Kristi Yamaguchi began skating as physical therapy for her club feet. It soon grew to be much more than just an exercise for the fourh-generation Japanese-American, who was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Yamaguchi's grand parents were sent to internment camps during World War II, where her mother was born.
Known more for her grace than for her athleticism, Yamaguchi’s mom offered her $100 if she could land the triple Salchow during the 1992 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. The bribe worked as she pulled off the incredibly difficult feat and won her first U.S. championship. During the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, favorites Midori Ito and Tonya Harding both fell during their routines and Yamaguchi didn’t need to attempt to triple Salchow in order to win the gold.
After the 1992 Games, Yamaguchi turned professional and skated on the pro tour for a decade before retiring in 2002. She now has two daughters with former NHL player Bret Hedican and was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame in 2005.