Kristi Yamaguchi to fellow skater Karen Chen: 'America is rooting for you'

Kristi Yamaguchi may have been a queen on the ice, but she’s no ice queen. 

The 1992 Olympic gold medalist told InStyle that she gave fellow skater Karen Chen some heartwarming advice before the 18-year-old heads to the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

“The one major thing that I’ve told her is that for the Olympics you have to learn to insulate yourself from the pressure,” Yamaguchi said. “I’ve always tried to keep her thinking positively because it’s easy to let doubts creep into your head before a big performance like this.”

The 46-year-old noted that with the rise of social media, “it’s easy to feel like you are being constantly judged.” But she assured Chen that despite the critics, many more want to see her succeed. 

61 PHOTOS
Kristi Yamaguchi through the years
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Kristi Yamaguchi through the years
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JULY 1989: Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi poses for a portrait during the 1989 United States Olympic Festival held during July 1989 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) Die Eiskunstl�ferin Kristi Yamaguchi, USA, auf dem Eis. Undatiertes Foto. (Photo by HJS-Pressefoto/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - CIRCA 1989: Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States competes in the 1989 U.S. Figure Skating Championships circa 1989 at the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JULY 1989: Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi poses for a portrait during the 1989 United States Olympic Festival held during July 1989 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - CIRCA 1989: Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States competes in the 1989 U.S. Figure Skating Championships circa 1989 at the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - CIRCA 1989: Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States competes in the 1989 U.S. Figure Skating Championships circa 1989 at the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Unspecified: Kristi Yamaguchi skating. (Photo by ABC via Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - CIRCA 1989: Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States competes in the 1989 U.S. Figure Skating Championships circa 1989 at the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 17: Kristi Yamaguchi (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 17: Kristi Yamaguchi (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1990: Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States competes in a figure skating competition circa 1990. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
SEATTLE - JULY 1990: Kristi Yamaguchi of the USA celebrates her gold medal during the awards ceremony for the Women's Individual figure skating event of the 1990 Goodwill Games held July 20 - August 5, 1990 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
OAKLAND - 1991: Kristi Yamaguchi of the USA skates in the Skate America competition held in 1991 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California. Yamaguchi won the silver medal in the Women's Individual figure skating event. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1992: Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States competes in a figure skating competition circa 1992. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - CIRCA 1991: Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States competes in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships circa 1991 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
ALBERTVILLE, FRANCE: Japanese figure skater Midori Ito performs during the women's original program at the Winter Olympic Games 19 February 1992 in Albertville. Kristi Yamaguchi from the United States won the gold medal in front of Ito (silver) and Nancy Kerrigan (bronze) from the United States. AFP PHOTO/ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
ALBERTVILLE, FRANCE: Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi from the United States smiles as she performs during the women's free program at the Winter Olympic Games 21 February 1992 in Albertville. Yamaguchi won the gold medal in front of Japanese Midori Ito (silver) and Nancy Kerrigan from the United States. AFP PHOTO/ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
ALBERTVILLE, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 21: Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States shows her gold medal following the Women's Singles event of the Figure Skating competition of the 1992 Winter Olympic Games held in Albertville, France on February 21, 1992. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
ALBERTVILLE, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 21: Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States competes in the Women's Singles event of the Figure Skating competition of the 1992 Winter Olympic Games held in Albertville, France on February 21, 1992. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
ALBERTVILLE, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 21: Kristi Yamaguchi (C) from the United States, her compatriot Nancy Kerrigan (L) and Japanese Midori Ito smile as they pose on the podium after the medals' ceremony of the women's figure skating event at the Winter Olympic Games 21 February 1992 in Albertville. Yamaguchi won the gold medal in front of Ito (silver) and Nancy Kerrigan (bronze). (Photo credit should read VINCENT AMALVY/AFP/Getty Images)
