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Why Kristi Yamaguchi Won’t Force Her Kids to Ice Skate

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If you’re a parent and you happen to be good at something, like exceptionally good, it’s natural to want to pass that skill along to your kid, isn’t it?

When I had the chance to interview Olympic Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi a few weeks ago (that’s me on the right), our conversation made me think hard about this question.

Kristi has two girls around my daughters’ age. Her husband Bret Hedican is an Olympic hockey player. That’s two parents at home on the ice so I figured we’d be talking about how she’s perfecting her kids’ triple salchow in time for Korea in 2018.

But Kristi said her girls are actually not interested in ice skating. One of them is completely not interested. Her younger daughter Emma does skate a bit, but it’s “recreational” at this point, she says.

When my kids beg me to ice skate with them I can only imagine how much they’d love it if I could even skate backwards. (I’ve long ago lost the ability.) I assumed her kids would love to learn from a master but I was forgetting something painfully obvious: Taking up a sport — or anything, really — that’s your mother’s trademark could come with a whole host of issues attached to it.

So there’s that piece. The kids. But also, to Kristi’s credit, she is not forcing them to do it anyway. She of all people knows how hard it is. Certainly there are all sorts of trophies and glory to be won, but there’s also the commitment, the hours, the stuff kids don’t get to do because they have practice. Not to mention the body issues that can inevitably arise when you’re talking about young girls pushing themselves while they’re still developing in every sense of the word.

About Emma’s recreational skating, she told HuffPost Live: “If she chooses to be competitive with it then I’ll support it. I love skating and if that’s the path she chooses then I’ll totally support it, but I know I can’t push her because I know what it takes and it has to come from her.”

Spoken like a true role model — both on and off the ice.

Image via Sarah Bernard

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