Photo by the Associated Press
Michelle Kwan is going back to the Olympics - as a television analyst.
Kwan has been hired by Fox Sports to cover the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The nine-time U.S. and five-time world champion figure skater will cover a variety of sports for Fox, which is launching its cable sports channel, Fox Sports 1, this month.
Kwan, a two-time Olympic medalist (silver in 1998, bronze in 2002) says she has been encouraged by the network to report on sports outside the Olympics, as well, and is hoping to be involved in Fox's Super Bowl coverage just before the Sochi Games.
"When they asked, they were really encouraging to me to try it out," said Kwan, who works for the State Department as a senior adviser for public diplomacy and public affairs." They said, 'We are going to be innovative and fun and open to different angles,' which really attracted me. Reporting and story-telling is what they want, so for me it will interesting to kind of let the public know about the stories of athletes, or their perspectives on the Olympics."
Fox, which is not an Olympics rights-holder - NBC carries the games in the United States - also has hired Olympic skiing champion Picabo Street as another analyst.
Kwan is hopeful of pairing up with Street on some assignments in Sochi for the Fox's TV networks, website and radio affiliates.
"There are so many sports to choose from," Kwan said, "and I hope I will do some curling and some hockey. Maybe ask skeleton athletes, 'How do you do that?' What they do is pretty scary.
"I won't be covering it like NBC would, but more doing insider stories. I also like the idea they are launching FS1 this month, and I will be able to be a part of it and see it take shape and form. And also, if I have some sort of ideas how I want to report the Olympics, I will have that freedom to do it."
Kwan's last Olympic appearance was a brief one, tearfully leaving the 2006 Turin Games before they began because of injury. She since has graduated from the University of Denver with a degree in international studies, and earned her master's degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in 2011.
In 2010, she was a correspondent for ABC at the Vancouver Games.
"There is no bigger name in the sport of figure skating than Michelle Kwan, and we are delighted to welcome her to Fox Sports," said Rick Jaffe, Fox Sports senior vice president of news.
"Not only is she the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history, but she is also opinionated and insightful, and we're very lucky to have her as part of our Olympic team."
And its Super Bowl team?
"They are encouraging me to find unique angles in all sports, so sure," Kwan said with a laugh.
As for Sochi, she already plans to sit down with 2010 men's figure skating gold medalist Evan Lysacek as he attempts a comeback after missing the past three seasons, in part because of injuries. Interviews with world champion ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White also are in the works.
Kwan recognizes that as a former world-class athlete, she can provide a different viewpoint for fans. She was asked countless times while competing how she could spin so fast on the ice while not getting dizzy, and believes she can explain nuances of figure skating, in particular, to enlighten the audience.
"I can talk about personal experiences, how it feels to be on the ice in the six-minute warm-up, or the last few seconds you get to talk to your coach, or that split second before the music starts," she said. "I know as a kid, I was watching Brian Boitano and Brian Orser at the (1988 Calgary) Olympics, and that was what I wanted to hear, too. Get inside the head of an athlete."