Michelle Kwan sat at a table, her hands folded, her teeth biting into her cheek. Kwan's mother, Estella, had walked into the press conference room carrying some of the bouquets of flowers that had been tossed to Kwan after her Olympic long program Friday night.
Kwan had been trying so hard to be brave and cheerfully accepting of this new Olympic silver medal that hung from her neck, but when Kwan's eyes met Estella's eyes, tears fell onto Kwan's cheeks and it was hard not to cry with her.Just a few moments before Kwan, a sweet 17-year-old who had made herself the heavy Olympic favorite by performing magically and flawlessly for both her short and long programs at the U.S. Nationals in Philadelphia last month, had said that night had been "such a wonderful moment, a magical moment for me, and I can't say anything else but that it was a great moment."
Kwan had accepted graciously the pressure of being the heaviest favorite at the most closely watched Olympic event, and then Friday night she accepted just as graciously the bitter disappointment of losing.
"I knew when I heard Tara's marks that I wasn't going to win," Kwan said. "There was some disappointment and some tears. But I think I can walk away happy, really happy. You know, c'est la vie. You never know what you're gonna get. Everything I've done, all the time spent on the ice, it's all worth it even if I got the silver medal."
And then Kwan said that she will come back for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, that she will go back home to California and add more difficulty to her routines, to get those triple-triple combinations, to be better. To win gold.