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Kwan Update in LA Times - "OK, I went to the Olympics"

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by barbk, Sep 8, 2010.

  1. mrinalini

    mrinalini Well-Known Member

    Same here. I find that I often get tongue-tied when I'm speaking to strangers, especially if I'm talking fast. My words often trip over themselves, and then later on I think, darn it, only if they knew how I could really talk! :lol:

    I never had that problem with term papers, though. ;)
  2. museksk8r

    museksk8r Holding an edge and looking dangerously sexy

    Very true! :)
  3. orientalplane

    orientalplane Mad for mangelwurzels

    Do you know the names of many Olympic medallists in sports you don't follow? I'm sure most people don't, and not knowing them is hardly indicative of being uncultured.

    Ice skating isn't a huge sport here in the UK. People here who aren't skating fans usually know only of Curry, Cousins, Torvill and Dean, and as allezfred rightly mentioned, Katarina Witt.
  4. museksk8r

    museksk8r Holding an edge and looking dangerously sexy

    Good point! :coffee:
  5. iarispiralllyof

    iarispiralllyof Active Member

    katarina witt is not more known than michelle in the US. unless you were talking about europe which I have no clue about.

    the fact that many might not know her is due to the fact that, as already noted, skating is so dead in the US and besides her "time" was over ages ago.

    polls have consistently shown that michelle is america's favorite female skater and even in 2009 she still made the list of top 10 favorite female athletes despite not competing since 2005...but then again how many female athletes can the general american public name outside a handful

    if a random american who doesn't follow the sport can't even recall who michelle kwan is I doubt they'd even be able to list most of the names on your list except maybe tonya and nancy for the whack. michelle was very much a part of that skating boom in the US you're talking about, if not the ultimate queen of that era. and I'm talking about publicity and media not just medals.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2010
  6. Lucy25

    Lucy25 Well-Known Member

    Well, anyone who reads this board knows how often the name "Michelle Kwan" must come up in your conversations:lol:.

    It's funny because one of my freshmen boys mentioned her name in a class discussion a couple of days ago and most of the other students knew that she was an "Olympic skater who won a medal".
  7. UGG

    UGG Well-Known Member

    I would also agree that more people in the US would name Katarina , Tonya, and Nancy as figure skaters they have heard of before they named Michelle. I would also add Brian Boitano to that list. Anyone who was relevent in pop culture. (Playboy, the "wack", What Would Brian Boytano Do, etc...)

    I would have to think though, that her name would at least sound familiar even if they do not know who she is?

    Anyways-That is a great article! I am very proud to be a fan.
  8. skatingfan5

    skatingfan5 Past Prancer's Corridor

    Sad to say, among the general public, Tonya Harding is a more recognizable name than Michelle Kwan. And while to someone who follows figure skating, especially someone in the U.S., it may seem surprising that Michelle's classmates might not know who she was, I don't think it is that unexpected when you consider the demographics of the Fletcher School at Tufts. They have students from many countries, including those where figure skating is likely not very well covered -- if at all (Uganda, Palestine, Morocco, Costa Rica). In the 2008-09 student body, more than 40% were non-US citizens, with 57 nationalities represented among the 250 students.
  9. iarispiralllyof

    iarispiralllyof Active Member

    Michelle Kwan and Serena Williams were the only female athletes to ever appear on the yearly overall most popular athletes list (male and female) back in 2002. No other females have cracked the overall list before or since. The year Katarina did Playboy, she didn't even appear on the top 10 list for just female athletes, Michelle did. I'm sorry but anyone who thinks Katarina, a German, is more popular in the US than Michelle, an American who was the main story in the US for 3 Winter Olympic cycles is dreaming

    LOL you're referencing South Park? Most South Park fans had to google Brian Boitano to even understand the root of that gag, as you'll find when you see many of the comments on his videos. I'm not sure that being known as part of a gag and having people shocked to find out you're a real person counts for much. Nor is South Park even that influential/popular. What's more is male skaters receive not even a fraction of the attention, endorsements that female skaters do nor are they as embraced by the public.

    I don't want to sound like a broken record, but contrary to what people think about Americans only tuning in to watch skating during the Olympics - during the 90's even the National championships had great ratings, in particular the legendary 1998 nationals between Michelle and Tara which drew over 13 million viewers in the US. Every athlete is going to have their time to shine and then they're going to decline in notoriety, especially in such a niche sport that most Americans don't actually partake in, unlike basketball or football.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2010
  10. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    I don't think most americans would know who Michelle Kwan is, but I think she is more known than Katerina Witt. I think Sasha Cohen is probably more known than Witt. I don't really consider Playboy "pop culture" -as most people don't follow it- and I don't know anything Witt has done outside of skating that would make Americans still remember her.

