American figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi had built an outstanding resume before turning professional in 1992. Along with partner Rudy Galindo, she became the World Champion in 1988 and the U.S. National Champion in 1989 and 1990. As a single skater, she picked up World Figure Skating Championships in 1991 and 1992 and a National Figure Skating Championship in 1992. She was also a gold medalist at the 1992 Olympic Games and a World Juniors Champion in 1988. In her pro career, she was crowned the World Pro Figure Skating Champion in 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1997. For her impressive achievement, in 1998 Yamaguchi was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. She was also named International Figure Skating Magazine's “Most Influential Person in Figure Skating” in 2002. Other honors she has received include Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice awards for Favorite Female Athlete (1996 and 1998), the American Skating World's Skater of the Year award (1996) and an Athlete of the Year award for Figure Skating from the U. S. Olympic Committee (1989).
Yamaguchi has been married to NHL’s Bret Hedican since 2000, whom she first met at the Winter Olympics in 1992. The couple lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with their daughters Keara and Emma.
The Olympic gold medalist founded the Always Dream Foundation in 1996, which promotes and helps support the hopes and dreams of children. She counts fellow figure skaters Michelle Kwan, Scott Hamilton and Kurt Browning among her good friends and has published the books “Pure Gold, Always Dream” and “Figure Skating for Dummies.”
Childhood and Family:
A third generation Japanese-American, Kristi Tsuya Yamaguchi was born on July 12, 1971, in Hayward, California, to Jim Yamaguchi, a dentist, and Carole Doi, a medical secretary. Kristi and her siblings, Lori and Brett, were raised in Fremont, California. She attended Mission San Jose High School.
On July 8, 2000, Kristi Yamaguchi, known by family and friends as Yama, married professional hockey player Bret Hedican. She gave birth to the couple's first child, daughter Keara Kiyomi, on October 1, 2003. Their second daughter, Emma Yoshiko, was born on November 16, 2005.
Kristi Yamaguchi was introduced to skating at an early age in order to correct her clubfeet. By the time she was a teenager, she had turned competitive and won her first title in pairs at the 1986 Junior U.S. Championship, along with partner Rudy Galindo. The two went on to secure the bronze medal at the 1987 Junior Worlds Championship and became the World Junior Pairs Champion the following year. They also won the national titles in 1989 and 1990.
In the meantime, Yamaguchi also competed in the women's singles. Under the guidance of Christy Ness, she won the World Junior Ladies title in 1988. She also succeeded in pairs. When her couch moved to Edmonton, she alternated between California and Edmonton so she could train in both places. Following the death of her pairs coach, Jim Hulick, she decided to concentrate on singles and relocated to Edmonton in 1991.
That same year, Yamaguchi competed at the U.S. championship and ended up placing second, after Tonya Harding. She had previously won silver medals in the national competitions in 1989 and 1990. She then traveled to Munich, Germany, to participate at the 1991 World Championship, where she won her first world title.
One of Yamaguchi's most memorable moments occurred the following year when, after winning her first female national title, she earned a place at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in France. She won the gold medal in the games. The same year, the accomplished skater also defended her world title.
Following 1992, Yamaguchi tried her luck as a professional player. She won the World Pro Figure Skating Championships in 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1997.
In recent years, Yamaguchi has reduced her skating activities to focus on her family. When asked if her daughters had changed her life in a big way, she answered, “Absolutely. As a skater my whole life, I focused on my career and myself so it's been wonderful to just share so many new things in life with two little ones and just be a mom and kind of experience all that, joys and the challenges too.”
Outside of skating, Yamaguchi has appeared in print advertisements for clients like Harlick Skating Boots (1998), Anna Sui's Celanese Acetate Fiber fashions (1998-2000) and a TV commercial for Wendy's (1993). She portrayed Jasmine in the television film “Aladdin on Ice” (1995), which was based on the 1992 Disney movie “Aladdin,” appeared as a judge on the sport themed film “On Edge” (2001), starring Jason Alexander, and guest starred as Haruko Obata in an episode of the documentary series “Freedom: A History of Us” (2003).
Flo Hyman: Women's Sports Foundation, 2004
Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice: Favorite Female Athlete, 1998
Skater of the Year (American Skating World): 1996
Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice: Favorite Female Athlete, 1996
U. S. Olympic Committee: Athlete of the Year for Figure Skating, 1989
World Champion: (with partner Rudy Galindo), 1988
U.S. National Champion: (with partner Rudy Galindo), 1989 and 1990.
World Figure Skating Championships: 1991 and 1992
National Figure Skating Championship: 1992.
Olympic Games: Gold Medal, 1992