As we gear up for tonight’s telecast of the ladies’ figure skating long program, Kristi Yamaguchi, who won gold in 1992, offers insight into the mind of a skater on the Olympics’ biggest night. (Read the rest of Kristi’s interview here.) Who’s watching tonight? Are you ready to be dazzled? Get it? BE-DAZZLED? Come back for our PopWatch on Ice recap tomorrow morning.
EW: How do you focus? On the day of competition, you’re just kind of zoned out. You’re just trying to create a bubble around you and conserve your energy and just be as positive as you can. It’s such a mind game once you’re there. If you’re not prepared physically it’s one thing, but if you’re not prepared mentally, it’s gonna be really tough.
Do you just need to decide that it’s going to go well? Absolutely. So many negatives pop into your head. It’s just negative negative, oh my gosh, what if I do this, what if this happens, what if I get tired…You just have to purge all of that from your head and think back to your training and keep reassuring yourself.
Psych-up tunes? There was one song I would listen to on my Walkman — we didn’t have iPods back then! Right before I walked over to the arena to complete my long program, I listened to “There Will Never Be Another Tonight,” by Bryan Adams. So that was kind of my anthem song at the Olympics. It wasn’t like he was my favorite or anything, but that song… it worked to pump myself up. It’s so literal, I can’t top it. As far as current songs, the one that gets me going is the Black Eyed Peas. [sings] [EW: Oh my god Kristi Yamaguchi is singing into the phone right now] “Tonight’s gonna be a good night….” That probably would be my first go-to song.
What happens if you stumble? I think once you miss something, it can be a wakeup call for you to snap to it and focus and maybe try a little harder. That’s hopefully how you train and prepare for situations like that. But sometimes you’re just not feeling it, and you miss something and then you’re on pins and needles the whole time. You’re just hoping you don’t make another mistake.
Does morale change if skaters start falling? It depends on the individual skater, but you try not to worry about what everyone else is gonna do. You train yourself to perform a certain way. It’s kind of cliché, but it’s really true in figure skating. It’s tough when you see a tough night like that. You want to see everyone skate well, you want to see everyone fighting. It makes everything more exciting.