The two-time Olympic medalist and five-time world champion’s fans have stayed intensely interested for more than 20 years. From Michelle Kwan’s college and graduate school days to working for the State Department and celebrating milestones like motherhood.
One of Kwan’s fans, Amanda Lew Herman, texted her mother and cousin right away to express her joy after Michelle Kwan surprisingly announced she’d given birth to a baby girl after keeping her pregnancy a secret.
When Herman was a girl and young adult, she wore a necklace identical to Kwan’s gold dragon pendant when Kwan was competing. “I was so proud she was wearing something so proudly Chinese,” said Herman. “We were proud of her then, and we’re still proud of her representing us as a people. We all still hold this flame after 20 years; we still stan her so hard.” she adds.
Stephanie Johnson, a former professional figure skater and skating instructor, said that cheering for the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history had developed a strong bond between her and her Taiwanese immigrant mother, who died in 2010. “I get emotional thinking about it because it was such a great experience, and watching her really made me love the sport.” Johnson said.
Rachael Joo, a Middlebury College associate professor of American studies who teaches courses on race and sports, said “For many Asian American women who have felt invisible, she was so visible, and visible because she was amazing at what she did”
Whether they’re reminiscing about one of Kwan’s skates or discussing her amazing résumé, Asian Americans continue to use social media to talk about her.
New York Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou recently tweeted in answer to a question regarding media representation: “Give me one Asian American in their 30’s who didn’t experience a huge shift between life before and then life after Michelle Kwan.”
Fans of Kwan say she continues to inspire them as a role model and that she has taught them valuable lessons about grace and resilience.