Kristi Yamaguchi and Rudi Galindo
1989 U.S. Nationals Free Program
With her longtime partner, Rudi Galindo, Kristi Yamaguchi was one of those rare, gifted skaters who excelled at both pairs and singles skating.
The young team from California claimed the World Junior title in 1988.
The following year, they were crowned the surprise winners of the U.S. national championships. Strong individual technicians, their performance to "Romeo and Juliet" showcased content that would easily rival today's top teams.
Watch particularly the opening sequence of twists, throws, lifts and jumps. Note also their side-by-side triple flips and triple toe loops in quick succession. The audience reaction alone speaks volumes.
Though the young team placed as high as fifth in the World, when their coach passed away and Yamaguchi's singles' coach relocated to Edmonton, Yamaguchi was forced to choose between the two disciplines.
Yamaguchi Goes Solo
1992 U.S. Nationals Free Program
She chose to go it alone, and though success followed quickly, it was in fits and starts.
At the 1992 U.S. Olympic trials, Yamaguchi displayed an intense connection to her music ("Malaguena"). It is hard to believe this program is 20 years old.
The opening triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, still rare for top ladies' skaters, underlines what Yamaguchi knew she needed in order to match rivals Tonya Harding and Japan's Midori Ito.
Combining Sandra Bezic's masterful choreography with superior technical skills, Yamaguchi showed rare emotion at the midpoint of her performance. Upon landing the triple Salchow, itself a frequent nemesis for the then 20-year-old, she assured herself victory that day in Orlando.