The best advice Kristi Yamaguchi says she received from her mom was simple: Work hard. Now that the Olympic gold medal figure skater is a mom herself—to two girls, ages 8 and 10—Yamaguchi still believes that hard work and commitment are keys to success on and off the rink.
While Yamaguchi and her husband, Olympic hockey player Bret Hedican, don't plan on pushing their girls into the Olympic spotlight, the two want their kids to give 100 percent in the sports they choose.
Yamaguchi is in Sochi for this year's Olympic Games and answered our questions over email (hello, 12-hour time difference!) about sports, winter beauty and which Olympian she would have loved to meet.
You have two daughters, one of whom is a skater. Do they have dreams of competing in the Olympics?
Oddly enough, my younger one is a skater and she has been doing it for a couple of years. More recreational, as on more than one occasion she has said she does not want to go to the Olympics. I think she is seeing the competitors, and it is intimidating for an 8-year-old. It’s funny because to me it was a dream, but to her she isn’t really interested so I just tell her she doesn’t have to, and to enjoy the sport as a recreational activity. As soon as you get wrapped up in competition, things can change pretty quickly, so who knows!
What advice do you give them about sports in general?
The advice my husband and I try to give our kids or to just really make an impression with them is that if they choose to do the sport then to give it 100 percent. We aren’t asking them to be the best or go beyond what their limits are, but once they make a commitment they are committed. They are still young—they are 8 and 10 years old—but we don’t allow them to say, "I don’t want to go to practice," because they made a commitment to their team and teammates, so they need to follow through with that. We learned that from our parents, so we try to influence them with that advice. At the same time, it is being as positive as you can and teaching them fair play and sportsmanship as well.
The best advice my mother gave me was cliché and so simple, but—to work hard. Early on, she was not a tiger mom by any means, but she was honest and would tell me that I am not the most talented athlete out there and sometimes you need to work harder than others to do what maybe will come a little bit easier for them. I think that was the best advice I got because I was young, but then I realized that I need to focus if I want to compete. To do as well as the other kids, I will have to work a little harder. I definitely believe that only takes you so far—it is the passion and the drive that is going to take you to the next level. I love being part of the P&G Thank You Mom program because it reminds me to thank my mom for everything she has done to advise and support me.
What are some of the must-have winter-weather beauty products you've brought with you to Sochi?
I of course have my Secret Clinical Strength in Invisible Solid with me just to get me through my day. I have lotion and lip balm to keep me going but I did keep in mind that if I needed anything, I have the P&G Family Home here to help me with the remaining beauty products I need. Like my body wash—I came here to grab some Olay Body Wash in Sensitive since its really moisturizing and helps with dry skin, and I forgot to pack it.
If you could meet any Olympian—past or present—which one would you choose and why?
My idol growing up is skater Dorothy Hamill, and I have had the pleasure and honor of meeting her and getting to know her. Today I would have to go with [the late figure skater and film star] Sonja Henie. She was such a pioneer in our sport and to this day I think there has been no one like her in our sport. She really transcended figure skating and became an icon in Hollywood and made figure skating glamorous. I think she had a lot to do with making figure skating looked at as the glamour sport of the Olympics.
This big P&G commercial for this year's Olympics features moms picking their kids back up after a fall. How have you done that for your girls?
You watch that P&G commercial “Pick Them Back Up” and it gets me every time, of course from being a mom, too. There are so many ups and downs as a kid, and when they show the baby starting to walk I have vivid memories of our older one taking her first steps, following behind her and catching her when she fell. Other times when our younger one had some physical issues, we would go with her to get a couple of MRIs, and I would sit there with her and reassure her that everything was going to be OK because mommy and daddy are here. It is all those things you learn as a parent that unconditionally you are going to be there for your children.