How Kristi Yamaguchi’s Trailblazing Win Led to Her Own Barbie Doll

Originally appeared on E! Online

Kristi Yamaguchi left France with more than just a gold medal.

The figure skater also became the first Asian American woman ever to win at the Winter Olympics. But she didn't step on the ice 32 years ago expecting to make history.

"At 20, it was kind of overwhelming, like, 'Oh, wow, what just happened?'" Kristi told E! News in an exclusive interview. "I remember feeling the incredible support and the pride from the Asian American community."

But while the 52-year-old has cemented a prolific legacy in the three decades since that iconic moment, winning gold at the 1992 Winter Olympics remains a moment that stands out—for her and Olympic history. And now it's a moment immortalized forever. Kristi now has her very own Barbie doll—donning her black leotard with dazzling gold accents and her black and red bouquet—as part of Mattel's Inspiring Women series for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

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"It was surreal to see the doll finished," she recalled. "It's like, 'Wow, that's my 20-year-old self.'"

In reaching this achievement, she couldn't help but reflect on other pioneers, like the late Anna May Wong, the first Asian American actress, who was honored with a doll last year.

"Looking back," the Dream Big, Little Pig! author explained, "I have a greater appreciation for the generations before me, who paved the way for that to be able to happen."

Kristi Yamaguchi, 1992 Winter Olympics, Barbie Doll Split
David Madison/Getty Images/Mattel

"It's incredible to have the opportunity to inspire other young girls out there," she continued. "With all the challenges they face and the things they overcome, having role models out there where they can think, 'Hey, if they can overcome it, if they can have a big dream, so can I.'"

Kristi knows this experience first-hand as she's previously reflected on bringing her Dorothy Hamill Barbie doll to the rink as a child, hoping to one day follow in the famed Olympian's footsteps.

Kristi Yamaguchi, 1992 Winter Olympics, Barbie Doll Split 2
ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP via Getty Images/Mattel

But her doll wasn't just a toy or decoration—it was motivation.

"As a 6-year-old, there was something meaningful to me about having Dorothy's doll next to me as I would jump, fall and pick myself back up again," Kristi recently wrote in an essay for USA Today. "She was there for me, reminding me of my dream and inspiring me."

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