Olympian Kristi Yamaguchi displays on dealing with fame: ‘It was robust’

It’s been 26 years since Kristi Yamaguchi received a gold medal on the 1992 Winter Olympics in France — and determine skating continues to be a lifelong ardour for the prized athlete.

Whereas the 46-year-old didn’t journey to PyeongChang for this yr’s video games, Yamaguchi remains to be carefully tuning in and even sharing her perception on NBC Sports activities’ digital platform. 

Fox Information spoke with Yamaguchi about how she handled being a star, what her life is like at present and the key behind her lasting success.

Fox Information: How does it really feel to look at the Olympics and never take part this time round?
Kristi Yamaguchi: There’s at all times a way of pleasure in watching the skaters, notably. I nonetheless get nervous for them, however I’m at all times thrilled once they skate nicely. It’s quite a lot of enjoyable. I’m nonetheless an enormous fan of the game.

Contestant Kristi Yamaguchi poses at the "Dancing with the Stars" 100th show party in Hollywood, California May 6, 2008.    REUTERS/Fred Prouser                     (UNITED STATES) - GM1E45714FD01

Contestant Kristi Yamaguchi poses on the “Dancing with the Stars” 100th present occasion in Hollywood, California Could 6, 2008.


Fox Information: We heard you cried over Mirai Nagasu’s triple axel.
Yamaguchi: I met her eight years in the past in 2010 and simply having watched her journey, what she’s been by way of and her struggle to make the workforce this yr and her willpower – she by no means gave up on her dream. And it wasn’t straightforward. It took some soul looking out and he or she needed to dig actually deep. I believe to go and see her skate the best way she did… it’s simply such a triumph for her… You at all times wish to see that form of expertise on the Olympics.

Fox Information: How did you address fame?
Yamaguchi: It was robust. I used to be 20 years previous on the time and had been so sheltered as an athlete simply centered on one factor. After which unexpectedly you’re on the market and it hits you, like wow, lots of people are watching the Olympics (laughs). I imply, again then we didn’t have social media.

Rapidly folks know your title and who you might be. It was a bit bit intimidating how there have been so many individuals cheering for you when you had been competing. However I believe one factor that stored me grounded was that the World Championship was occurring a month after the Olympics in Oakland, the yard of the place I grew up. So, I used to be nonetheless fairly centered on my coaching… After which proper after that I went on tour with skating and performing. So it’s fairly a whirlwind. Consider it or not, it took a few years for issues to sink in and calm down.

1992 world champion Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States performs in the women's singles in the 10th International Professional Figure Skating Championship in Tokyo January 9 - PBEAHUMZABL

1992 world champion Kristi Yamaguchi of the US performs within the ladies’s singles within the 10th Worldwide Skilled Determine Skating Championship in Tokyo.


Fox Information: Describe that second if you realized you had been a star after the Olympics.
Yamaguchi: After the Olympics, I used to be coaching in Canada, however I had made a dedication to make an look at these rinks in Texas. The primary cease was Dallas and the subsequent was Houston. I got here for the appearances shortly, a pair weeks actually, after the Olympics. It was the primary time I had come to the states after the Olympics… It was completely loopy. It was on the Galleria Mall and the rink is contained in the mall.

There have been simply hundreds of individuals there. They had been saying visitors had stopped… I believe they nonetheless discuss with that day as Kristi Yamaguchi Day (laughs) in Dallas and Houston. Individuals had been climbing the timber within the mall to attempt to watch me skate. It was truly the primary time I had safety who needed to carry me out and in of the rink as a result of we couldn’t get by way of all of the folks. I simply appeared round and was so astonished. I used to be even laughing. Like “Oh, that is what it feels prefer to be a pop singer or a Hollywood star once they’re ushered in and surrounded by safety guards.”

Fox Information: You’ve loved a scandal-free life. What’s the key behind your success?
Yamaguchi: I believe I’ve simply been persevering with on the trail of what I’ve been obsessed with and retaining that focus there. My household has been my basis… they didn’t deal with me otherwise from anybody else. That stored me grounded. And having a household of my very own now? That has been my precedence. I believe simply at all times having targets and challenges forward of me and specializing in that.

Olympic figure skating champion Kristi Yamaguchi (R) poses with husband Bret Hedican (L) and daughters Emma  (2nd L) and Keara at the world premiere of Disney-Pixar's film "Wall-E" in Los Angeles, California June 21, 2008. The film opens June 27, 2008.  REUTERS/Fred Prouser                   (UNITED STATES) - GM1E46M168R01

Olympic determine skating champion Kristi Yamaguchi (R) poses with husband Bret Hedican (L) and daughters Emma (2nd L) and Keara on the world premiere of Disney-Pixar’s movie “Wall-E” in Los Angeles, California June 21, 2008.


Fox Information: What’s your life like at present?
Yamaguchi: I can’t complain… I’ve two daughters, 12 and 14. They’re undoubtedly at that age the place you actually have to be concerned and in tune with what’s occurring of their lives. That’s my precedence proper now… I’ve a basis, which focuses on early childhood literacy. We’re in our 22nd yr of existence. I’m very obsessed with that and serving as many youngsters as we are able to.

Fox Information: Any likelihood your daughters will take part within the Olympics?
Yamaguchi: Now we have a 12-year-old and he or she’s been skating for about seven years. She additionally simply began taking part in aggressive soccer. She’s undoubtedly acquired ambition! She stated, “I hope to be within the Olympics sometime for soccer and skating!” I advised her, “It’s going to take quite a lot of laborious work, focus and willpower.” She stated, “I do know, I do know…” It’s good to have a dream.

Fox Information: How can social media have an effect on Olympians at present?
Yamaguchi: It’s only a entire completely different world. I acquired good luck needs through telegram (laughs)… Lately, they’re getting hundreds of messages through social media. The world has shrunk and entry to your favourite athletes and celebrities is so available. For the fan, it’s nice and also you’re continuously getting an inside have a look at your favorites.

U.S.A's Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, 21, of San Francisco, Ca., shows off her gold medal in Albertville on February 21, 1992. Yamaguchi's compatriot Nancy Kerrigan win the Bronze medal.   REUTERS/Michael Probst - GF2DTMTKOTAA

U.S.A’s Olympic determine skater Kristi Yamaguchi, 21, of San Francisco, Ca., exhibits off her gold medal in Albertville on February 21, 1992.


However on the flip facet, for an athlete making ready for such an intense second, every part mentally must be in examine, particularly with skating. You simply have a couple of minutes to point out what you are able to do. One slip-up could make a distinction… And generally it’s laborious. There’s not at all times constructive issues on social media and what folks say about you. In that regard, I at all times attempt to inform skaters competing you don’t must learn every part and consider every part that’s written about you.

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