Rudy Galindo thriving as a coach

Former U.S. champion finds you can go home again

Rudy Galindo and student Allison Mai, a novice ladies competitor.
Rudy Galindo and student Allison Mai, a novice ladies competitor. (courtesy of Rudy Galindo)


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By Lois Elfman, special to
(08/20/2009) - When Champions on Ice ended in 2007, tour veteran Rudy Galindo had offers to skate in Europe, but as much as he enjoyed the spotlight, he knew he wanted to pursue another avenue. Today, you can find the former U.S. men's champion and world bronze medalist back home in San Jose, Calif., teaching full-time at the same rink, Logitech Ice Arena, where he practiced en route to his memorable performances at the 1996 U.S. Championships.

"I totally love coaching," says Galindo, who also won two U.S. senior pairs titles with Kristi Yamaguchi as well as world junior titles in singles and pairs. He coached part-time and did choreography while he was competing. "There are rewards in coaching you just don't get performing. You teach somebody a triple, and they feel it's never going to happen. Then my little Allison Mai [a novice ladies competitor] landed her first triple Salchow. It's the biggest thing. It's like a gold medal."

Galindo and his sister/former coach Laura Galindo-Black, her husband and two children relocated to Reno, Nev., from California shortly after Galindo turned pro. Galindo-Black gave up her own promising coaching career because there simply was no figure skating scene. For several years, Galindo was able to practice at a local rink that mostly catered to hockey and public sessions but that closed several years ago. When he decided he wanted to make a commitment to coaching, he knew the time had come to move back to Northern California.

About a year and a half ago, he settled in Oakland and moved into a beautiful loft but soon found himself commuting to San Jose every day. Then, despite an elaborate security system, his loft was robbed. That was it-Galindo decided it was time to move back to San Jose, where he, his sister and late brother had grown up.

"All the students I had in Oakland, I told them, 'I'm not going back to Oakland to teach. You've got to come to San Jose.' They all said, 'Okay, we'll go to San Jose,'" Galindo says. He even has students coming twice a week from Sacramento, two and a half hours away.

Galindo-Black, husband Andy Black and kids Tyler, 10, and Marina, 9, still live in Reno. They sold their home and moved into Galindo's old house, which is bigger and has "in-law quarters" on the property where Rudy and Laura's mother lives.

"They love raising their kids in Reno," says Galindo, who has always been close to his niece and nephew. "They have great baseball teams there, and Tyler loves baseball...He's only 10, and they want him to be part of the 12-year-old team. That's how good he is. Marina is doing gymnastics and hip-hop dancing."

Galindo has students of all ages -- ranging from pre-preliminary to senior ladies. He even has a little pairs team. He's on the ice; located five minutes from his loft, at 6 a.m. Logitech has four ice surfaces and is a beautiful facility.

Galindo knows he turned pro at the right time and totally appreciates all the wonderful opportunities he had. Most of his costumes, which he designed himself, are in storage in Galindo-Black's attic. His last performance was in October 2008, and during rehearsals, he found himself missing his students.

"I said, 'This is the last one,'" he says. "There are a lot of great memories." And some choice mementos, including a gold Rolex, which Champions on Ice executive producer Tom Collins gave him to mark Galindo's 10th year on tour.

Galindo had two hip replacements in 2004 but returned to skating without a problem. He says his hips feel great, but they're noisy. He used to say they sounded like birds chirping when he jumped.

"My skaters, when we're training in the gym, I'll do some squats with weights, and you hear it," he says. "They say, 'Oh, it's extra loud today.'"

As the years passed from his 1996 U.S. free skate that garnered a standing ovation and left many in the audience in tears, Galindo found himself recognized less and less. But it is like the old days being in San Jose.

"Everywhere I go -- from Target to Trader Joe's -- I hear, 'Psst, the skater,'" Galindo says. "They stop me and say, 'You're Rudy!' I forgot about that. People looking down the aisles at me."