Kristi Yamaguchi

Last updated

Kristi Yamaguchi
Kristi Yamaguchi 1996.jpg
Kristi Yamaguchi in 1996
Personal information
Full nameKristine Tsuya Yamaguchi [1]
Country representedFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Born (1971-07-12) July 12, 1971 (age 48)
Hayward, California, U.S.
Height4 ft 11.5 in (151 cm) [2] [3]
Former partner Rudy Galindo
Former coachChristy Ness
Former choreographer Sandra Bezic
Skating clubSt. Moritz ISC

Kristine Tsuya "Kristi" 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 .


Early life

Yamaguchi was born on July 12, 1971, [4] in Hayward, California, [5] to Jim Yamaguchi, a dentist, and Carole (née Doi), a medical secretary. Yamaguchi is Sansei (a third-generation descendant of Japanese emigrants). [6] Her paternal grandparents and maternal great-grandparents emigrated to the United States from Japan, originating from Wakayama Prefecture and Saga Prefecture. [7] [8] Yamaguchi's grandparents were sent to an internment camp during World War II, where her mother was born. Her maternal grandfather, George A. Doi, was in the U.S. Army and fought in Germany and France during World War II during the time his family was interned at the Heart Mountain and Amache camps. [9] 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. [10]

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. [11]

Skating career

Kristi Yamaguchi at The Heart Truth fashion show in 2009. Kristi Yamaguchi at The Heart Truth 2009 (cropped).jpg
Kristi Yamaguchi at The Heart Truth fashion show in 2009.

Yamaguchi began skating and taking ballet lessons, as a child, as physical therapy for her club feet. [12]

Pairs career

With Rudy Galindo she won the junior title at the U.S. championships in 1986. [2] 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.

Singles career

Yamaguchi won her first major international gold medal in figure skating at the 1990 Goodwill Games.

In 1991, Yamaguchi moved to Edmonton, Alberta, to train with coach Christy Ness. There, she took psychology courses at the University of Alberta. [13] 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. She later explained her mindset during the long program: “You just do your best and forget the rest." Yamaguchi went on to successfully defend her World title that same year.

Professional career

Yamaguchi turned professional after the 1991–92 competitive season. [14] She toured for many years with Stars on Ice and also participated in the pro competition circuit.[ citation needed ]

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." [15]

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. [16]

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, [17] 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. [18] A sequel, It's a Big World Little Pig, [19] was scheduled to be published March 6, 2012. [20]

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. [21]

On May 20, 2008, Yamaguchi became the champion [22] 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.

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,the Heisman Humanitarian Award, [23] 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. [24] [25]

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. [16]

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. [26]

In November 2017, Yamaguchi returned to Dancing With the Stars' 25th season in Week eight, [27] to participate in a trio Jazz with Lindsey Stirling and her professional partner Mark Ballas. [28]

Personal life

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. After their wedding, Yamaguchi and Hedican resided in Raleigh, North Carolina where Hedican played for the Carolina Hurricanes NHL team and won his only Stanley Cup in 2006. He played for one year with the Anaheim Ducks and they now live in Alamo, California [29] in Northern California with their two daughters, Keara Kiyomi (born 2003) and Emma Yoshiko (born 2005). [30] In 2011, she authored a children's book, Dream Big, Little Pig!, with illustrator Tim Bowers. [31]

Competitive highlights

Kristi Yamaguchi's figure skates at the Museum of American History Kristi Yamaguchi's Figure Skates, 1990's.jpg
Kristi Yamaguchi’s figure skates at the Museum of American History


Winter Olympics 1st
World Championships 6th4th1st1st
Skate Canada 1st
Skate America 3rd1st2nd
Nations Cup 1st
International de Paris 2nd
NHK Trophy 2nd2nd
Goodwill Games 1st
International: Junior
World Junior Champ. 1st
U.S. Championships 2nd J.10th2nd2nd2nd1st


