Olympian, actor, and philanthropist, Kristi Yamaguchi’s career may have started on the ice, but since her 1992 Olympic Gold Medal win, her career has been anything but cold. But what has she been up to in 2016? Here, we find out.
Kristi’s Early Life
Kristi Yamaguchi was born in Hayward, California on July 12, 1971 and raised in Fremont California alongside her siblings Brett and Lori. A surprise to some, Kristi’s love of ice skating came as a result of being born with club feet, which required extensive casting and corrective physical therapy. Her therapy of choice became ice skating after watching her sister go around the rink at age 6. This would start a life long love of the sport, and Kristi showed her talent quite early.
By the age of 15, she had already won her first junior title alongside Rudy Galindo, her partner, at the U.S. Championships. Within a three year period, Yamaguchi and Galindo would both win Singles and Pair World Championships, as well as another U.S. Title. These wins have often been attributed to the fact that both skaters were extremely talented even when skating alone, and were thus capable of extremely difficult maneuvers such as the side by side triple flip jumps, which even to this day is rarely attempted.
Olympics and Beyond
After graduating high school, Kristi would end up moving to Edmonton Alberta to train with a coach that would lead her to the Olympics, Christy Ness. She would also spend time studying Psychology at the University of Alberta. With her new coach, she would win the World Championships yet again in Munch, Germany and place third at the National level, gaining her a spot on the United States Olympic team.
1992 would prove to be a golden year for Yamaguchi, as she would not only win her first U.S. solo Title, but also win the Olympic gold medal from favorites at the time, Japan’s Midori Ito and her team mate Tonya Harding. As a result of her wins, she would turn professional and would spend the next decade on the pro circuit as well as touring with Stars on Ice and founding her own charity organization, the Always Dream Foundation in 1996. The Always Dream Foundation focused on primarily education, literacy and social enhancement of children, especially those living with a disability or in poor socioeconomic conditions, and would often be given significant funding by Kristi herself.
While skating on tour, Kristi would also start on an acting career both on and off the ice. The first of these would be 1994’s “You Must Remember This”, followed by “D2: The Mighty Ducks” where she made a cameo appearance, and the took a role as Jasmine for “Aladdin on Ice”. Her appearances would then vary from sitcoms like “Everyone Loves Raymond” to the PBS special, “Freedom: A History of Us”.
After 2002 when she would be a Goodwill Ambassador at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, Kristi would take some time away from the rink to celebrate her marriage to Bret Hedican whom she met at the 1992 winter Olympics (he was a member of the Hockey Team for the United States). They would also have two children, Keara Kiyomi and Emma Yoshiko, born two years apart in 2003 and 2005. The same year as Emma’s birth, Kristi would be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
What’s Kristi Yamaguchi Doing Now in 2018- Recent Updates
2006 would see the return of Kristi to the spotlight, as she would not only be a commentator for the 2006 Winter Olympics figure skating portion, but also have a starring role as the host of “Skating’s Next Star”, a reality series sponsored by Major League Figure Skating. Some two years later, she would also come to win the Inspiration Award from the Asian Excellence Awards, and rock the set of “Dancing With The Stars” with a season win. This would start another large series of awards over the next two years including those from the World Skating Hall of Fame, U.S. Olympic Committee Olympic Hall Of Fame, and U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
In 2011, she would go on to author an award winning children’s book, “Dream Big Little Pig” which got a sequel the following year in “It’s a Big World, Little Pig!” Both of which making the New York Times best selling list.
By 2012, Kristi would find herself hosting yet another skating special in “Pandora Unforgettable Holiday Moments on Ice”, and the following year was a guest on Hell’s Kitchen on the 17th episode.
As of 2016, Kristi Yamaguchi has focused primarily on her Always Dream Foundation. To help fund her project, she has released a line of empowering activewear for women named Tsuya, designed “To Feel Good, With A Purpose, and For Real Life”. She also contributes regularly to the Tsuya blog, and makes frequent trips to local schools where she contributes her time to further her mission of literacy and equality in the classroom.