ALBERTVILLE, FRANCE: Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi from the United States performs her free program at the Winter Olympic Games 21 February 1992 in Albertville. Yamaguchi won the gold medal in front of Japanese Midori Ito (silver) and compatriot Nancy Kerrigan (bronze). AFP PHOTO/ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. ice skater Kristi Yamaguchi performs during the opening ceremony of the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympic Games February 8, 2002. Athletes from 77 countries will participate in the XIX winter games in Utah February 8-24. REUTERS/Kimimasa Mayama KM/CRB
TORONTO, ON - CIRCA 1993: Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States competes in the 1993 Durasoft Colors Challenge of Champions in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1993: Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States competes in a figure skating competition circa 1993. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1996: Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States competes in a figure skating competition circa 1996. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 22: Kristi Yamaguchi (left), Paul Wylie and Katrina Witt in basketball shootout at the All Star Cafe. (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi performs on the skating rink in Rockefeller Center in New York City at the 66th annual tree lighting ceremony 02 December. US First Lady Hillary Clinton lit the tree in a ceremony which also saw performances by Garth Brooks and Jewel. AFP PHOTO Matt CAMPBELL (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images)
Olympic Figure Skating Gold Medallists Tara Lipinski (L) And Kristi Yamaguchi Have A Laugh During A Question And Answer Period With Students At John Adams Middle School January 6, 2000, In Los Angeles. Lipinski And Yamaguchi, Who Perform With Stars On Ice, Are On Hand To Support The Skating Show's Take Charge Of Education Seminar During Their 63-City U.S. Tour. The Programs At The Schools Encourage Students To Stay In School, Continuing Education And Setting Goals In Life. (Photo By Chris Martinez/Getty Images)
Kristi Yamaguchi performing as part of the Target Stars on Ice at the San Jose Arena in San Jose Calif. on January 9th, 2000. Image By: Tim Mosenfelder/ImageDirect
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1997: Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States competes in a figure skating competition circa 1997. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 15: Kristi Yamaguchi attending party at the Penthouse. (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Tom Arnold & Kristi Yamaguchi during Nickelodeon's 10th Annual Kids Choice Awards at Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 22: Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi signs autographs on her bobble-head dolls for fans on November 22, 2002 in San Francisco, California. Yamaguchi signed the dolls to help raise money for her 'Always Dream' foundation. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 05: Kristi Yamaguchi at the USFA presentation of 'A Skating Tribute: The Legacy of the 1961 U.S - World Figure Skating Team' at Madison Square Garden on October 05, 2001 to benefit the USFSA Memorial Fund, created in memory of those lost in the 1961 plane crash that claimed the lives of the entire team to the World Championships in Prague - (Photo by David LEFRANC/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Kristi Yamaguchi (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 17: Kristi Yamaguchi attends Us Weekly Magazine's Hot Hollywood 2008 Party at Beso on April 17, 2008 in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by ANDREAS BRANCH/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - OCTOBER 06: ***EXCLUSIVE*** (L-R) Figure Skaters Rosalynn Summers, Kristi Yamaguchi and Katia Gordeeva pose for photos during arrivals at the Frosted Pink Presented by sanofi-aventis and Wachovia Putting Women's Cancer on Ice at the Barker Hangar on October 6, 2007 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Frosted Pink)
SANTA MONICA, CA - OCTOBER 06: ***EXCLUSIVE*** (L-R) Figure Skaters Rosalynn Summers, Kristi Yamaguchi and Katia Gordeeva perform during the Frosted Pink Presented by sanofi-aventis and Wachovia Putting Women's Cancer on Ice at the Barker Hangar on October 6, 2007 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Frosted Pink)
SANTA MONICA, CA - OCTOBER 06: ***EXCLUSIVE*** Singer Anastacia poses with figure Skaters Rosalynn Summers, Kristi Yamaguchi and Katia Gordeeva during arrivals at the Frosted Pink Presented by sanofi-aventis and Wachovia Putting Women's Cancer on Ice at the Barker Hangar on October 6, 2007 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Frosted Pink)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 06: Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi attends Nanette Lepore Fall 2008 during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at the Promenade, Bryant Park on February 6, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/WireImage)
WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 18: American figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi performs during 'Musselman's Applesauce The Music of Seal on Ice' at the Verizon Center December 18, 2007 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 26: DANCING WITH THE STARS - Rehearsals - An 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. She teams up with Mark Ballas, who returns for his second season. Mark was previously paired with Sabrina Bryan. 'Dancing with the Stars' returns MONDAY, MARCH 17 (8:00-9:30 p.m., ET) on ABC. (Photo by Adam Larkey/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 19: DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 610' - After ten weeks of entertaining drama, camaraderie and dazzling performances, Kristi Yamaguchi, Jason Taylor and Cristian de la Fuente have broken away from the pack and earned the right for a chance to be crowned champion of 'Dancing with the Stars.' The three finalists had their last opportunity to impress the judges and viewers in the two-part season finale, beginning MONDAY, MAY 19 (8:00-9:05 p.m., ET), and concluding TUESDAY, MAY 20 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET). For the first time, the teams faced off dancing the Cha Cha Cha to an extended version of the same song. Each team danced to a section of the song before stepping aside for the next team to showcase their routine - giving judges and viewers a chance to compare the couples alongside each other. In addition, Kristi, Jason and Cristian showed us what they've got in the ever popular Freestyle routine - a fan favorite. (Photo by Kelsey McNeal/ABC via Getty Images)
