Michelle Kwan

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 1
Bronze 1
Total 2
RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameMichelle Wingshan•Kwan (-Pell)
Used nameMichelle•Kwan
Born7 July 1980 in Torrance, California (USA)
Measurements157 cm / 49 kg
AffiliationsLAFSC, Los Angeles (USA)
NOC United States


Michelle Kwan was one of the best figure skaters of the post-school figure era, but one who was unable to win an elusive Olympic gold medal. She first competed at the World Championships in 1994, finishing eighth, after winning the World Juniors that year. Her first big season was 1996, when she won the United States’ and World Championships. She was favored at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, but skated poorly in the free skate and lost out to Tara Lipinski (USA), Kwan earning a silver medal. Michelle Kwan took the rare defeat with magnanimity, and came back later in the year to win the World Championships and Goodwill Games. She was also favored at Salt Lake City in 2002, but again had difficulties in the free skate and finished third, with her teammate, Sarah Hughes, winning the gold medal. Kwan was U.S. champion nine times (1996 and eight consecutive from 1998-2005) and World Champion five times (1996, 1998, 2000-01, and 2003). She was also a seven-time champion at Skate America (1996-98, 2000-03) and won Skate Canada three times (1996, 1998, 2000), and won Trophee Lalique in 1997. She skated in ice shows intermittently during her career but made most of her professional earnings from endorsements, of which she had many because of her popularity.

Kwan entered Tufts Fletcher School of Law and International Diplomacy in 2009, earning a graduate degree in international relations in 2011. In 2006 she had been made a US public diplomacy ambassador by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. In 2011 she was named an adviser to the US-China Women’s Leadership Exchange and Dialogue (Women-LEAD), while in 2012 she was a US State Department’s senior adviser for public diplomacy and public affairs. In early 2013 Michelle Kwan married Claiborne Pell IV, from a long-time Rhode Island political family, who was at the time a Coast Guard lieutenant. He was appointed US Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of International and Foreign Language Education within the United States Department of Education, and was considering a run for Rhode Island governor.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1998 Winter Olympics Figure Skating (Skating) USA Michelle Kwan
Singles, Women (Olympic) 2 Silver
2002 Winter Olympics Figure Skating (Skating) USA Michelle Kwan
Singles, Women (Olympic) 3 Bronze

Olympic family relations

Special Notes