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Rudy Galindo - United States Men's and Pairs Figure Skating Champion

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Rudy Galindo won the US National Men's Figure Skating title in San Jose Arena in 1996

Rudy Galindo won the US National Men's Figure Skating title in San Jose Arena in 1996

Photo by Otto Greule Jr. - Getty Images

Pairs and Singles Figure Skating Champion and World Figure Skating Medalist:

Rudy Galindo's figure skating career is unique since he won the U.S. title in BOTH pair skating and in men's singles. He also won bronze at the 1996 World Figure Skating Championships.

He won the US pair skating title with his pair skating partner Kristi Yamaguchi two consecutive times, in 1989 and 1990. He also won the men's Junior World figure skating title in 1987. Also, with Yamaguchi, he won the 1988 Junior World pair skating title.

Date and Place of Birth:

Val Joe "Rudy" Galindo was born on September 7, 1969 in San Jose, California to Jess and Margaret Galindo. He continues to call San Jose, California home.

About Galindo's Name:

Rudy is Galindo's nickname. Sometimes his nickname is spelled "Rudi." For example, Galindo's name on the US Figure Skating's National Pair Championship trophy for 1989 and 1990 reads Rudi Galindo, but his name on the National Men's Championship trophy for 1996 says Rudy Galindo.

Family:

Galindo's father died of a heart attack in 1993; a year later, his older brother died. His older sister, Laura Galindo-Black, was also a figure skater and was his coach when he won the 1996 US men's figure skating title and medaled at the 1996 World Figure Skating Championships. The Galindo family lived in a trailer park in the San Jose area. Rudy could not afford a car, so he rode his bike to and from the ice rink.

About the Young Yamaguchi-Galindo Pair Team:

When Rudy was thirteen years old, he decided he wanted to do pairs because his older sister was skating pairs at the time. He looked around the rink he skated at in Dublin, California, and decided that eleven year old Kristi Yamaguchi would make a perfect pair skating partner for him. He told his coaches and parents about his desire to skate with Kristi and soon his desire to do pairs became a reality.

The young pair team was homeschooled and trained about eight hours a day. Their schedule included at least two hours of patch practice (figures) each day, at least two hours of freestyle, then an hour of pairs, followed by two more hours of pair skating at another rink.

The pair team was coached by Jim Hulick and John A.W. Nicks.

"Opposite" Jumper:

Most figure skaters jump in the counter-clockwise direction. Rudy Galindo is what some figure skaters call an "opposite" jumper, since his jumps rotate clockwise. He and Kristi Yamaguchi's side-by-side jump and spins were done in a mirror type format because Rudy's jumps rotated in a different direction than Kristi's. They were both strong free skaters, so even as young children, they did mirrored triple jumps.

Partnership Ended:

In 1990, Kristi Yamaguchi was advised to leave pair skating since she was doing so well in singles. She went on to become the 1992 Olympic Figure Skating Champion.

Struggles:

Several sad things happened in Rudy Galindo's life. In 1989, his coach, Jim Hulick, died of an AIDS related illness. Then, his father died of a heart attack in 1993, and then his older brother, George, died of AIDS in 1994. Another coach, Ricky Inglesi, died of AIDS in 1995.

After his partnership with Yamaguchi ended, for a period, Galindo did not do well in singles competition.

Comeback and Victories!:

At the 1996 US National Figure Skating Championships which took place in Rudy Galindo's hometown, San Jose, California, Galindo put on an incredible performance and won the US men's title. He became the oldest male figure skater to win that title in seventy years. Another victory followed when he won the bronze medal at the 1996 World Figure Skating Championships.

Personal Life:

In Christine Brennan's 1996 book Inside Edge: A Revealing Journey Into the Secret World of Figure Skating, Rudy Galindo revealed to the world that he is gay. By doing that, he became the first openly gay figure skating champion in the United States. His autobiography, Icebreaker, was published in 1997.

Professional Skating Career:

Rudy Galindo skated with Champions On Ice from 1997 through 2007. In 2006, he was a celebrity judge in Skating's Next Star, a reality ice skating show hosted by Kristi Yamaguchi.

Galindo lives and coaches at four different ice arenas in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of his ice skating students is Kristi Yamaguchi's daughter, Emma. He also coaches pair skating and his students qualified for the 2012 US National Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, California.

Honors:

In 2011, Rudy Galindo was nominated to receive recognition for the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. He was also was recognized in San Jose and plans were made for him to be inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame.

From Rudy Galindo:

"Love and Life." That's Rudy Galindo's motto.

He recommends that if a skater is passionate about figure skating, to "go for it and to continue whatever you are doing to follow that passion." He advises pair skaters to stay together through thick and thin.

"Skating is beautiful," says Rudy Galindo. "I love to coach it, I love to watch it; I love everyiting about it!"

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