She was one of the pioneers in the post-figures era of figure skating. It was in 1992 that Kristi Yamaguchi became the first American female figure skater to win Olympic gold since Dorothy Hamill did it 16 years before. And she did it at Albertville, France, in the first Olympics after compulsory figures were eliminated from competition.
Now, 21 years later, Yamaguchi is still one of the most recognizable names in figure skating, having been back in the national spotlight after winning the sixth season of Dancing With The Stars in 2008. She has extended her reach beyond figure skating with her outreach ventures, including her Always Dream Foundation and her partnership with Smucker's.
Since her win in 1992, Yamaguchi's brand has morphed from Olympic champion into a champion for family and education. Her most recent partnership with Smucker's is the Uncrustables Unstoppable Family Photos contest, currently open for online voting. The winning family will receive $15,000 for a family adventure.
My passion is education.
She has also become an influence in education. Inspired by the Make A Wish Foundation, Yamaguchi established her Always Dream Foundation in 1996, working currently to improve early childhood literacy through reading programs. With her two daughters currently in public school in California, she has gotten a better picture of the public education system and is utilizing her foundation to fill in the gaps and better educate young kids.
With her foundation, Yamaguchi has partnered with national educational organizations to launch two reading programs in kindergarten and, in the future, first grade classrooms. These programs emphasize childhood literacy through parental engagement and eReader technology.
If these children don't have the foundation [in reading] ..., then it will effect them for the rest of their lives.
As for skating, Yamaguchi is still plenty current on the state of the sport. In the fall, she will be hosting more Disson skating shows. Three years ago, she was an analyst for the Vancouver Olympics for Universal Sports and is exploring similar opportunities next season at Sochi. Her influence, both in skating and in education and family, is still going strong two decades after Albertville.