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - SEPTEMBER 16: Kristi Yamaguchi attends the Life 101 series at Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center at Nova University on September 16, 2008 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 20: DANCING WITH THE STARS - Episode 610A - After ten weeks of entertaining drama, camaraderie and dazzling performances, Kristi Yamaguchi and her professional partner Mark Ballas, were crowned champion of 'Dancing with the Stars,' in the two-part season finale, beginning MONDAY, MAY 19 (8:00-9:02 p.m., ET), and concluding TUESDAY, MAY 20 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET). (Photo by Michael Desmond/ABC via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - FEBRUARY 13: Kristi Yamaguchi attends Heart Truth Red Dress Fashion Show at The Tents on February 13, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by JOE SCHILDHORN/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 16: Olympic skater Kristi Yamaguchi at the 'Kaleidoscope' rehearsal presented by sanofi-aventis US airing nationally on Thanksgiving Day on FOX at Verizon Center on November 16, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Edge Health)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 06: Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi attends 'Dancing Under the Stars' on May 6, 2009 in in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 29: Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi attends the Dizzy Feet Foundation's Inaugural Celebration of Dance at The Kodak Theater on November 29, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Dizzy Feet Foundation)
HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 29: Kristi Yamaguchi attends Dizzy Feet Foundation's 'Celebration of Dance' at the Kodak Theatre on November 29, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 01: Kristi Yamaguchi attends 'Dancing With The Stars' 200th Episode at Boulevard 3 on November 1, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
Kristi Yamaguchi signs copies of her children's book 'Dream Big, Little Pig!' at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on March 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Duffy-Marie Arnoult/WireImage)
TODAY -- Pictured: Kristi Yamaguchi appears on NBC News' TODAY show (Photo by Heidi Gutman/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15: Former figure skating champions Scott Hamilton and Kristi Yamaguchi of USA attend the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game between Russia and USA on day eight of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by John Berry/Getty Images)
DANCING WITH THE STARS: ALL-STARS - 'Episode 1501' - From former champions to fan favorites, including a celebrity voted in by fans, the All-Star cast along with their professional partners returned to the ballroom on the season premiere of 'Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars,' MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. All 13 couples hit the stage performing either the Cha Cha or the Foxtrot to impress the judges and viewers at home. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images) KRISTI YAMAGUCHI
Kristi Yamaguchi, former Olympic skater and author of 'Ts's a Big World Little Pig' at the Book Expo America show at the Javitz Center in New York. (Photo by James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 28: Kristi Yamaguchi arrives at The California Museum on October 28, 2015 in Sacramento, California. (Photo by Trisha Leeper/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 25: Kristi Yamaguchi attends AOL Build at Build Studio on January 25, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jenny Anderson/Getty Images)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - 'Episode 2508' - The six remaining couples are prepping for a special night of dancing, in which they will perform two numbers - a regular couples dance and a special trio dance, in which one past season winner or finalist will be paired with each couple to compete, on 'Dancing with the Stars,' live, MONDAY, NOV. 6 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EST), on The ABC Television Network. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images) KRISTI YAMAGUCHI
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 18: Kristi Yamaguchi poses for a photograph during the Sierra Club's 125th Anniversary Trail Blazer's Ball at Innovation Hangar on May 18, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Sierra Club)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 13: World Champion Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi Skates At Rockefeller Center at The Rink at Rockefeller Center on January 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
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“I told Karen, ‘America is rooting for you! You can’t forget that—even with all the pressure that you’re feeling right now,’” Yamaguchi said. “I’m so proud of her because she has overcome a lot of obstacles to get to this point.”