Ice Wars 1st1st1st
The Gold Championships 1st1st1st
World Professional Figure Skating Championships 1st2nd1st2nd1st1st2nd


(with Rudy Galindo)

World Champ. 5th5th
Skate America 5th2nd
NHK Trophy 3rd4th
Skate Electric Challenge1st
International: Junior
World Junior Champ. 5th3rd1st
U.S. Champ. 5th J.1st J.5th5th1st1st
J. = Junior level


1994You Must Remember ThisHerself / Madame X
1995Aladdin on IceJasmine
1998The Great Skate Debate IISkater
1994 D2: The Mighty Ducks Herself (Cameo)
1997 Everybody Loves Raymond Herself (Cameo)Episode: (Episode 19, The Dog) [32]
2001On EdgeRegionals Judge #4
2003Freedom: A History of UsHaruko ObataEpisode: "Depression and War"
2005 Go Figure Herself (Cameo)
2012Pandora Unforgettable Holiday Moments on IceHerself - Host
2013 Hell's Kitchen Herself (Dining room guest)Episode: "17 Chefs Compete"
2018 Fresh Off the Boat Herself / First Lady Kristi Yamaguchi-HuangEpisode: "King in the North"

Selected books


  1. "Kristi Yamaguchi". Biography. A&E Television Networks, LLC. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  2. 1 2 "Kristi Yamaguchi". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on April 18, 2020. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  3. Creef, Elena Tajima (2004). Imaging Japanese America: The Visual Construction of Citizenship, Nation, and the Body . USA: New York University Press. pp.  159–160. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  4. "Kristi Yamaguchi". International Olympic Committee. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  5. "Kristi Yamaguchi: First Asian American Woman to Bring Home the Gold". "Sports: Breaking Records, Breaking Barriers", National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
  6. Nomura, Gail M. (1998). "Japanese American Women," in The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History (Mankiller, Barbara Smith, ed.), pp. 288–290. , p. 288, at Google Books.
  7. Edited by Richard Demak (March 23, 1992). "Scorecard : Sports Illustrated vault". Retrieved April 23, 2010.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  8. "Kristi Yamaguchi | Faces of America". PBS. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
  9. Komai, Chris (May 1, 2015). "Family Members Connect Secretary Mineta, Kristi Yamaguchi To Smithsonian's Congressional Gold Medal Digital Exhibition Broader Military Story" (PDF) (Press release). Torrance, California: National Veterans Network. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  10. "Faces of America: Kristi Yamaguchi". PBS, Faces of America series, with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2010.
  11. Crooks, Peter (May 2010). "Kristi & Company: Olympic champ Kristi Yamaguchi juggles celebrity and philanthropy with her favorite role: being a mom". Diablo Magazine. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  12. Suzanne Riss (February 23, 2010). "'92 Olympian Yamaguchi balances road, family". CNN. Retrieved January 28, 2014.
  13. "Off-ice advice: Kristi Yamaguchi relies financially on family, friends". Market Watch. November 12, 2001. Retrieved January 28, 2009.
  14. Hersh, Phil (August 30, 1992). "Urbanski, Marval Melt Ice, Reunite". Chicago Tribune.
  15. "Ability Magazine: Kristi Yamaguchi Interview" (2009)" . Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  16. 1 2 Interview with Kristi
  17. Yamaguchi, Kristi (2011). Dream Big, Little Pig. Illustrated by Tim Bowers. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. ISBN   978-1-4022-5275-4. OCLC   662405424.
  18. Wengen, Deidre (March 29, 2011). "Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi turns best-selling children's author". Archived from the original on April 1, 2011. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  19. Yamaguchi, Kristi (2012). It's a Big World, Little Pig. Illustrated by Tim Bowers. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. ISBN   978-1-4022-6644-7. OCLC   747529286.
  20. "It's a Big World, Little Pig!". Retrieved January 30, 2010.
  21. "Jan. 25, 2006: Bay Area Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi Joins NBC11's Olympic Broadcast Team". Retrieved April 23, 2010.
  22. "Kristi Yamaguchi Wins Dancing with the Stars". Pacific Coast News. May 21, 2008.
  23. "Gold Medal Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi Selected as 2019 Heisman Humanitarian". Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  24. Michoces, Gary (December 8, 2008). "Yamaguchi tops Olympic Hall class". USA Today via Gale Academic OneFile.
  25. Lieser, Ethan (January 20, 2002). "Golden Girl: Ten years after winning the Medal, Kristi Yamaguchi is still celebrating". Asianweek. p. 18 via Proquest Ethnic Newswatch.
  26. "Our Story: Always Dream Foundation". Tsuya by Kristi Yamaguchi. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  27. Montgomery, Daniel. "'Dancing with the Stars' trio dances will invite back Kelly Monaco, Alfonso Ribeiro, Laurie Hernandez, Corbin Bleu". Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  28. Brozyna, Emily. "'Dancing with the Stars' trio dances will invite back Kelly Monaco, Alfonso Ribeiro, Laurie Hernandez, Corbin Bleu". Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  29. Golden Girl. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  30. Rutherford, Lynn (April 15, 2012). "Kristi Yamaguchi Looks at The Sport". IFS Magazine. Archived from the original on April 18, 2012.
  31. Dream Big, Little Pig!, by Kristi Yamaguchi (Author) and Tim Bowers (Illustrator).
  32. Romano, Ray; Rosenthal, Phil; Caltabiano, Tom; Havrilesky, Heather (2004). Everybody Loves Raymond: Our Family Album. Pocket Books. p. 148. ISBN   9780743496476. OCLC   475680761.

