The Star: Kristi Yamaguchi
In Olympic Gold medalist and World Champion, Kristi Yamaguchi is one of the most popular and successful figure skaters of our time. Since winning the 1992 Winter Olympics, Yamaguchi retired from competitive skating, performing in numerous television specials and traveling the globe on Stars on Ice tour. Along with her many awards and accomplishments, she is a member of the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. In 1996 she founded the Always Dream Foundation dedicated to fundraising and supporting children’s charities. Yamaguchi is married to Stanley Cup champion and Carolina Hurricanes star Bret Hedican. Together they have two young daughters.
The Dancer: Mark Ballas
* British Juvenile Ballroom and Latin American dance champ
* US Open to the World, British Open to the World and International Open to the World Junior Latin American Champ
* Junior Olympics Gold Medal Winner
* British Open to the World, US Open to the World, International Open to the World twice, United Kingdom, Youth Latin American Dance Champion
Based in: London, England
Status: Not Currently Competing
Mark was born in Houston, Texas to Corky and Shirley Ballas, two of the biggest names in dance. When he was very young, they moved to London, England where he began his performing career. He joined the Italia Conti Academy of Dramatic Arts Associate School at age 4, where his training in acting and singing/dancing began. At age 11, he earned a full-time spot at the Academy. He also earned a full scholarship to the college and won performer of the year in 2005.
Mark has also performed in theater. He played the lead in the musical Copa Cabana, as well as playing roles in Maria de Buenos Aires, The Buddy Holly Musical and at the London Palladium.
His dancing partner, Julianne Hough, and her brother Derek Hough moved to England when they were young and lived with Mark and his parents. There, they were trained by Mark’s parents, Corky and Shirley Ballas. They became close friends and still are to this day.
Mark’s biggest passion is his band “Almost Amy.” Together with his best friend and fellow dancer, Derek Hough, they write and perform all their original music.