Chen has faced some serious medical issues and other challenges on her journey to the Olympics. She detailed those struggles in her autobiography, Finding the Edge, which features a foreword written by Yamaguchi. In particular, Chen wrote that she’s been dealing with a “chronic, and at times debilitating, back condition.” But she said she turned her pain into a lesson about life. 

“Initially, my back pain was scary and I dealt with a lot of fear. But my only choice was to figure out a way to overcome the fear. I tried avoiding it — which didn’t work,” the teen wrote. “It was only after I embraced it that I found a breakthrough. My back condition forced me to strengthen other areas of my body, which made me more powerful overall. In my weakness, I found strength.”

Yamaguchi also talked to InStyle about becoming the first Asian-American woman to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics.

“It’s funny because at the time I didn’t even know I was the first until it was reported on the news,” she said. “It’s cool though! I love when young skaters come up to me and say that I’ve inspired them to take up the sport.”

Indeed, Yamaguchi’s accomplishments made an enormous impression at the time on young Asian-Americans, who rarely saw themselves represented in sports or entertainment. Writer Nicole Chung penned a piece for The New York Times in 2016 talking about just how much Yamaguchi meant to her and to a generation of children of color. 

“I’m far from the only kid who fell hard for Kristi Yamaguchi, world and Olympic champion, in the early 1990s. But if you’re an Asian-American woman of a certain age, chances are Yamaguchi might also have been one of the first Asian-American women you saw being publicly celebrated,” Chung wrote. “What many Asian-American kids felt when we watched her and, later, Michelle Kwan in the limelight was more than appreciation, more than fandom. It was recognition — all the more powerful because that feeling was often in such short supply.”

7 PHOTOS
Kristi Yamaguchi and Nancy Kerrigan together
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Kristi Yamaguchi and Nancy Kerrigan together
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - CIRCA 1991: Figure Skaters (L-R) Kristi Yamaguchi, Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan and Tonia Kwiatkowski poses of this photograph at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships circa 1991 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
ALBERTVILLE, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 21: Kristi Yamaguchi (C) from the United States, her compatriot Nancy Kerrigan (L) and Japanese Midori Ito smile as they pose on the podium after the medals' ceremony of the women's figure skating event at the Winter Olympic Games 21 February 1992 in Albertville. Yamaguchi won the gold medal in front of Ito (silver) and Nancy Kerrigan (bronze). (Photo credit should read VINCENT AMALVY/AFP/Getty Images)
ALBERTVILLE, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 21: Nancy Kerrigan (USA) (left), Kristi Yamaguchi (USA) (center), and Midori Ito (JPN) (right) pose following the medal ceremony for Women's Singles event of the Figure Skating competition of the 1992 Winter Olympic Games held in Albertville, France on February 21, 1992. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
E 355908 003 14Aug99 Mastons Mills, Massachusettes Skater Paul Wylie And Bride Kate Presbrey Are Surrounded By Friends Who Also Skate At Their Reception Party In Marstons Mills, Ma Following Their Wedding Saturday, August 14, 1999. Friends Include, From Left, Dick Button, Kristi Yamaguchi, Christopher Bowan, Dennis Petrov, Nancy Kerrigan, Kyoko Ina, Ekaterian Gordeeva, And Illia Kulik. (Photo By Stephen Rose/Getty Images)
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - DECEMBER 10: (L-R) Kristi Yamaguchi and Nancy Kerrigan attend the press conference for The Caesars Tribute: A Salute to the Golden Age of American Skating at Caesars Hotel & Casino December 10, 2010 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Bill McCay/WireImage)
(L-R) Kristi Yamaguchi and Nancy Kerrigan attend the press conference for The Caesars Tribute: A Salute to the Golden Age of American Skating at Caesars Hotel & Casino December 10, 2010 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Bill McCay/WireImage)
(L-R) Kristi Yamaguchi and Nancy Kerrigan attend the press conference for The Caesars Tribute: A Salute to the Golden Age of American Skating at Caesars Hotel & Casino December 10, 2010 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Photo by Bill McCay/WireImage)
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  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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