Born in Hayward, CA and raised in Fremont, CA, Kristi Yamaguchi has had an incredible impact as an Olympic athlete, philanthropist, author, artist, businesswoman, wife, and mother. Her Japanese heritage stems from both her mother’s and father’s side, with her mother’s parents being among those sent to internment camps during World War II.
Born with clubfoot, figure skating began for Yamaguchi as a form of physical therapy. Her career escalated quickly, and Yamaguchi won her first junior national title as a pair with Rudy Galindo in 1986. After much success as a pairs team with Galindo, Yamaguchi went on to focus on her singles career. Rising in the ranks, she peaked at the right time as world champion in 1991 and US, World, and Olympic Champion in 1992.
Following her victory at the 1992 Winter Olympics, Yamaguchi founded the still-active Always Dream Foundation to support the lives of children through educational and recreational activities. She also stayed involved in world of figure skating, competing and touring as a professional with Stars on Ice, serving as the Goodwill Ambassador during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, and being a spokesperson for various U.S. Figure Skating campaigns. Yamaguchi continued to achieve as a children’s book author as well as developing the Tsu.ya clothing line.
Her list of accolades is lengthy, including 1996 Skater of the Year by American Skating World magazine, U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame inductee in 1998, World Figure Skating Hall of Fame inductee in 1999, USOC Olympic Hall of Fame inductee in 2005, and the 2008 recipient of the Thurman Munson Award for excellence in competition and philanthropic work. She received further national recognition as the winner of the sixth season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.
Yamaguchi is active in the community and her career, but her priority remains her family, including her husband Bret and daughters Keara Kiyomi and Emma Yoshiko.