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Michelle Kwan reflects on Nagano, 20 years later

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NBCOlympics.com caught up with 1998 Olympic figure skating silver medalist Michelle Kwan to ask her to reflect on her memories from Nagano.

At NBCOlympics we’re big on anniversaries. Can you believe it’s gonna be 20 years?

Don’t say that!

I won’t say the number, but it’s a big anniversary.

It’s amazing. The Olympic Games is one of those moments that you remember forever. From the moment that you step foot in the country that you’re competing in to the Closing Ceremony. It’s the highlight. When I look back at my life, my career, I’m sure it’s gonna be one of those highlights that you never forget.

Do you have a favorite memory from being there?

Oh. The moment I stepped foot on the Olympic ice, and skating over the Olympic rings, I started to cry. I like, you know you dream of going to the Olympics, and then you finally make it happen, and then you skate over the rings, you’re like, “It’s happening.” But I actually skated to the boards, and my coach was like, he was basically like slapping, like “Wake up!” I still have a job to do.

NBCOlympics.com: Watch figure skating streams, highlights

How did you overcome that? How did you get rid of the tears and get ready to go?

You train your whole life for it and you have to realize you still have a job to do. I think it’s a quick reality. I’m glad I got it over with before I stepped on the ice when I was competing.

So since then, are you talking smack with Tara or anything?

Oh, no, I mean, the thing is, I think what the media likes to play up is this like rivalry between athletes. When in fact, you’re only competing against yourself and you’re trying to do your very best. In figure skating, you have four minutes to do your best. It’s your time, you do your best. You know? As opposed to – it’s not a tennis match. I’m not directly against a person. I’m there to do my best.

Did you get to do anything fun away from the competition while you were there?

I mean, because the ladies compete at the very end, it’s the last event. It’s tough to be like having fun and partying. When people talk about the Village, you do get a chance to meet interesting people from different countries, and build those friendships that last for a lifetime. I’ve been to the World Women’s Sports Foundation for years, and it’s like, this is friends that I’ll in touch with for the rest of my life.

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Will you do anything fun to celebrate the anniversary in February?

I haven’t thought about it but now you’ve, like, got me thinking. I’ve got to do something big.

When was the last time you watched it all the way through?  

I can’t actually tell you. I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s not like every day you like watch YouTube and you’re kind of like, “Oh. This is what I used to do!” You were there. So it’s like, you have those memories.

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Top curling video and social media moments

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For nearly three straight weeks, curling dominated the Olympic airwaves, and while the U.S., Sweden and Canada all came away with gold medals, there were still plenty of highlights away from the ice.

In the mixed doubles tournament, fans were introduced to Team USA’s #HamFam, Matt and Becca Hamilton, who became instant sensations. Matt was even confused for some other celebrities, as people tried to nail down exactly who he looked like.

And he got to “meet” his hero, Aaron Rodgers… of course only through Twitter (for now!)

 In the women’s tournament, fans were introduced to Japan’s “sunshine team,” who were all all smiles on the way to their bronze medal win.

Three Stars from men’s hockey at the Olympics

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NBC Olympics staff selected three special performers from the enitre men’s tournament at the Olympics.

FIRST STAR
Eeli Tolvanen, Finland: The 18-year-old winger was the undisputed breakout star of the men’s tournament. Even though Finland was eliminated in the quarterfinals, Tolvanen’s tally of nine points still ranked second overall as he averaged nearly two points per game. He scored in his Olympic debut and also tallied two assists against eventual silver medalist Germany. He followed that up with two scores against Norway. Tolvanen paced his team past an energized South Korean team in the qualification playoffs, assisting in Finland’s opening three goals. After a sizzling Olympic performance, Tolvanen could be on his way to the NHL to help the Nashville Predators chase the Stanley Cup once again.

NBCOlympics.com: OAR defeat Germany to win hockey gold 

SECOND STAR
Nikita Gusev, Olympic Athletes from Russia: The Vegas Golden Knights prospect tallied four goals and eight assists in just six games throughout the 2018 Winter Games. He also struck twice when it mattered most, helping OAR force OT in the gold-medal game. Trailing 3-2 in the final frame and playing shorthanded, Gusev was able to sneak a backhanded shot into the back of the net to knot the score with less than a minute remaining. Then, in the extra session, it was Gusev who made a beautiful cross-ice pass to set up the golden goal by Kirill Kaprizov.

NBCOlymipcs.com: Canada claim bronze with 6-4 over Czech Republic

THIRD STAR
Ryan Donato, United States: The 21-year-old Boston Bruins prospect was bright spot for Team USA despite the disappointing finish. The sniper lifted his team to a crucial preliminary-round victory over Slovakia, grabbing both goals in a 2-1 victory. He came back to haunt Slovakia again with two more scores in the qualification playoffs, and though the United States’ tournament came to an end in the quarterfinals against the Czech Republic, Donato notched one last goal in the 3-2 loss to finish with a team-leading five goals and six points. Donato, along with fellow collegiate athletes Troy Terry and Jordan Greenway, surprised many with their contributions on the ice. If management had known of their game-changing impact in advance, the American roster might have included more NCAA players.