Women’s History Month: 10 Questions with Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic & World Figure Skating Champion
Added by Shannon Hovan on March 13, 2013.
Everyday this month, Double G Sports will be featuring interviews from prominent women in the sports industry as our way of celebrating Women’s History Month. This project is in its 2nd year. Today we feature Olympic and World Figure Skating Champion, Kristi Yamaguchi.
1. Who or what is it that had the most influence on you growing up as a female athlete?
My coach Christy Ness. She definitely taught me work ethic, how important it is to set a goal, and how to be focused. She also taught me that you have to be physically and mentally ready for competition.
2. You have two young daughters, how have you passed on that influence to them? Do you have a very active household; are your daughters involved in sports yet?
We’re trying to pass down those influences to my older daughter right now because she is a bit older. She’s into softball and dance while my younger daughter is playing soccer and skating a little bit.
3. When would you say was your first major breakthrough in the sport of figure skating?
When I was about 16 years old I competed at the World Junior Championships. At that time I was competing in pairs and singles. My partner and I won the pairs and I won the individual event, and that was my first major international competition.
4. What is your greatest memory from competition?
I would have to say the 1992 Olympics Games. Just going out there and competing, it was such an honor to be there for our country and also knowing that I had dreamed about that moment my whole life. I think it was always my ultimate goal to get to the Olympics and I wanted to do everything in my power to try and get there. And, you know, hopefully it would happen.
5. Often times, athletes will talk about the difficulty of transitioning from competing to the next chapter in their lives. Was that a difficult transition for you? How did you manage it?
Skating has a professional side to it along with a competition side. So, once I was done competing I could skate and perform for ten more years, which is amazing. I was very lucky that the sport has those two different worlds. After those ten years of performing though, I was ready to move on.
6. How did your competitive skating career influence the projects and ventures you are currently a part of?
I think that everything kind of organically drew from one thing to the next. When I turned pro we did an event for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, so I ended up getting involved in that and that inspired me to start my own foundation. When the time was right I started the Always Dream Foundation and it has grown into other things. I have always been looking for the next challenge and the next opportunity.
7. Talk a little bit about the Always Dream Foundation. What is its mission and what have you learned from participating within it?
We focus on childhood literacy. We launched reading programs in two California schools this year and we’re expanding beyond California this year. We’re trying to give kids that first start in reading who don’t have access to books or to rechnology.
8. In what ways are you still involved in the figure skating world? Will you be traveling to the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014?
There are skating shows on NBC that I have hosted, usually in the fall and winter. I’m still involved with U.S Figure Skating. I help with PR and other things in association with that. I was an analyst for Universal Sports and a special correspondent for the Today Show during the 2010 Olympics. I’m involved here and there and am hoping to be involved with the 2014 Games in some way.
9. What motivated or inspired you to write children’s books?
Authoring the first book opened up my eyes to child literacy and to some of the statistics out there regarding child literacy in our country. After writing the book and then doing the book tour, I got to see what is out there as well as all of the different organizations that exist. Ultimately, if a child doesn’t have that start with reading in kindergarten they are behind their whole lives. We are looking to change those statistics in any way we can.
10. With all you have been involved in and accomplished, what’s next for you?
Well, actually I’m currently working on my third children’s book. Hopefully, in the next year it will be out. I’m also obviously involved in the foundation and I just launched a women’s active wear line this past fall.