- Category : Skater
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Split - Small (43)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Cycles 1
Kristine Tsuya "Kristi" Yamaguchi (born July 12, 1971) is an American figure skater. She is the 1992 Olympic Champion in ladies' singles. Yamaguchi also won two World Figure Skating Championships in 1991 and 1992 and a U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 1992. She won one junior world title in 1988 and two national titles in 1989 and 1990 as a pairs skater with Rudy Galindo. In December 2005, she was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. Yamaguchi was a local commentator on figure skating for San Francisco TV station KNTV (NBC 11) during the 2006 Winter Olympics. In 2008, Yamaguchi became the celebrity champion in the sixth season of Dancing with the Stars.
Kristi Yamaguchi was born in Hayward, California, to Jim Yamaguchi, a dentist, and Carole (née Doi), a medical secretary. Yamaguchi is Yonsei (fourth-generation Nikkei). Her paternal grandparents and maternal great-grandparents immigrated 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 US army and fought in Germany and France during WWII.
Kristi and her siblings, Brett and Lori, grew up in Fremont, California. Yamaguchi attended Mission San Jose High School her junior and senior year where she graduated. While at Mission, Kristi's excellence in skating prompted a "Kristi Yamaguchi Day" on February 24, 1989. Mission held an assembly honoring her, where she was presented with an honorary varsity jacket.
Yamaguchi began skating and taking ballet lessons, as a child, as physical therapy for her club feet.
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 place first, second and third at Worlds. 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 it 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.
Professional and personal life
Kristi Yamaguchi turned professional after the 1992 competitive season. She toured for many years with Stars on Ice and also participated in the pro competition circuit.
Since July 8, 2000, she has been married to Bret Hedican, a retired professional hockey player she met at the 1992 Winter Olympics when he played for Team USA. Yamaguchi and Hedican reside in Northern California with their two daughters, Keara Kiyomi (born 2003) and Emma Yoshiko (born 2005). Hedican is a TV sports analyst who covers the San Jose Sharks ice hockey team.
In 1996, Kristi 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 a children's book, Dream Big, Little Pig, which was #2 on the New York Times bestseller list; 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, is 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.
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.
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, immigrated to Hawaii in 1899.
Early 2012, Kristi created a woman's active wear line focused on function, comfort, and style to empower women to look good and feel good. The exciting lifestyle brand is called "Tsu.ya by Kristi Yamaguchi," Tsu.ya is dedicated to giving back a portion of its proceeds to support early childhood literacy through Kristi's Always Dream Foundation.
Dancing With the Stars
On May 20, 2008, Kristi Yamaguchi became the celebrity champion on ABC's reality program Dancing with the Stars 6th season paired with Mark Ballas, defeating finalist couple Jason Taylor and Edyta ?liwi?ska.