Interview with Kristi Yamaguchi

Taken from Professional Figure Skating Magazine

CH: Kristi, you have been a professional skater for ten years now. How do you think pro skating has changed over that time?

KY: Pro skating seems to have gone through a lot of changes. First the giant wave we rode during ’94-’97 Lots of TV interest in that time and many opportunities to skate. many different types of shows and pro competitions to take part in. The creative side of pro skating seems to continue to push the limits.

CH: You are one of the most consistent skaters around. How do you keep so focused under pressure? Do you get nervous? How do you deal with all of the pressure you are under?

KY: Up to this point in my life, skating has been the focus, I have had a whole lot of support throughout my career. From my parents, to Christy Ness, to my husband, and IMG.Their support has helped me focus on what my job is on the ice. On what I need to do to be prepared for the various events that I do.I guess that I can deal with the pressure because I really enjoy what I do, and feel fortunate

CH: After touring with Stars on Ice for ten years, was it hard to say good-bye? What was your last year like?

KY: It was hard to say Good-bye. Stars was my life and extended family for ten years, some of my closest friends are from Stars. I will miss the camaraderie and closeness of the skaters, crew and everyone who works on the tour. My last year was so much fun. The special part was being able to skate pairs again. Denis Petrov was such a great friend to partner me. It was really the last wish I had had as a skater. Because of that, it made it a little easier to take the final bow.

CH: Have you been able to settle down at all? I mean, actually put your clothes away into a closet and drawers rather than pack them into a suitcase?

KY: This summer was still very busy. Now Bret, my husband, and I are settled in Raleigh, NC. where he is playing hockey. This fall is still a bit busy with a few TV shows, but after December, I’ll really be able to unpack.

CH: What are your future skating plans?

KY: I’m skating in Kodak’s Salute to Gold to air on NBC Dec., Divas, and Brian Boitano’s Holiday Spectacular to air on NBC Jan. 1st. Beyond that, I’m not sure what I’ll be doing.

CH: In the past year, it seems like you have been more open to working with different choreographers. What inspired you to do that now?

KY: I think when I listen to different types of music, I see a specific style. After being pro for a while and being exposed to different choreographer’s style, I lean to the one who’s style fits the music.

CH: While you were growing up, did you ever imagine that you would be a model? How do you feel in front of the camera?

KY: Not at only 5’1.” But I have always loved fashion and getting to know and work with some of the designers who use acetate, which I was the spokesperson for, was a thrill.

CH: Please tell us about your fundraisers and charity work.

KY: I did a lot of work with the Make a Wish Found. with Stars on Ice. This work inspired me to start my own foundation-The AlwaysDream Foundation. We help various children’s charities in the Bay Area, Nevada, and Hawaii. I was so fortunate and had a lot of support coming up as a skater, that now I want to give other kids who are disadvantaged, the support in inspiration that they need to reach their dreams. We also raised over $350,000 for breast cancer awareness with the skating concert A Golden Moment. Most recently, we have started the Youth Development and Empowerment Program with the Hawaii Centers for Independent Living. Our hope is to give kids with disabilities the power to learn skills to live independently, integrate with other kids, and gain self-esteem.

CH: I have know you since you were a little girl. You were always such a nice person and you still are. How have you kept fame from changing who you are?

KY: I think my family and friends have had everything to do with keeping me grounded. I am surrounded by so many great people that it has been such a positive influence in my life.

CH: How does it feel to know that you inspire millions of people all over the world?

KY: I think that’s a bit exaggerated, but it is a very rewarding and fulfilling feeling knowing that I can be inspiring another to go for their dream. It’s kinda full circle because I was inspired by Dorothy Hamill.

CH: What is married life like? Is it what you expected?

KY: It is wonderful. I feel lucky everyday to have met Bret. It’s so comforting to know you share future life goals with someone. I think this year being the first year I will be off the road, will be the start of a more normal marriage life.

CH: What is your favorite thing about skating? I mean, what makes you want to go to the rink and practice when you are not in the mood?

KY: The fear of looking horrible at my next performance! And the fact that the creative side of skating has always been an inspiration to me. I love the challenge (and hate it at the same time) of a new routine, new music, choreography.

CH: Is there anything that you want to tell our readers that could inspire them?

KY: We are so lucky to do something we love. Enjoy it, appreciate it, and give something back to it.

CH: Thank you Kristi, for being a PFSC member and for supporting our organization. You have been such a wonderful inspiration and we all really appreciate your invaluable support.