Celebrity Names Blog

Kristi Yamaguchi Talks Naming Her Daughters -- and Poppy the Pig

Kristi Yamaguchi Talks Naming Her Daughters -- and Poppy the Pig
Cindy Barrymore/Fame Pictures

Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi took our breath away on the ice and later became a dancing queen, winning the disco ball on Dancing with the Stars. Now, the 39-year-old superstar is adding author to her credits with the release of the children’s book Dream Big, Little Pig. NameCandy.com caught up with the busy mom of two -- who will be reading the book at the Easter Egg Roll at the White House on Monday -- to talk names.

Coming up with the perfect name for the main character in her new book -- a charming pig named Poppy who’s trying to find her niche in the world and does so after being introduced to ice skating -- was “like naming a child,” Kristi tells Name Candy. Luckily, the California native, who heads up the Always Dream foundation, had her daughters, Keara Kiyomi Hedican, 7, and Emma Yoshiko Hedican, 5, to provide input.

“I asked Keara and Emma to help me come up with some names that started with ‘P’,” Kristi says of the pig-naming process. “We had several names, but Keara came up with Poppy and wanted that one. I liked the name and the playfulness of it. My editor did, too.”

The flower name, which hasn’t been on the popular name list in the U.S. though it’s #28 in England and #71 in Scotland, “suits Poppy’s personality so much now,” says Kristi. “She's grown into it!”

Kristi says that when it came to naming her own girls -- with her former NHL star husband Bret Hedican -- both names were last-minute decisions… one of which was made by a TV commentator.

“The whole time I was pregnant with Keara, the name was going to be Olivia if it was a girl,” Kristi tells Name Candy. “Then a week before I gave birth, a friend asked me to consider Keara if it was a girl. It is her niece's name and a great Irish name, which I liked because my hubby is Irish. I was like, ‘Nah -- it's going to be Olivia.’ When she was born, literary in the delivery room, Olivia just didn't fit. My husband and I looked at each other and said, ‘Keara? Yes!’ Kiyomi we picked because of its meaning -- ‘pure beauty’ -- and because I wanted my children to have a Japanese middle name to connect with their heritage.”

As for Emma, “The choices were Hailey or Emma,” Kristi reveals. “She was born at 1:24 am and that night my husband had a hockey game. Nothing was decided yet but during the game, the commentator said, ‘Congratulations to Bret and Kristi for the birth of their daughter Emma!’ Okay, I guess her name is Emma!” Kristi laughs. “I love the name, partly inspired by the movie Emma. Yoshiko, her middle name, is a family name -- it’s my grandmother's name as well as my sister's middle name.

And while Keara got to name the main character in Dream Big, Little Pig, Emma got her own shout out in the book. Poppy’s best friend is a girl named… Emma. “They both feel that they are a big part of the book,” Kristi says.

Do you think the name Poppy -- which has seen some, um, Popularity around the globe -- will grow in use in the U.S.? Share your thoughts below -- or just weigh in on all things Kristi!



Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

April 23, 2011 8:17 PM
By JB (not verified)

Great story. Isn't i interesting that in a previous children's book about a pig, the title animal is named Olivia -- the name Kristi DIDN'T choose for her first daughter!

April 23, 2011 9:06 PM
By Alice (not verified)

kristi has really turned out to be an inspirational woman. cheers to her - emma, keara and poppy.

April 28, 2011 10:17 AM
By nedibes (not verified)

What is up with all the spam?

Funny Kristi Yamaguchi name story...my last name is another Japanese name beginning with Yama- and I was in college in the midwest when Kristi was at the height of her Olympic fame. Back then people frequently substituted Yamaguchi for my name, and I was once introduced to the Board of Trustees of the university as (myname) Yamaguchi. When I got up to speak, I started by saying "actually, it's "myname Yama-mylastname"; Kristi Yamaguchi." There was some laughter, and I thought I'd cleared it up. But after that, one of the trustees always called me Kristi :).

April 29, 2011 7:40 AM
By namelover (not verified)

Okay, the spam is starting to annoy me.

I wanted to say that it's funny to me how different her sibset would have been if it had been her runner-up names, Hailey and Olivia. Completely different vibe than Emma and Kiara!

May 6, 2011 9:42 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

"Okay, I guess her name is Emma!” Kristi laughs. “I love the name, partly inspired by the movie Emma.”"

Not by the Jane Austen novel, Emma, upon which the movie is based...

June 13, 2012 2:42 AM
By Arthur van der Vant (not verified)

As a pairs team, Yamaguchi and Galindo were unusual in that they were both accomplished singles skaters, which allowed them to consistently perform difficult elements like side by side Triple Flip jumps, which are still more difficult than side by side jumps performed by current top international pairs teams.

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