The drama couldn't be any thicker, I mean it was palpable! Your chief competitor basically hands it to you the previous season. Tara Lipinski won Nationals. Tara Lipinski won the Champion Series Final (now Grand Prix Final). Tara Lipinksi won the World Championships.
Michelle Kwan did start her Olympic season with a win over Tara at Skate America. Michelle went on to win Skate Canada (Tara wasn't in that competition) but something wasn't right...she was experiencing pain and it showed with a less than stellar performance. Later diagnosed as a stress fracture of her rt toe...that's on her landing foot.
Tara would go on to win a second straight Champion Series Final while Michelle Kwan sat at home and watched.
Nationals rolled around in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Not only was this the competition that decided the best American Skater...it picked our U.S. Olympic Team. The tension was intense...Tara Lipinski actually missed a jump in the short program while Michelle Kwan had to increase the difficulty of her program to avoid pain (different takeoffs for Toes and Flips) and executed a successful short program.
Both Tara and Michelle executed brilliant free skates. Tara showed off her technical skills but hitting her trademark triple loop/triple loop but it was Michelle who seemed to be skating on a different plain. Despite the worrisome toe, she floated across the ice with brilliance and received one of the loudest ovations that I can remember at the end of her performance.
For me...this truly is the greatest National victory ever.