Anyone who knows anything about ice skating knows about Kristi Yamaguchi and her gold-medal victory at the 1992 Olympics. Since then, the figure skater has been actively involved in the sport, created a foundation that supports children's education and inspiration, and won the sixth season of Dancing with the Stars. Yep, it's safe to call her a rock star.
These days, Yamaguchi's joined Team Kellogg's, where she'll be mentoring athletes hoping to make the journey to Sochi in 2014. While some may think it's a bit early to be chatting about the Winter Games, we think the timing couldn't be more perfect. Catch up on what else Yamaguchi is up to, then get a head start on meeting the athletes she's hoping to coach all the way to the Olympic podium. While all your friends are in the dark, you'll be the fountain of knowledge they turn to. Look at you, smarty pants.
Tell me a bit about Team Kellogg's. Whose faces can we expect to see?
I'm the co-captain of the team, along with Jim Craig, the goalie from the 1980 Miracle team. The other athletes are all Olympic hopefuls, who will probably be competing and representing Team USA in the Sochi Games next winter.
It really is. Team Kellogg's is all about following these athletes as they start their journey for getting ready for Sochi. I mean, of course they've been getting ready for years, but now fans can follow along. Kellogg's Facebook page will have video clips of their stories, training tips and nutrition advice straight from the pros.
That will definitely be fun. Any other fun features?
You can find out how these athletes got their start - who was the coach who first got them going, which people gave them inspiration and, of course, what breakfast does to fuel their start.
So are you and Jim mentors, then, as accomplished athletes yourself?
Yeah, in a sense. Jim and I have been there, we've experienced the Olympics and know what they're going through. We hope to encourage them to keep dreaming big, and we want to be there to give whatever advice we can to help prepare them for what lies ahead.
Let's take a trip back in time then. Do you have a favorite Olympics experience?
Well, I think just being able to say you're an Olympian is a big honor. Otherwise, aside from competing and winning, just taking part in the opening ceremonies was amazing. You meet all of the athletes from all of the other countries, and you get to meet athletes representing your own country, but who compete in other sports. It was just fascinating to be there, and you really kind of realize how big this event is — it's so much more than just your one little sport. I'm just honored to have been a part of it.
I can imagine. If there was a sport that you could do other than ice skating, what would you choose?
Whew! What other sport have I always wanted to be good at...that's a good question! I mean, gymnastics is my favorite summer sport to watch. I don't think I have the guts to be a gymnast, though. Skating has its dangers here and there, but what I think they do is just incredible. They're flying through the air and just doing things that seem inhuman.
What about your victory on Dancing with the Stars...can we expect to see you on an All-Stars season?
I don't know if I would just because it was a huge commitment. That's your focus for the next - hopefully - ten weeks, so that's a lot of time. When I did it in 2008, my kids were just two and four, so they weren't in school yet and it was easy to coordinate seeing them. I loved the experience, but it would have to be the perfect storm to do it again. Who knows!
Have your kids started exploring in sports yet, now that they're older?
Yes! They're seven and nine, and it's really fun. My nine-year-old is into softball, so her season is about to start pretty soon. And she does two different types of dance. She shied away from skating, which is fine, but she's more of an artistic type. She wants to write and illustrate books. My younger one is into soccer, and she also skates, for just about a year, so she's at a very beginner level.
What tips do you have for people who want to get into skating?
It's never too late to start! Skating is such a great family activity. Go find a local rink, and if you really want to learn how to skate properly, check out the group classes - that's a great way to get basic instruction. Other than that, learn how to properly fit your skates! It's so key. So many issues can be solved just by making sure you have the right fit and a good pair...I can't even skate in those rentals, so I don't know how they expect the public to do it! It's hard!
Visit the Kellogg's website for more information on Kristi and her participation with Team Kellogg's.
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