    I think for the general public, Tonya Harding and probably Nancy Kerrigan would be the top names, followed by Brian Boitano, in the younger generations only due to South Park. (I've seen comments on youtube videos that were "dude - that's a real guy? I thought the song made him up!)

    Maybe I have a bit of an age bias though as the first Olympics I REALLY remember were 1992, so the skaters before then I only know as pros.
  11. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

    Maybe I shouldn't be too surprised... I was playing "Family Feud" online recently :eek: and the question "name a famous figure skater" came up. I thought I had hit pay dirt and excitedly typed in Michelle Kwan... and got a big red X. There were like 6-7 possible answers up there but no Michelle! :( I then reverted to OGMs and was more successful. Dorothy, Peggy and Scott made the list, but no Brian Boitano. Nancy Kerrigan made the list, although no Tonya. Tara Lipinski made the list but no Michelle, Sarah or Sasha. Go figure!
  12. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

    Good point.

    And the article is a little vague, but I don't think it implied that no one at Fletcher knew who she was. Just how she would bring it up to those who didn't (minority? majority? we don't know).

  13. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado

    I live in San Francisco with a strong Asian community, specifically Cantonese. And yet the name recognition isn't there. Le shrug.
  14. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

    That's funny because I live in New Orleans and I don't really have any connection to the Chinese community (much less Cantonese) and yet when I mention that figure skating is my favorite sport, the first name that comes up in most people's heads are Kristi Yamaguchi, Oksana Baiul, Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan (this is a two-fer), and Michelle Kwan.
  15. bardtoob

    bardtoob Former Choreographer for Anna Maria Tragikova


    Maybe not many people you associate with. I think Witt is the most well known figure skater among men age 40-80.
  16. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado

    That's probably because of the every-four-year fans who just watch the Olympics. And Harding/Kerrigan always has excellent name recognition.
  17. iarispiralllyof

    iarispiralllyof Active Member

    I think it's just based on our personal experiences and the people we come into contact with. I'm not Chinese at all, but I am an Asian-American living in CA, and didn't start heavily following figure skating until the last year, yet most of the Asian-American peers I grew up with not only knew but supported Michelle.

    I've seen quite a few threads on Michelle in a LOT of Asian-American forums, even Asian pop music forums. Most of the people commenting are girls who don't follow skating religiously but to them skating is synonymous with Michelle.

    here's a random thread for example on a huge korean pop music forum (of all places) frequented by mostly Asian-Americans, that should give you an idea


    Not only does Michelle win the poll against Wie but every other comment is about how she's a "legend". this is hardly mkf or some skating forum, obviously.

    It's probably a generational thing. Certain skaters are more familiar to a certain generation. I just know that I didn't start following skating hardcore until last year but would watch it casually (for Michelle) as a kid in the 90's and during that time for obvious reasons I would be very removed from the skaters from the 80's...
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2010
  18. UGG

    UGG Well-Known Member

    But that is my point.We are talking about the general public being able to name a figure skater. South Park was SUPER popular in the late 90's and everyone saw that episode with Brian Boitano and most people probably were not figure skating fans. After watching that video, they now know of a figure skater. They probably have no idea who he was or what he did. But they now can name a figure skater due to watching that show and many many people watched the show back then. Get it? Look how famous people get from being stupid on youtube. Brian Boitano's name was part of a stupid song on a very popular TV show that many people watched.

    And I am pretty sure that more Americans would name Katerina over Michelle. I was very little during the 1988 Olympics (I was 10) but she was EVERYWHERE and on EVERYONE'S topic of conversation. Eveyone. My Dad still talks about her LOL.

    Its not an insult to Michelle. You seem to be offended by all of this LOL. I am a total uber ask anyone. ( or maybe i am apparently not LOL)
  19. iarispiralllyof

    iarispiralllyof Active Member

    I'm not offended, I'm just an uber. :p Sorry if I'm annoying people lol...I tend to be very aggressive when I post in "defense" of Michelle :p We just have very different perspectives. To me, I just find the notion that Katarina is more popular in the US to be unbelievable because I grew up in a period long after her time. I didn't even know about Katarina until after I'd duelved further into skating due to my interest in Michelle.

