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Tuesday, February 5, 2002
Kristi Yamaguchi

Special to Page 2

Kristi Yamaguchi
Kristi Yamaguchi
Nearly 10 years to the day since Kristi Yamaguchi's greatest triumph -- Olympic gold at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France -- the U.S. figure skating star is being put to the test again.

Before the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics begin this weekend, Page 2's Ray Holloman put the former U.S. and world champion figure skater from Fremont, Calif., through the challenge of 10 Burning Questions. And as usual, success depends on how you perform under pressure in the long program, not the cumpulsories.

1. Page 2: "South Park" made one of your U.S. Olympic teammates, Brian Boitano, a pop culture fixture in the film "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut." So we think what America wants to know is ... when you've been in a tough situation in the past, did you ever ask yourself, "What would Brian Boitano do?"

Brian Boitano
Brian Boitano
Kristi Yamaguchi: Yeah, actually. Brian's been a huge role model for me, particularly when I was coming up, so I've definitely thought "What would Brian Boitano do?"

What does Brian think about the whole "South Park" bit?

Yamaguchi: He has a lot of fun with it. He produces a show every year, and last year he used the song in the show, and some of his friends dressed up like the "South Park" kids and made fun of him.

2. What's more likely to happen, you scoring a goal in the NHL or husband and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Bret Hedican successfully landing a triple axel?

Cartman and Kyle
Cartman and Kyle of "South Park"
Yamaguchi: Both are quite unlikely. Seeing Bret in figure skates and knowing how bad I am at handling the puck ... yikes. All I'm going to say is that for me to score, the goalie would have to be horribly distracted.

Do you play hockey much or does Bret really try to figure skate often?

Yamaguchi: Because of our schedules, we don't spend a lot of time on ice together. Once in a while in the summer, we'll share ice together, but it's not something we get to do a lot. But I really want to start playing hockey. I can see why it's so popular.

Admit it, you're just looking to get out East German judge aggression and check somebody into tomorrow.

Yamaguchi: No, I'm not that big. I'll definitely be looking for a nonchecking league.

Pavel Bure
Pavel Bure
More of a power hockey game, you or Theo Fleury?

Yamaguchi: He's just a little pest on the ice. He's a guy you love to hate. You want him on your team, but you hate him in the middle of things when he isn't. I dunno though, I think I can give him a run for his money.

3. Your husband played for the Panthers for three seasons before recently being traded to the Hurricanes. More dysfunctional limelight romance -- Pavel Bure and Anna Kournikova or Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly?

Yamaguchi: I would definitely have to say Tonya and Gillooly, I don't think Pavel's been investigated by FBI.

Actually, you never know, with the investigations of the Russian Mafia, Pavel might be under a little suspicion.

Tonya Harding
Tonya Harding
Yamaguchi: It's definitely still Tonya and Gillooly. Pavel and Anna were big news, but Tonya and Jeff, they were just ... wow.

4. It's been widely reported that you traveled with a Dorothy Hamill doll to competitions when you were first starting out as a youngster. Best performance by a doll: Chucky in "Child's Play" or Kitty Carry-All, Cindy's occasionally misplaced doll from the "Brady Bunch"?

Yamaguchi: No disrespect to Chucky, but I'm gonna have to go with Kitty Carry-All for sure. I loved "The Brady Bunch." I so grew up with them.

Kristi Yamaguchi
Yamaguchi's 'do in 1992
5. Biggest crime against humanity perpetrated by the year 1992 -- box haircuts or the Right Said Fred craze, i.e. the "I'm Too Sexy" song?

Yamaguchi: I'm probably gonna have to go with the box haircuts, those were horrible, but as far as crimes go, I'm going to have to add in my haircut from 1992. I don't know what I was thinking.

6. You were in "Mighty Ducks 2" as yourself at a party, which has long been the single most confusing scene to us in all of cinema. Let us set it up for anybody that might've missed that fine, fine film. The scene takes place at a high-dollar party. We see famous athletes such as Wayne Gretzky, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, yourself, Cam Neely, Greg Louganis and, as the token celebrity actor they have ... David Arquette. Who the heck invited David Arquette to that party?

David Arquette
David Arquette
Yamaguchi: I don't know. It wasn't me because I didn't even remember he was there. Then again, I was nervous sitting around the set all day waiting for them to call our one scene. We get out there, have five seconds and then half of it gets edited out.

Better balding co-star, Jason Alexander from the film "On Edge," in which you play an ice skating judge, or Scott Hamilton, also from "On Edge," as well as Stars on Ice?

Yamaguchi: I have to say Scott. He's one of us. Sorry, Jason.

Was Scott's toupee in that film made of Astroturf, or did the producers get their hands on some as-yet-unnamed space-age polymer blend?

Yamaguchi: That did look pretty nasty. It was funny though because we had to look twice and say, "Is that really him?"

7. When you first started competing internationally, Germany was still divided. Which locker room did the East German women dress in?

Yamaguchi: We all shared, no matter what. They definitely went into the women's locker room, though. In the sport of figure skating, at least, the East German women were actually very feminine.

Al Davis
Al Davis
8. You're from the Bay Area. Biggest atrocity courtesy of the Bay Area -- evil owner of the Raiders Al Davis or M.C. Hammer?

Yamaguchi: Due to the fact that I've met M.C. Hammer and he's a great guy, I'll go with Al Davis. Besides, I'm not really a huge Raiders fan. I like the 49ers.

9. What's your favorite Olympic moment that you weren't directly involved in?

Yamaguchi: A lot of people will say this, but the Miracle on Ice. I remember watching it and not even being a fan of hockey, and there were just tears all around the room.

Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama
10. If you could invite any three people living or dead, including one Olympian, to dinner, who would you invite and what would you serve?

Yamaguchi: One would be the Dalai Lama -- I think it would just be an amazing conversation. I've read parts of some of his books and I think he has a great philosophy on life, something a lot of people can learn.

The Dalai Lama, he's a long hitter, ya know?

Yamaguchi: Yep. Gunga galunga.

Bret Hedican
Bret Hedican
The former Olympian would be Michael Jordan -- Bret would want to be there for Michael. I would just pick his brain on how he handles the pressure of being a sports icon and keeping the desire to be the best.

And last, my husband, Bret Hedican -- I haven't seen him in about a month, so I'll drag him to dinner.

As for what I'd serve, it'd be a pretty eclectic meal, but something simple. We'd have sushi as an appetizer. We'd have steak and potatoes and vegetables ... and chocolate fondue for dessert.