Related Research Articles

Sarah Hughes American figure skater

Sarah Elizabeth Hughes is a former American competitive figure skater. She is the 2002 Olympic Champion and the 2001 World bronze medalist in ladies' singles.

Michelle Kwan American figure skater

Michelle Wingshan Kwan is a retired American figure skater. She is a two-time Olympic medalist, a five-time World champion and a nine-time U.S. champion. She is tied with Maribel Vinson for the all-time National Championship record.

Tara Lipinski American figure skater

Tara Kristen Lipinski is an American former competitive figure skater, actor, and sports commentator. A former competitor in ladies' singles, she is the 1998 Olympic champion, the 1997 World champion, a two-time Champions Series Final champion (1997–1998), and the 1997 U.S. national champion. She was until 2019, the youngest skater to win a U.S. Nationals. She was also the youngest skater to win a World Figure Skating title and the youngest to win an Olympic gold medal. She is the first woman to complete a triple loop-triple loop combination, her signature jump, in competition.

Katarina Witt German figure skater and actress

Katarina Witt is a retired German figure skater.

Nancy Kerrigan American figure skater

Nancy Ann Kerrigan is an American former figure skater and actress. She won bronze medals at the 1991 World Championships and the 1992 Winter Olympics, silver medals at the 1992 World Championships and the 1994 Winter Olympics, and she was the 1993 US National Figure Skating Champion. Kerrigan was inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2004.

Midori Ito Japanese figure skater

Midori Ito or Midori Itō is a Japanese former figure skater. She is the 1989 World champion and the 1992 Olympic silver medalist. She is the first woman to land a triple-triple jump combination and a triple Axel in competition. At the 1988 Calgary Olympics, she became the first woman to land seven triple jumps in an Olympic free skating competition.

Rudy Galindo figure skater

Val Joe "Rudy" Galindo is an American figure skater who competed in both single skating and pair skating. As a single skater, he is the 1996 U.S. national champion, 1987 World Junior Champion, and 1996 World Bronze medalist. As a pairs skater, he competed with Kristi Yamaguchi and was the 1988 World Junior Champion and the 1989 and 1990 U.S. National Champion. He is the first openly gay skating champion in the United States, though US, World and Olympic champion Brian Boitano came out long after his career was over.

