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Galindo to enter San Jose Sports Hall of Fame

U.S. champion to be honored in city where greatest triumph took place

Rudy Galindo, a U.S. champion as a singles and a pairs skater, will be inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame in November.
Rudy Galindo, a U.S. champion as a singles and a pairs skater, will be inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame in November. (Laura Galindo Black)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(09/01/2011) - This November, two-time U.S. pairs champions Kristi Yamaguchi and Rudy Galindo will be inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame along with Olympic volleyball coach Art Lambert, NFL quarterback Dan Pastorini, and former Major League Baseball Commissioner and U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman Peter Ueberroth. Yamaguchi and Galindo, who in addition to stellar singles careers were also world junior pairs champions, join skaters and fellow Bay Area residents Peggy Fleming and Brian Boitano in the hall of fame.

Galindo, the 1996 U.S. men's champion and world bronze medalist, says he's excited to be sharing the special event with Yamaguchi, an Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion.

"Sometimes when people come up to me they don't even mention my singles skating," Galindo, 41, said. "They tell me how much they enjoying watching Kristi and me skate."

After living in Reno, Nev., for a decade, Galindo returned to Northern California four years ago, living in Oakland for about a year and then moving back to his hometown of San Jose.

"It means a lot to be back in San Jose," Galindo said. "I live closer to the rink now than I did when I lived in the trailer, about a mile away.

"The rink I trained at (now known as Sharks Ice San Jose) is where I coach."

Galindo coaches six days a week, often starting around 6:30 a.m. Much of his free time is spent with his beloved Yorkie, Hazel, and watching reality TV on E! and Bravo. ("Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and "The Real Housewives" series are two of his favorites.)

Hazel, apparently, also likes skating.

"When I was training in Lake Tahoe and I was the only skater on the ice, she used to run on the ice and chase me," Galindo said.

Alas, Hazel will not get to attend the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame festivities in November, but Boitano and Fleming are expected to welcome the new inductees. Galindo sees it as an affirmation of the great skating talent that has come out of Northern California.

"I've had special moments of my life in San Jose," said Galindo, whose gold-medal-winning performance at the 1996 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose is considered one of the most thrilling and emotional free skates in history. "I feel I'll always be engrained in San Jose. It's my life. After I'm gone, 50 to 100 years from now, I'll still be ingrained in San Jose. It is me."

Galindo has heard that some of his students may appear in a video that will be shown at the induction ceremony. He is excited to once again be part of the Northern California skating scene, one that is on the rise.

"There are some little ones coming up from this area," he said. "All my little ones are doing well and winning."

Among his students is the junior pairs team of Nick Barsi-Rhyne and Cali Fujimoto, whom he team teaches with Tracy Prussack. The team won Skate San Francisco last weekend and were presented with the Hickox Award by Boitano.

Galindo is looking forward to the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which will be held Jan. 22-29 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, the same arena where he made history. He's been back in the arena many times since 1996 -- most notably performing with Champions on Ice -- so he does not expect to feel butterflies.

But he knows it will be special.

"It will be cool to see a national event coming back there, and I can sit in the stands and watch. That will be really fun," he said.

He's also hoping to spend some time at the boards as coach to Barsi-Rhyne and Fujimoto, who will try to qualify in junior pairs.

One dream Galindo hopes to see fulfilled during the U.S. Championships is induction to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. His name has been on the ballot previously, but he's keeping his fingers crossed that this will be the time he gets the necessary votes.

"It would be on the top of the honor list," he said. "If I do get nominated and inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, that will be one of the last checks on my bucket list."