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A final salute to Michelle Kwan

Figure skater Michelle Kwan withdrew from the 2006 Winter Olympics on Sunday, ending a pursuit for gold that has spanned a decade. She is said to be still suffering from a groin injury, which kept her from competing in the U.S. Nationals in January. Emily Hughes is to replace her on the U.S. Olympic team.

Many sports commentators have been quick to point out that though Kwan has had the most impressive career of any modern figure skater, there will always be that bullet point missing from her resume. Despite having earned more than 43 titles, including nine national titles and five world championships, there will always be questions about that final elusive gold.

That seems distinctly unfair, doesn't it? One's legacy should not be measured by the failure to achieve the highest honors in one single event. I know most of my classmates don't lose any sleep over getting a 98 out of 100 even after studying for three hours' straight.

Jim Kelly is considered one of the most memorable football players, despite the fact that he never won a Super Bowl.

A gold medal is only one measurement of an athlete's skill.

Though I have never set foot on the ice, I have always been a big fan of Michelle Kwan. I have always admired the artistry of the sport and the genuine sportsmanship among the athletes. In some ways, I have come to admire Michelle Kwan because of her pursuit of Olympic gold. Through her I came to learn about loving what you do and never giving up.

This most certainly isn't the end of Michelle Kwan. Turning pro is going to give her more artistic freedom. And it will give people a chance to see her as part of one of the skating tours, as most skaters have done during their pro career. She may not be an aspiring Olympic figure skater, but she will still be someone to root for.

Michelle Kwan once said, "I want people to remember me after 1,000 years when skating is weird and people are doing quintuple jumps."

There is no doubt that she is on her way.

Kristine Starkey is a junior at St. Mary's High School.

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