The Winter Olympic season is upon us (hello, figure skating!), and we can't help but reminisce about some of our favorite moments and athletes from past games. Even though a lot of our figure skating memories in the '90s revolve around the 1994 Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding drama, it's impossible to forget about Kristi Yamaguchi.
Amid all the rivalry talk brewing, Kristi ended up beating out both Nancy and Tanya and earning her first gold medal at the 1992 winter games in Albertville, France. Looking back at her win 26 years later, her teammates' rivalry doesn't stick out in her mind. Instead, the 46-year-old spokesperson says that representing the U.S. and winning is what she remembers the most.
"Learning that I had won gold and the emotion and elation at that exact moment will always stick with me," Kristi told GoodHousekeeping.com. "The opening ceremonies is another thing ... It's such a special moment to be announced as part of the United States of America team and march in with the best athletes in your country. I always encourage every Olympian to take part in that."
Of course, getting to the '92 Olympic games wasn't exactly easy. While reflecting on her career, Kristi told us all about the strict training schedule she had to follow back then, starting when she was only in fourth grade.
"I was skating almost every day before school and sometimes after school. My bedtime was always around 7:30, maybe 8 at the latest. I just knew I didn't want to be tired in the morning and my coach always expected us to be up and ready to go."
To fuel up for long hours at the rink, Kristi would opt for cereal for breakfast, sandwich and soup for lunch (or pasta the day of competitions), and meat and vegetables for dinner. And at most meals, Kristi would always have two things sitting at her place.
"I had milk every night with my family ... and growing up in an Asian family, we had rice at every meal," Kristi remembers. "As a mom now it's come full circle, and I make sure my daughters are drinking lots of milk in the morning and for dinner, too."
Because of her intense training regimen, Kristi's social life took a bit of a hit. Occasionally, she would hang out with her skating friends on the weekends, but for the most part her time was spent practicing or resting.
"It was a trade-off. To me, it wasn't a sacrifice. It was a choice," Kristi says. "I felt like going to the competitions and meeting friends from other countries was definitely a good trade off."
Needless to say, it was. Today, Kristi is excited to pass on her knowledge and advice to figure skater Karen Chen, who will be competing in her first Olympics in Pyeongchang. Apart from mentoring the 18-year-old, Kristi is looking forward to cheering for Team U.S.A. from afar in Stamford, Connecticut during the events.
"I can't wait to watch speed skating, snowboarding, and a lot of my Team Milk members like Maddie Bowman, Joss Christensen, Jamie Anderson, and Rico Roman. Honestly, I pretty much love it all."
Same, Kristi. SAME!