Claim to Fame
First Japanese-American female athlete to win Gold in figure skating at the 1992 Olympics; celebrity champion of reality-TV dance competition, Dancing with the Stars.
Kristi was born with clubbed feet—but she’s never let that stand in the way of what was to become an illustrious career as an athlete. Kristi’s a fourth-generation American, born to parents who experienced the injustice of Japanese internment camps in the U.S. after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, like 120,0000 other residents of Japanese heritage.
Kristi discovered a passion for figure skating at the tender age of 6 and developed that passion into an arduous training regime by 11, training for 5 hours a day, 6 days a week.
She was born to skate – and to win!
In 1988, Kristi won her first junior world title, and followed this with 2 national wins in 1989 and 1990 as a pairs skater. In 1992, she won the Olympic Champion in ladies’ singles at the Albertville Winter Olympics in France. She also won two World Figure Skating Championships and was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
With her championship medals came an increasing interest in her heritage and a growing involvement in the Asian-American community.
Kristi moved to Edmonton in the early 90s, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband, former NHL star Bret Hedican and their two children.
Kristi marries elegance and athleticism almost effortlessly as a figure skater. She’s captured audiences for decades, first with her skating prowess, later with her dancing abilities, and recently as an author for children’s books. She’s also published a DVD workout (Kristi Yamaguchi: Power Workout) and is the force behind Tsu.ya, a line of sports clothes for moms.
Why we Love Her
Kristi’s a real trailblazer, dedicated and focused. She’s made a real difference through her athleticism, encouraging Asian women to excel in sports, and now uses her fame to inspire children with her Always Reading literacy programs to help raise their literacy skills and academic performance. She lives her motto: no regrets.