Exclusive: Kristi Yamaguchi Today
Interview with a Betty on ice
She’s one of the most recognizable athletes in modern history – from the day she stole our hearts at the 1992 Olympic games to her recent participation in Dancing with the Stars (seriously, did anyone believe she WOULDN’T win?). She’s also the driving force behind her Always Dream foundation, which raises money for disadvantaged children to make their dreams come true. And now, she’s joined forces with the Christmas Seals, the American Lung Association’s largest fundraiser. (Can we nominate her for sainthood yet?) I recently sat down with Kristi to get the scoop about her charity work, her gold medal, Dancing with the Stars and, yes, ice-skating wedgies!
How did you get involved with the American Lung Association Christmas Seals® Campaign?
I’ve worked with the American Lung Association for several years on their Faces of Influenza campaign, helping encourage Americans to get vaccinated against influenza, a potentially deadly respiratory disease. As an athlete and a mother, I strongly support the Lung Association’s messages about the importance of lung health, and I am pleased to support their mission by joining them on their Christmas Seals Campaign.
Why is this an important campaign for you personally?
As an athlete, obviously my health is really important, and as a wife and mother, I’m the one who makes the important health care decisions for my family. My family’s health is my number one priority. The Lung Association’s campaigns like Faces of Influenza are designed to help educate the public about the importance of lung health, and it’s something I’m proud to be a part of.
Tell me about the Always Dream foundation. What are your goals and what was your inspiration for forming it?
The motto “Always Dream” has served as my personal inspiration for many years. It’s a reminder to dream big, never lose sight of my goals, and strive to become a better person. I can thank my family for their nurture and love because that’s what helped me to fulfill my dreams and accomplishments. Unfortunately not all children have these opportunities. For that reason, I felt the desire to create an organization whose sole purpose would be to inspire and embrace the hopes and dreams of children. Through my Always Dream Foundation, I simply hope to help children fulfill their dreams.
What is it like winning a gold medal, and standing on that podium in front of the world?
It is truly amazing to stand on top of the podium and hear the national anthem. There are so many thoughts that you think about but I always think about all the people who helped me along the way.
Was it a challenge to translate skating into dance for Dancing with the Stars?
It was difficult because of the footwork and the long hours of training. I enjoyed working with my partner, Mark Ballas, and everyone involved with DWTS was so helpful, kind and fun. I miss everyone!
How do you work on your physical fitness now?
I keep in shape by running after my daughters all day! I do Pilates and use the Elliptical machine at the gym. Also, to keep us all healthy, I make sure we’re vaccinated against influenza every year.
And our silliest, yet most important question: How do you prevent an ice-skating wedgie?!?
Oooh! People ask all the time and I say that it is one of skating’s most interesting problems!