Kristi Yamaguchi

Kristi Yamaguchi
Kristi Yamaguchi

Kristi Yamaguchi at the 2009 Heart Truth fashion show
Personal information
Country represented United States
Born July 12, 1971 (1971-07-12) (age 40)
Hayward, California, U.S.
Former partner Rudi Galindo
Former coach Christy Ness
Skating club St. Moritz ISC
Retired 1994

Kristine Tsuya "Kristi" Yamaguchi-Hedican (born July 12, 1971)[1] 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.[2] In 2008, Yamaguchi became the celebrity champion in the sixth season of Dancing with the Stars.


Early life

Yamaguchi was born in Hayward, California[3], to Jim Yamaguchi, a dentist, and Carole (née Doi), a medical secretary. Yamaguchi is Yonsei (fourth-generation Nikkei).[4] Her paternal grandparents and maternal great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from Japan, originating from the Wakayama Prefecture and the Saga Prefecture.[5][6] Yamaguchi's grandparents were sent to an internment camp during World War II, where her mother was born.

Yamaguchi 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 ballet lessons, as a child, as physical therapy for her club feet.

Pairs career

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 Pair Championships; Galindo had won the 1987 World Junior Championship in singles. In 1989 Yamaguchi and Galindo won the senior U.S. championships pairs title and won 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

In 1991, Yamaguchi moved to Edmonton, Alberta to train with coach Christy Ness. There, she took psychology courses at the University of Alberta.[7] 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. Yamaguchi and Hedican reside in Northern California with their two daughters, Keara Kiyomi, born in 2003 and Emma Yoshiko, born in 2005. Hedican is a TV analyst who covers the San Jose Sharks ice hockey team.

In 1996, Yamaguchi established the Always Dream Foundation for children.

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.[8]

Yamaguchi made a fitness video with the California Raisins in 1993 called, "Hip to be Fit: The California Raisins and Kristi Yamaguchi". As an actress, she appeared in the PBS series, Freedom: A History of Us portraying Haruko Obata, one of the first teachers of ikebana in the San Francisco Bay Area. As herself, she appeared on Everybody Loves Raymond, D2: The Mighty Ducks, Frosted Pink, and the Disney Channel original movie Go Figure. Yamaguchi has also appeared in numerous television skating specials including the Disney special Aladdin on Ice, portraying 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.

According to research done by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., of Harvard University, in 2010 for the PBS series Faces of America, her heritage can be traced back to Wakayama and Saga prefectures in Japan, and her paternal grandfather, Tatsuichi Yamaguchi, immigrated to Hawaii in 1899.[9]

Dancing With the Stars

On May 20, 2008, Yamaguchi became the celebrity champion[10] on ABC's reality program Dancing with the Stars 6th season paired with Mark Ballas, defeating finalist couple Jason Taylor and Edyta Śliwińska.

In season 11, week 8 "Instant Choreography" was the theme in which the couples practice their routines for a week and will receive the music for one of their performances only 20 minutes before their live routines. Fan favorites from previous seasons also came back to judge the couples, who re-created their most memorable routines on the 200th episode; these guest judges were Hélio Castroneves, Kelly Osbourne, Emmitt Smith, Drew Lachey, Gilles Marini, and Mel B. Kristi Yamaguchi and Apolo Ohno also served as team captains for the team dances. Yamaguchi's team consisted of Rick & Cheryl, Kyle & Lacey and Bristol & Mark, while Brandy & Maksim, Jennifer & Derek and Kurt & Anna were on Ohno's team.

Competitive highlights


Event 1987–88 1988–89 1989–90 1990–91 1991–92
Winter Olympics 1st
World Championships 6th 4th 1st 1st
World Junior Championships 1st
U.S. Championships 10th 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st
Skate Canada 1st
Skate America 3rd 1st 2nd
Nations Cup 1st
Trophée Lalique 2nd
NHK Trophy 2nd 2nd
Goodwill Games 1st


(with Rudy Galindo)

Event 1984–85 1985–86 1986–87 1987–88 1988–89 1989–90
World Championships 5th 5th
World Junior Championships 5th 3rd 1st
U.S. Championships 5th J. 1st J. 5th 5th 1st 1st
Skate America 5th 2nd
NHK Trophy 3rd 4th
Skate Electric 1st
  • J = Junior level


Year Title Role
1994 D2: The Mighty Ducks Herself (Cameo)
2005 Go Figure Herself (Cameo)

Selected books

  • Yamaguchi, Kristi. Figure skating for dummies, Foster City, CA : IDG Books, 1997. ISBN 0764550845
  • Yamaguchi, Kristi. Pure Gold, Harcourt School, 1997. ISBN 9780153075513
  • Yamaguchi, Kristi. Always dream, Dallas : Taylor Pub. Co., 1998. ISBN 0878339965


  1. ^ Date of birth found on the California Birth Index 1905–1995, under Yamaguchi, Kristine T, on 12 July 1971 in Los Angeles County.
  2. ^ "Jan. 25, 2006: Bay Area Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi Joins NBC11's Olympic Broadcast Team". Retrieved 2010-04-23. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ 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. at Google Books
  5. ^ Edited by Richard Demak (1992-03-23). "Scorecard : Sports Illustrated vault". Retrieved 2010-04-23. 
  6. ^ "Kristi Yamaguchi | Faces of America". PBS. Retrieved 2010-04-23. 
  7. ^ "Off-ice advice: Kristi Yamaguchi relies financially on family, friends". Market Watch. 2001-11-12.{9620C364-EF1C-4A97-A28E-5C97255E10BF}&siteid=mktw. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  8. ^ Wengen, Deidre (March 29, 2011). "Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi turns best-selling children's author". Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Faces of America: Kristi Yamaguchi", PBS, Faces of America series, with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2010.
  10. ^ "Kristi Yamaguchi Wins Dancing with the Stars". Pacific Coast News. 2008-05-21. 


Further reading

External links

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

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