Kristi Yamaguchi is an American ice skater who won the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France. She toured for ten years with Stars on Ice. Yamaguchi is known for her elegance and gracefulness on the ice. Few people know that, as a young child, grace did not come easily to Kristi.
Kristi Yamaguchi was born July 12, 1971, in Hayward, California. When she was born, her legs were turned inward. At only two weeks of age, she had to be fitted with casts on both legs to correct the problem. She wore casts until she was a year old and then braces until she was two. She needed to wear special corrective shoes until she was four years old. At the age of six, she began skating as exercise to help her legs improve. She soon discovered she had a natural talent. By the age of nine, Kristi was practicing five hours each day before school.
Kristi's early influences were her parents and fellow Olympic champion, Dorothy Hamill. Kristi admired Hamill's skating so much that she had a Dorothy Hamill doll she carried everywhere. She even slept with the doll at night. Kristi's Japanese American parents supported her through many years of training and competition. They modeled hard work and fostered pride in their Japanese heritage.