Both on and off the ice, Kristi Yamaguchi has been an inspiration to millions of fans around the world for her athletic achievements and continually giving back to the community.
As an athlete, artist, author, wife, mother and philanthropist, Kristi embodies the word champion. Her motto is "Always Dream," and Kristi's accomplishments prove that dreams can come true with hard work and dedication.
Following her victory at the 1992 Winter Olympics, Kristi founded the Always Dream Foundation to support the lives of children through educational and recreational initiatives. For almost 20 years, Kristi has championed the Always Dream Foundation, continuing to inspire children and supporting the local community.
"All the athletic glory and honors are wonderful but sometimes I come face to face with a disadvantaged child or with a struggling mother or father and I am grateful for my gifts. And I rededicate myself to doing whatever I can to help someone in need. The good feeling I get from contributing rivals anything I felt on the Olympic stand in Albertville."
Over the years, Kristi has continued to stay involved in ice-skating. As a professional, Kristi toured with Stars on Ice from 1992-2002, won numerous professional competitions, frequently appeared on television specials and collaborated with several choreographers to create diverse programs.
During the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Kristi served as the Goodwill Ambassador and performed in both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. In addition, Kristi has been a spokesperson for National Skating Month and worked with U.S. Figure Skating and its member clubs to encourage people to learn to skate for fun and fitness.
Throughout her career, Kristi has received numerous awards and accolades. In 1996 she was named Skater of the Year by American Skating World magazine. She has appeared on International Figure Skating magazine's annual "25 Most Influential Names in Figure Skating" list several times and was named the Most Influential person in the sport for the 2001-02 seasons. She was named to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1998 and the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1999. On Dec. 8, 2005, she was inducted into the USOC Olympic Hall of Fame. In January 2006, she joined all her fellow American Olympic gold medalists for a special tribute at the 2006 U.S. Championships in St. Louis. Later that year, Kristi was named to the Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame. In February 2008, Kristi received the prestigious Thurman Munson Award, acknowledging excellence in competition and philanthropic work within the community.
Kristi Yamaguchi's victory on the sixth season of ABC's Dancing with the Stars (the first woman since season one to claim the trophy) is another achievement in a career marked with golden success. She and professional dance partner Mark Ballas received perfect marks for their final three dances—testament to not only her talent but also her tireless preparation and commitment to excellence.
In 2006, Kristi's husband, Bret, achieved his greatest dream in sports when his NHL team, the Carolina Hurricanes, won the Stanley Cup. "To be along for that ride, to be able to experience his dream with him was amazing," she says. "I knew how much it meant to him."
Kristi's family is now her first and foremost priority. She thoroughly enjoys being on the ice, but nothing compares to being with her daughters. "I can't say I would have done it any other way," she says. "I definitely feel blessed to have Keara and Emma in my life. My family means everything to me."