Life 101…Personally Speaking is an educational yet informal interview program hosted on the campus of Nova Southeastern University.
Kristi Yamaguchi’s victory on the sixth season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars (the first woman since season one to claim the trophy) is another achievement in a career marked with golden success. She and professional dance partner Mark Ballas received perfect marks for their final three dances—testament to not only her talent but also her tireless preparation and commitment to excellence.
Following her victories at the 1992 Winter Olympics and World Championships, Kristi embarked on a professional career that has flourished both on and off the ice. When she joined the cast of Stars on Ice in 1992, her presence helped define that tour as the preeminent skating show in the world. She toured for 10 years, consistently delivering exquisite performances that brought audiences to their feet. During that time, she also won numerous professional competitions and frequently appeared on television specials. Kristi served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City and was one of the few artists asked to perform at both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. In 2003, she premiered her own TV special on NBC, which she has continued to headline annually. She has also authored two books: Figure Skating for Dummies and Kristi Yamaguchi, Always Dream. In January 2007, Kristi served as spokesperson for National Skating Month, working with U.S. Figure Skating, its member clubs and Basic Skills programs to encourage people to learn to skate for fun and fitness.
Throughout her professional career, Kristi has been a highly sought after corporate spokesperson, sustaining long-term relationships with Celanese Acetate. Other corporate endorsements included the famous “Milk Mustache” campaign, a national TV commercial and appearances for Smart Ones and print advertisements for the Platinum Council. Kristi and husband Bret Hedican were featured in a General Electric campaign and appeared in public service announcements for Be Active North Carolina. She currently works with Kellogg’s® and the American Lung Association.
One of Kristi’s lasting legacies will be her Always Dream Foundation (www.alwaysdream.org), founded in 1996. The foundation has been an active fundraiser and supporter of children’s charities in the San Francisco Bay Area, including annual Christmas toy drives. It organized two large-scale events in Hawaii, where able-bodied and disabled children competed side-by-side in an Olympic-themed camp. The major project currently underway is construction of a special playground, which will enable kids with and without disabilities to play together in a beautiful, natural setting.
Kristi and Bret were married in July 2000. They are the proud parents of daughters Keara and Emma. The family resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.