidelined her for the national championships a month ago. On Jan. 27, she passed a monitoring session conducted by U.S. Figure Skating, and this was her first public practice.

It was not pretty. Her first jump, a smooth triple toe loop, came 13 minutes into the workout. She then landed on two feet on her first triple flip, then fell hard on her next attempt at the jump. Kwan also cut another try into a double flip.

Most of the practice was spent on footwork and spins. At one point, Kwan did her footwork from her free skate and it appeared Glenn and U.S. judge Charlie Cyr were checking the levels of difficulty. Kwan left the ice without her short program music being played. Her agent, Shep Goldberg, said he believed the music never arrived at the practice rink, but Kwan's early departure was unexpected and unlike her.

A silver medalist in 2002 and a bronze winner in 1998, Kwan is the rare skater who has stuck around for three Olympics. She hopes to make this the crowning achievement of her record-setting career, but Saturday's first practice could not be encouraging, reports the AP.


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