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Kwan Making Another Olympic Bid

Michelle Kwan came to New York undecided about whether she wanted to try and make her third Olympic team.

After spending one night with 14 other Olympians, sharing stories, dreams and memories, she quickly made up her mind. Kwan said Thursday she wants to compete at the 2006 Games in Turin.

The five-time world champion and nine-time U-S national champion in figure skating has never won an Olympic gold medal, though she got bronze in Salt Lake City and silver in 1998 in Nagano.

"I said after the 2002 Olympics I was going to play it by ear, go with the flow, and it worked for me," said Kwan, in town for the Visa Gold Medal Athlete Summit. "After spending some time with these athletes and coming here to New York, I said, 'This will be a great experience, try it one more time.'"

Kwan, who turns 25 in July, certainly is no stranger to the Olympics. Though she may be considered ancient in her sport, she wants to experience the camaraderie of the international event just one more time.

"I don't think I'm too old to try for another. Coming here, seeing the Olympic rings ... I got chills when the other athletes were talking about their experiences, their triumphs and their struggles."

World Cup overall champion Bode Miller, on the other hand, is still unsure about whether he wants to go to the Olympics. Miller said Thursday he will compete on the World Cup circuit next season, but hasn't made up his mind yet about Turin.

Miller, who became the first American man since 1983 to win the overall World Cup championship, is wrestling with what success in the Olympics would mean for his lifestyle. In Europe, where skiing is popular, Miller is treated like a celebrity.

In the United States, he can walk around unrecognized. That is how Miller always wants it to be.

"It's an ongoing argument in my own mind about why to do it and why not to do it," Miller said. "There's a lot of great things about it. The goal of the Olympics is something that develops incredibly positive lifestyle changes, develops great personality traits. But to actually go to the Olympics doesn't enhance those in any way. It makes things worse."

Miller won two silver medals at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002. Kwan took bronze in Salt Lake City, and silver in 1998 in Nagano. Though the five-time world champion is the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history, with nine national championships, Kwan has never won Olympic gold.

Those questions constantly follow her, though Kwan said her Olympic performances don't define who she is.

"In life, you go through struggles," she said. "Olympics, they don't define me. Medals don't define me. It doesn't matter. I've had some good moments, some bad moments. But it's all about the Olympic spirit and the sport itself."

Kwan is coming off one of her most disappointing performances, finishing fourth at the world championships in Moscow in March. Her first competition under figure skating's new scoring system threw her off, but now Kwan knows what she must do to adjust and get better results.

"I'm always up for a challenge," she said. "I've been brought up on a system with 6.0. This will challenge me. I have to work on certain things, certain movements that have never been in my program. It does test me in a way, how well do you know the sport, how much can you do?"

She is undecided about whether she will compete at any Grand Prix events this year. The U.S. championships are in January, where it is a near virtual lock that Kwan will qualify for the Olympics. The top three women will make the Olympic team, and Kwan has been first or second every year since 1994.

Kwan is eager to show she is better than the fourth-place finish she posted at worlds. Whether she finally gets the gold that has eluded her remains to be seen.

"I feel I need to benefit from my experiences," Kwan said. "I'm not 15, 16 years old anymore. My body's a little more sensitive, and I think I have to use my knowledge to listen to myself and push myself in a way that I can end up ahead."

By Andrea Adelson