Kristi Yamaguchi at the 2010 Winter Olympics
|Country represented||United States|
July 12, 1971|
Hayward, California, U.S.
|Height||4 ft 11.5 in (151 cm)|
|Former partner||Rudi Galindo|
|Former coach||Christy Ness|
|Former choreographer||Sandra Bezic|
|Skating club||St. Moritz ISC|
Kristine Tsuya Yamaguchi (born July 12, 1971) is an American former figure skater. In ladies' singles, Yamaguchi is the 1992 Olympic champion, a two-time World champion (1991 and 1992), and the 1992 U.S. champion. As a pairs skater with Rudy Galindo, she is the 1988 World Junior champion and a two-time national champion (1989 and 1990). In December 2005, she was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. In 2008, Yamaguchi became the celebrity champion in the sixth season of Dancing with the Stars.
Kristi Yamaguchi was born on July 12, 1971 in Hayward, California, to Jim Yamaguchi, a dentist, and Carole (née Doi), a medical secretary. Yamaguchi is Sansei (a third-generation descendant of Japanese emigrants). Her paternal grandparents and maternal great-grandparents emigrated to the United States from Japan, originating from Wakayama Prefecture and Saga Prefecture. Yamaguchi's grandparents were sent to an internment camp during World War II, where her mother was born. Her paternal grandfather was in the U.S. Army and fought in Germany and France during World War II. Research done in 2010 by Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for the PBS series Faces of America showed that Yamaguchi's heritage can be traced back to Wakayama and Saga prefectures in Japan and that her paternal grandfather, Tatsuichi Yamaguchi, emigrated to Hawaii in 1899.
Yamaguchi and her siblings, Brett and Lori, grew up in Fremont, California. In order to accommodate her training schedule, Yamaguchi was home-schooled for her first two years of high school, but attended Mission San Jose High School for her junior and senior years, where she graduated.
With Rudy Galindo she won the junior title at the U.S. championships in 1986. Two years later, Yamaguchi won the singles and, with Galindo, the pairs titles at the 1988 World Junior Championships; Galindo had won the 1987 World Junior Championship in singles. In 1989 Yamaguchi and Galindo won the senior pairs title at the U.S. Championships. They won the title again in 1990.
As a pairs team, Yamaguchi and Galindo were unusual in that they were both accomplished singles skaters, which allowed them to consistently perform difficult elements like side by side Triple Flip jumps, which are still more difficult than side by side jumps performed by current top international pairs teams. They also jumped and spun in opposite directions, Yamaguchi counter-clockwise, and Galindo clockwise, which gave them an unusual look on the ice. In 1990, Yamaguchi decided to focus solely on singles. Galindo went on to have a successful singles career as well, winning the 1996 U.S. championships and the 1996 World bronze medal.
In 1991, Yamaguchi moved to Edmonton, Alberta, to train with coach Christy Ness. There, she took psychology courses at the University of Alberta. The same year Yamaguchi placed second to Tonya Harding at the U.S. championships, her third consecutive silver medal at Nationals. The following month in Munich, Germany, Yamaguchi won the 1991 World Championships. That year, the American ladies team, consisting of Yamaguchi, Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, became the only national ladies team to have its members sweep the Worlds podium. In 1992, Yamaguchi won her first U.S. title and gained a spot to the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. Joining her on the U.S. team were again Kerrigan and Harding. While competitors Harding and Japan’s Midori Ito were consistently landing the difficult triple axel jump in competition, Yamaguchi instead focused on her artistry and her triple-triple combinations in hopes of becoming a more well-rounded skater. Both Harding and Ito fell on their triple axels at the Olympics (though Ito successfully landed the jump later on in her long program after missing the first time), allowing Yamaguchi to win the gold, despite errors in her free program, including putting a hand to the ice on a triple loop and a double salchow instead of a planned triple. Yamaguchi went on to successfully defend her World title that same year.
In 1996, Yamaguchi established the Always Dream Foundation for children. The goal of the foundation is to provide funding for after school programs, computers, back-to-school clothes for underprivileged children, and summer camps for kids with disabilities. Commenting in 2009, she explained her inspiration for the project: "I was inspired by the Make-A-Wish foundation to make a positive difference in children’s lives. We’ve been helping out various children’s organizations, which is rewarding. Our latest project is a playground designed so that kids of all abilities can play side by side. That’s our focus now."