Rosalynn Sumners American figure skater

Rosalynn Diane Sumners is an American singles figure skater. She was the World Junior champion in 1980, the U.S. National champion in 1982, 1983 and 1984, World champion in 1983, and won a silver medal at the 1984 Winter Olympics.

Bret Hedican American ice hockey player

Bret Michael Hedican is an American former professional ice hockey player, a Stanley Cup champion, and a two-time US Olympian.

Kimmie Meissner American figure skater

Kimberly Claire "Kimmie" Meissner is an American former competitive figure skater. She is the 2006 World champion, the 2007 Four Continents champion, and the 2007 U.S. national champion. She is the first American and the first woman to simultaneously hold the World, Four Continents, and national titles.

Tonia Kwiatkowski is an American figure skater and coach. She is a two-time Winter Universiade champion, a winner of two silver medals on the Champions Series, and the 1996 U.S. national silver medalist. She finished in the top ten at two World Championships and competed in 13 U.S. Championships. Carol Heiss Jenkins and Glyn Watts were her longtime coaches. Kwiatkowski retired from amateur skating in 1998 and continues to be involved in the sport as a skater and coach.

Jill Ann Trenary is an American figure skater. She is the 1990 World champion and a three-time U.S. national champion. She was inducted to the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2002.

John Allen Wisden Nicks is a British figure skating coach and former pair skater. With his sister and pairs partner, Jennifer Nicks, he is the 1953 World champion. As a coach, his skating pupils have included Peggy Fleming, pairs team Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, Kristi Yamaguchi, Sasha Cohen, and Ashley Wagner.

Ashley Wagner American figure skater

Ashley Elisabeth Wagner is a retired American figure skater. She is the 2016 World silver medalist, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist in the team event, the 2012 Four Continents champion, a three-time Grand Prix Final medalist, winner of five Grand Prix events, and a three-time U.S. national champion.

Mirai Nagasu American figure skater

Mirai Aileen Nagasu is an American figure skater. She is a three-time Four Continents medalist, the 2007 JGP Final champion, a two-time World Junior medalist, and a seven-time U.S. national medalist.

The 1994 United States Figure Skating Championships was the United States Figure Skating Championships of the 1993–1994 figure skating season. They were the national championship to determine the national champions of the United States. They were held in Detroit, Michigan. In addition to determining the national champions, the event was used to determine the U.S. teams for the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships and the 1994 Winter Olympics.

Alexandria "Zsa Zsa" Riordan-Niechcielska is an American figure skater. She most recently competed internationally on the Junior National level for Poland and won first place to get the Gold Medal. She is of Polish and Irish descent.

Chen Lu (figure skater) Chinese figure skater

Chen Lu is a Chinese figure skater. She is the 1994 and 1998 Olympic bronze medalist and the 1995 World Champion. Chen won the first ever Olympic medal in figure skating for China.

Karen Chen American figure skater

Karen Chen is an American figure skater. She is a two-time CS U.S. Classic bronze medalist, the 2015 CS Golden Spin of Zagreb bronze medalist, and the 2017 U.S. national champion. Earlier in her career, she won four medals on the ISU Junior Grand Prix series, including gold at the 2013 JGP Slovakia.

Alina Zagitova Russian figure skater

Alina Ilnazovna Zagitova is a Russian figure skater. She is the 2018 Olympic champion, the 2019 World champion, the 2018 European champion, 2017–18 Grand Prix Final champion, and the 2018 Russian national champion. Zagitova also won a silver medal in the team event at the 2018 Winter Olympics, representing the Olympic Athletes from Russia team.


Further reading

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Hélio Castroneves & Julianne Hough
Dancing with the Stars (US) winners
Season 6
(Spring 2008 with Mark Ballas)
Succeeded by
Brooke Burke and Derek Hough