BOSTON -- Skating in a live TV, fan-judged event she likened to American Idol, Michelle Kwan predictably was the people's choice Sunday, despite some missteps in her first performance of the season.
But uncertainty lingers about whether she can overcome a hip injury to make the Olympics.
"It was a little hard for me. You know, my hip is not that great," said the five-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist. "I just wanted to get the chance to skate in front of an audience."
Kwan had been out since October with a strained right hip ligament. Against co-finalist Sasha Cohen, she stumbled on an attempted triple toe loop.
The U.S. nationals/Olympic trials are Jan.8-15 in St. Louis. Kwan, who resumed jumping in the past two weeks, says she'll "push and see what the limitations are, and I do have to make a decision on my body. When it says no, you've got to stop."
Sunday, there were no judges, in the usual sense. ABC viewers cast votes by phone, Internet and text messages. Of 4,150 spectators at the Marshalls U.S. Figure Skating Challenge, about 2,000 did push-pad voting.
In her finals matchup with Cohen, Kwan got 59% of the votes to Cohen's 41%.
Kwan got 47% in an earlier round that eliminated Emily Hughes and Alissa Czisny.
Cohen, who hit all her jumps, was the choice of ABC experts Dick Button, Peggy Fleming and Peter Carruthers, who all welcomed Kwan back. "You have the most open heart. ... I fall right into it," Button said.
Johnny Weir won the men's final with 64% of the votes to Michael Weiss' 36%. Weir said fan voting was "nice" instead of "all those furry, old women (judges) sitting there with grimaces on their faces."
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