Currently her Always Dream Foundation is focused on early childhood literacy with a statement of "Empowering Children to reach their dreams through education and inspiration." ADF has partnered with "Raising a Reader" to launch a reading program in schools throughout California and eventually nationwide. The foundation is also providing a language arts program "Footsteps to Brilliance" to kindergarten and first grade. Both programs integrate innovative technology into the classrooms.
Yamaguchi is the author of Always Dream, Pure Gold, and Figure Skating for Dummies. In 2011, she published an award-winning children's book, Dream Big, Little Pig, which was #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, and received the Gelett Burgess Children's Book Award; a portion of the proceeds went to the Always Dream Foundation to support early childhood literacy programs. A sequel, It's a Big World Little Pig, was scheduled to be published March 6, 2012.
Yamaguchi made a fitness video with the California Raisins in 1993 called "Hip to be Fit: The California Raisins and Kristi Yamaguchi". She has appeared as herself on Everybody Loves Raymond and in D2: The Mighty Ducks, Frosted Pink, and the Disney Channel original movie Go Figure. Yamaguchi has also performed in numerous television skating specials, including the Disney special Aladdin on Ice, in which she played Princess Jasmine.
In 2006 Yamaguchi was the host of WE tv series Skating's Next Star, created and produced by Major League Figure Skating. Yamaguchi was a local commentator on figure skating for San Jose TV station KNTV (NBC 11) during the 2006 Winter Olympics.
On May 20, 2008, Kristi Yamaguchi became the champion of the sixth season of ABC's reality program Dancing with the Stars, in which she was paired with Mark Ballas, defeating finalist couple Jason Taylor and Edyta Śliwińska. Yamaguchi made a special appearance in the finale of the sixteenth season where she danced alongside Dorothy Hamill.
Kristi Yamaguchi received the Inspiration Award at the 2008 Asian Excellence Awards. Two days after her Dancing with the Stars champion crowning, she received the 2008 Sonja Henie Award from the Professional Skaters Association. Among her other awards are the Thurman Munson Award, Women's Sports Foundation Flo Hyman Award, and the Great Sports Legends Award. She is also a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee Olympic Hall of Fame, World Skating Hall of Fame, and the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
In 2010 Yamaguchi worked as a daily NBC Olympics skating broadcast analyst on NBC's Universal Sports Network. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, Kristi was also a special correspondent for the Today Show.
In early 2012, Yamaguchi created a woman's active wear line focused on function, comfort, and style to empower women to look good and feel good. The lifestyle brand is called Tsu.ya by Kristi Yamaguchi. Tsu.ya donates a portion of its proceeds to support early childhood literacy through Yamaguchi's Always Dream Foundation.
On July 8, 2000, she married Bret Hedican, a professional hockey player she met at the 1992 Winter Olympics when he played for Team USA. Yamaguchi and Hedican reside in Alamo, California with their two daughters, Keara Kiyomi (born 2003) and Emma Yoshiko (born 2005). In 2011, she authored a children's book with illustrator Tim Bowers.
|International de Paris||2nd|
|World Junior Champ.||1st|
|U.S. Championships||2nd J.||10th||2nd||2nd||2nd||1st|
|The Gold Championships||1st||1st||1st|
|World Professional Figure Skating Championships||1st||2nd||1st||2nd||1st||1st||2nd|
(with Rudy Galindo)
|Skate Electric Challenge||1st|
|World Junior Champ.||5th||3rd||1st|
|U.S. Champ.||5th J.||1st J.||5th||5th||1st||1st|
|J. = Junior level|
|1994||You Must Remember This||Herself / Madame X|
|1995||Aladdin on Ice||Jasmine|
|1998||The Great Skate Debate II||Skater|
|1994||D2: The Mighty Ducks||Herself (Cameo)|
|1997||Everybody Loves Raymond||Herself (Cameo)||Episode: (Episode 19, The Dog)|
|2001||On Edge||Regionals Judge #4|
|2003||Freedom: A History of Us||Haruko Obata||Episode: "Depression and War"|
|2005||Go Figure||Herself (Cameo)|
|2012||Pandora Unforgettable Holiday Moments on Ice||Herself - Host|
|2013||Hell's Kitchen||Herself (Dining room guest)||Episode: "17 Chefs Compete"|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kristi Yamaguchi.|
|Awards and achievements|
Hélio Castroneves & Julianne Hough
| Dancing with the Stars (US) winners
(Spring 2008 with Mark Ballas)
Brooke Burke and Derek Hough