Since 1984, our Travel & Training program has helped fuel the dreams of hundreds of deserving athletes. Many of these women have gone on to capture national championships and Olympic gold medals, including figure skater Michelle Kwan, alpine skier Picabo Street, judoka Kayla Harrison, gymnasts Kerri Strug and Gabrielle Douglas and many others.
Figure skating legend Kristi Yamaguchi is also on this list, having received our Travel & Training Fund grant in October of 1988. You might remember Kristi as the 20-year-old gold medalist at the 1992 Albertville Games or maybe you watched her foxtrot to the 2008 Dancing with the Stars championship. But what else has Kristi been up to since her Olympic triumph 21 years ago?
Then: A California native, Kristi began figure skating as a young child as physical therapy for a club foot. Evident to her parents that she was a gifted skater, Kristi began to skate competitively and rose quickly though the junior ranks. She was the 1992 Olympic Champion in ladies' singles, also winning two World Figure Skating Championships in 1991 and 1992 and a U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 1992. She won one junior world title in 1988 and two national titles in 1989 and 1990 as a pairs skater with Rudy Galindo. In December 2005, she was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
Now: Kristi turned professional after the 1992 competitive season. She toured for many years with Stars on Ice and also participated in the pro competition circuit.
In 1996, she established the Always Dream Foundation for Children. Initially, the goal of the Foundation was to provide funding, computers and back-to-school clothes for underprivileged children and for children attending summer camps for kids with disabilities. The Foundation’s current focus is early childhood literacy.
On July 8, 2000, Kristi married Bret Hedican, a retired professional hockey player she met at the 1992 Winter Olympics when he played for Team USA. The couple resides in Northern California with their two daughters.
On May 20, 2008, Kristi became the celebrity champion of ABC's Dancing with the Stars' 6th season. She was paired with Mark Ballas, defeating finalist couple Jason Taylor and Edyta Śliwińska.
In 2010, she worked as a daily NBC Olympics skating broadcast analyst on NBC's Universal Sports Network. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, Kristi was also a special correspondent for the Today Show.
In 2011, Kristi authored a children's book, Dream Big, Little Pig, which was #2 on the New York Times bestseller list; a portion of the proceeds went to the Always Dream Foundation to support early childhood literacy programs.
And in 2012, Kristi launched Tsu.ya by Kristi Yamaguchi, a woman's active wear line focused on function, comfort, and style to empower women to look good and feel good.
Learn more about the WSF Travel & Training Fund here.