Kristi Yamaguchi Recalls Olympics Support From Scott Hamilton, More Icons


Kristi Yamaguchi Recalls Scott Hamilton and More Icons Being So Welcoming During Her Olympic Debut 177

Kristi Yamaguchi, Scott Hamilton.
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Kristi Yamaguchi will never forget standing on the Olympic podium with a gold medal around her neck, partially due to the incredible support of the figure skating icons who came before her.

Dorothy Hamill, Scott Hamilton [and] Brian Boitano were all so welcoming and encouraging to me coming up as a young skater,” Yamaguchi, 52, recently told Us Weekly while discussing her new Barbie doll.

Yamaguchi made her Olympics debut in 1992 at the Winter Games in Albertville, France. She won gold, marking the first time an Asian-American athlete took home the top prize at a Winter Olympics.

Before her crowning moment on the podium, she looked up to Hamilton, now 65, Hamill, now 67, and Boitano, now 60, and more icons for guidance and advice.

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“The friendships that you make, to this day, I still have very, very fond memories of meeting some of my idols,” Yamaguchi gushed to Us. “[I remember] walking in and sitting down at the dining hall with Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansen, who were big idols of mine.”

Kristi Yamaguchi Recalls Scott Hamilton and More Icons Being So Welcoming During Her Olympic Debut 175
Ed Rode/Getty Images for The Scott Hamilton Cares Foundation

She continued, “And then, walking in the opening ceremonies and being announced as a U.S. Olympic team was just so humbling and just so incredible at the same time. And of course, competing, going through that and just pinching myself when I was announced as Olympic champion and brought onto the podium. So, [it was] a whirlwind and has definitely continued to be a whirlwind since then — but in a good way.”

Yamaguchi now likes to “pass [the advice she received] forward” onto the next generations of figure skaters.

“The last Olympic Games I mentored a young skater, Karen Chen, we’re still very close,” she said. “We’re both from the same hometown of Fremont, California, [and I’m currently] mentoring a young junior skater, he’s coming up in the ranks and has a bright future ahead of him. You know, [it’s] always an open door for [any advice or support].”

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In terms of advice, Yamaguchi explained to Us that she makes sure the athletes remember to enjoy their time on the ice.

I think the last two years I competed, I enjoyed it the most. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the pressure and the outside pressures and that really weighs down on you,” she said. “So, really think about the core of why you started skating. I think that really helped me come back around and realize the love I have for the sport and that I had so much to give to it even a year before the Olympics not knowing but wanting to go out there and give it my all and see what happens.”

Kristi Yamaguchi Recalls Scott Hamilton and More Icons Being ‘So Welcoming’ During Her Olympic Debut 178
Mattel

She added, “I think, [remember to enjoy] the process as much as you can because it all happens so fast but also, leave no regrets on the table. Just do everything in your power to go for it.”

Yamaguchi, who retired from competition after the 1992 Games, can now revisit her Olympic glory with a brand-new Barbie doll in her likeness. Mattel created a Yamaguchi doll, wearing a replica of her Olympic costume, for its “Inspiring Women” collection.

“It was pure excitement and honestly a huge honor especially to be part of the ‘Inspiring Women’ series and knowing I’m following in the footsteps of some incredible women that I idolize like Maya Angelou, Anna May Wong [and] Dr. Jane Goodall,” Yamaguchi told Us. “I mean, it was like, ‘Wow, am I put into that category? I’m not so sure.’”

Yamaguchi’s Barbie doll is available now.



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