See Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi Now, 30 Years After Winning Olympic Gold
The figure skating star just celebrated her 50th birthday last year.
In 1992, 20-year-old figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi won the gold medal in ladies' singles for the U.S. at the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, sharing the podium with Japan's Midori Ito, who won silver, and teammate Nancy Kerrigan, who took the bronze. The California native is also a one-time U.S. champion and two-time World Champion. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Yamaguchi's Olympic triumph—her first and only Winter Games. In the three decades since, the now-50-year-old has stayed involved in the sport, taken on some new pursuits, and raised a family. To find out more about the '90s figure skating icon's life today, read on.
Yamaguchi competed as a pairs skater, too.
At the same time she was becoming one of the world's top competitive singles skaters, Yamaguchi was actually a part of a competitive pair, too. Her partner was Rudy Galindo, who also went on to a successful singles career. In fact, Yamaguchi won gold in both the singles and the pairs events at the World Junior Championship in 1988. She and Galindo are two-time U.S. champions as a pairs team, as well. In the early '90s, they went their separate ways to each focus solely on their singles skating.
She went on to perform on tours and in TV specials.
The 1992 Olympics were Yamaguchi's first, and they'd also be her last as a competitor. She turned pro after that year's World Championships, which she also won, meaning that she retired from amateur competition. But she continued to compete in professional competitions and to perform in touring shows, like Stars on Ice, as well as one-offs and TV specials.
And she's stayed involved in the sport in other ways, as well. For the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Yamaguchi was a commentator for NBC Sports and Today.
She won the Mirrorball trophy.
In 2008, Yamaguchi competed in the sixth season of Dancing With the Stars, paired with ballroom dancer Mark Ballas. The two went all the way, winning the competition. (Former NFL star Jason Taylor came in second.)
The skater returned for a special performance on the show in 2017, when DWTS celebrated its 25th season. She joined Ballas and his then-partner Lindsey Stirling for a trio dance.
"It feels like a brand new show, the production value is way up there," Yamaguchi told E! News of how much had changed since her last visit. "As a fan, it's so cool to watch."
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She delved into other passions, too.
Figure skating and dancing aren't Yamaguchi's only pursuits. She's cameoed as herself in shows including Fresh Off the Boat and Everybody Loves Raymond, and in the movies, D2: The Mighty Ducks and Go Figure. She has a line of athletic wear. And she's penned a few books, including Figure Skating for Dummies and Always Dream, an inspirational book for children. In 2011, her first children's story book, Dream Big, Little Pig, was published and became a bestseller. Its sequel, It's a Big World, Little Pig followed a year later, and another children's book, Cara's Kindness, in 2016.
And the skater encourages kids to read through more than her books. In 1996, Yamaguchi founded the Always Dream Foundation, which aims to promote childhood literacy.
"We were always focused on supporting the hopes and dreams of disadvantaged children," she told USA Today of the foundation in 2021. "About 10 years ago, we narrowed our focus to early literacy. It's really about providing tools. When you look at some of the statistics out there, 60 percent of [poor] families have no children's books in the home. That really inspired me…This is about providing access to high-quality books and pairing that with family engagement support so the families feel empowered with tools to get engaged with their child's learning at home."
She's a married mom of two.
Yamaguchi and her husband had the ultimate winter sports meet-cute—they met at the 1992 Olympics. She's been married to former NHL hockey player Bret Hedican (he was on Team USA in Albertville) since 2000, and the couple have two daughters, Keara, 19 and pictured above, and Emma, 17. Emma has followed her mom into skating, and they've obviously taken to the ice together countless times.
In a 2016 appearance on the morning show You & Me, Yamaguchi talked about supporting her daughter in the sport without backseat coaching. "I have to hold myself back, because a lot of times she just wants me to be there, and be like, 'Yay, okay, do it again!" the star said. "So I try to, but then I'll start being like, 'Okay, lift your arm up more…'"