Today Olympic skating champion-turned-author, Kristi Yamaguchi, made an appearance at The Rink in Downtown Burbank, to the delight of some local school children.
Yamaguchi’s original flight from Oakland got cancelled, but she hopped on another one and arrived shortly before noon at The Rink. Her first duty was to pose for photos and do interviews with the media. Yamaguchi was articulate and gracious. Not a hint that a flight delay had put the event almost an hour behind schedule.
The 1992 Olympic women’s singles gold medalist, told reporters she was there not only to share her passion for skating but reading as well. She’s written two children’s books both New York Times bestsellers: “Dream Big, Little Pig!” and “It’s A Big World, Little Pig!”
Yamaguchi said she wants to encourage kids to set goals and “… dream big.” Her children’s book are “… about never giving up on your dream.” The mother of two daughters, said she was “… excited to be here” to share with the kids and “just have fun with them.”
Also, the two-time World Figure Skating Champion was there to promote literacy in schools. In 1996, she founded Always Dream Foundation and one of its goals is to promote early childhood literacy.
Next, Yamaguchi took to the ice rink to skate with some students from Joaquin Miller Elementary School and Ralph Emerson Elementary in the Burbank Unified School District.
Many of the students were ice skating for the first time. They were fearless, some struggled around the ring on wobbly skates, while others used the assistance of the orange Bobby the Seal skating aids. Yamaguchi gave pointers to students at all levels.
A standout was 10 year-old Kyon Mirzakhanian. The Emerson student has had almost three years of ice skating lessons at the nearby Pickwick Ice arena and his mother, Carolin Mirzakhanian, says he want to be a figure skater. Kyron is already a skilled skater and able to do some fancy spins on the ice.
Then there were spunky newbies like 8 year-old, Ellen Petrosyan, of Miller Elementary. In a very short time, Ellen was scurrying around the rink under her own power. Her mother, Mary Petrosyan, was concerned enough to leave work to come over and check on Ellen. She was relieved to find Ellen, upright on her skates, smiling, and having a good time.
During a skate break, Yamaguchi read from her children’s picture book, “It’s A Big World, Little Pig!”
During a Q&A with the kids, Yamaguchi revealed she is working on a third children’s book, which she expects to be published in 2015.
Also, the students received free skate admission and a picnic lunch courtesy Panera Bread.