    I mean think about it this way, in the late 80's early 90's from what I hear Debbie Gibson and New Kids on the Block were HUGE HUGE HUGE. Yet I can tell you I had no clue of who they were until my teens when my dad brought home a box of used books from a garage sale and among them were beyond cheezy little "bio" books on their careers. Yet up until then I was hardly some hermit who never followed pop culture, on the contrary I was the type of kid who memorized music charts, box office results, and followed all of those stupid award shows. I guess what I'm trying to say is that "celebrity" can be very fleeting and everyone grows up in their own little bubble with a different recollection of the world based on their personal experiences

    btw Id agree that South park is a huge part of pop culture, influential, etc. but it was never that mainstream. It was a cable show and never reached anywhere near as wide of an audience as shows like Friends, ER, etc. did. and didn't both the Nagano and Salt Lake City Olympics have way higher ratings than the 84 or 88 Olympics? How could a German receive more exposure than an American sweetheart? Kim Yu-na is probably way bigger in South Korea than Katarina was in Germany yet following Yu-na's Olympic win American/canadian sponsors hardly jumped on her..people love to root for the home team. I mean we've discussed this before endlessly, how skating died in the US in part because of a lack of a home-hero to root for
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2010
  20. OliviaPug

    OliviaPug Well-Known Member

    Most people know who Kim Kardashian is. That should tell you something about most people and what the media considers important.

    flutzilla1 and (deleted member) like this.
  21. UGG

    UGG Well-Known Member

    I understand what you are saying. But when a general question is asked such as "What skater can the general public name"...you have to consider ALL age groups, not just your own. :)

    Maybe South Park was not that popular-...I was a sophomore in college though and i can tell you every college student everywhere was watching it and singing that damn song LOL. It seemed very popular to me but maybe it was just my age group so I will take my own advice here. :p

    Oh and I had Debbie Gibson and NKOTB all over my wall haha. They were IT.
  22. attyfan

    attyfan Well-Known Member

    IMO, Kwan's fame is much more unexpected than the fame of any OGM -- because, in the US, fame (along with endorsement deals, headliner status on skating shows, etc.) is something that goes to the OGM. I think this is one reason why Michelle is often referred to as having an OGM ... no American can think of any skater as comparatively famous as Michelle not having an OGM.
  23. iarispiralllyof

    iarispiralllyof Active Member

    LOL you're right. You pwned me there :p

    I need to calm down *takes a deep breath, leaves the topic* :saint:
  24. UGG

    UGG Well-Known Member

    Pose for Playboy. Sad but true. As someone else mentioned, everyone knows Kim Kardashian. I bet more people know who she is vs our vice president.

    Not that I am comparing Katarina to Kim but being hot and sexy gets you far here. Look at Anna Kornakova. If she were ugly we would have never heard of her. Everyone in the USA knows who she is. I think it was generally the same with Katerina back in the 80's.
  25. Coco

    Coco Well-Known Member

    I think a big part of Katarina being so well known stems from WHEN she was famous. In the 80s, there weren't that many TV chanels, there were not that many prominent female athletes, only a few in any given year, and the fascination with what goes on behind the iron curtain was VERY big.
  26. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

    I wonder how many of those thousands of love-letters she received after Sarajevo came from men who fashioned themselves as James Bond.
  27. orientalplane

    orientalplane Mad for mangelwurzels

    I don't. I've never heard of her.
  28. loopey

    loopey Well-Known Member

    This is certainly a sad truth. (US media that is)
  29. Bostonfan

    Bostonfan Well-Known Member

    She could have just been being humble. After all, I'm sure some classmates recognized her name.

    But in truth there are many more popular sports than figure skating where I would be hard pressed to name multi-championship athletes. Golf - on the spot I'd mention Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and Arnold Palmer. That's it. I think two of those guys are retired. I couldn't name another current golf champ to save my life.

    Internationally, soccer is an obsession. Outside of David Beckham, I'm clueless.
  30. tangerine_dream

    tangerine_dream New Member

    Why would you be shocked people don't know Michelle Kwan? You are a fan of skating, so of course you know. :) I personally don't know the name of any athlete from any sports that don't interest me. A few names might be more known to the masses such as Kobe Bryant and Andy Roddick, but that's only because their sports are way more popular and get broadcast in bars all across the world. Figure skating is a tiny sport relatively few people even know exists.