“He absolutely is a fighter and he approaches everything and every challenge ahead of him with such positive attitude,” Yamaguchi told ET. “He doesn’t give up and I think he’s tired -- and I don’t blame him -- of constantly battling something. But, his faith is really strong and he and his wife [Tracie] are just ‘We’re [in] this together’ and ‘Hey, this is just another thing we’re going to get through.’”
“His positivity bleeds into everyone around him, too,” she continued. “He’s not only fighting for himself, but for so many other people out there who have been affected by cancer. He’s an extraordinary person.”
The Olympic gold medalist got candid when asked how the figure skating community has banded together in support of Hamilton in light of his health news. (On Sunday, Yamaguchi was a guest host at Hamilton's star-studded fundraiser in Nashville, Tennessee, benefiting his cancer charity, Scott Hamilton Cares Foundation.)
“We obviously go way back and he knows. I’ve seen him several times this fall and it’s just like, ‘I’m here for you. I’m praying for you. I’m fighting with you and whatever you need, just ask,’” Yamaguchi shared. “He doesn’t hear that just from me, he hears that from everyone around him because he’s so loved and because he lends his time and support to so many people. We all want to be there for him as well.”
Earlier this month, Hamilton opened up to ET about why he’s refusing to give up. "I guess this little guy is going to come back every six years," he said in his exclusive sit-down interview. (The Olympic gold medalist previously battled brain tumors in 2004 and 2010, and overcame testicular cancer in 1997.)
"Worry will not add one hour to my life, as it says in the good book,” Hamilton, 58, said. “I want to love every minute of my life. I'm not going to allow anything -- whether it's this or anything I've had in the past -- throw me off enjoying myself."
That same drive is why Yamaguchi, 45, continues to keep her presence in the figure skating world as strong as it can be. As the host of yearly figure skating TV specials, many of which feature her old friends from the competitive circuit, the mother of two treats the experiences like fun reunions.
“When you go to these shows and see each other, it’s kind of like you’re back out on the road together,” Yamaguchi reminisced.
It’s also a great time of the year to curl up on the couch with loved ones to watch your favorite ice skaters put on a show. On Thanksgiving weekend, the first in a series of Colgate Skating Series specials, hosted by Yamaguchi, begins airing on ABC and will feature iconic skaters like Hamilton, Nancy Kerrigan and Paul Wylie -- some of whom perform with their children.
“These are really the only skating specials that air for figure skating on TV. It’s nice to be a part of them and to continue to lend my voice to the sport,” Yamaguchi says, “and hopefully still get the word out for people to stay interested in our sport.”
Outside of the skating world, Yamaguchi stays busy with her Always Dream Foundation, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, her Tsu.ya activewear line and being a mother to two teenage daughters, both of whom are active in sports.
“My oldest daughter [Keara] is definitely going in her own direction. She’s a hula dancer, as well as a softball and soccer player. Our younger one [Emma] does actually ice-skate, so she’s a pretty avid skater and having fun with that. She also plays soccer and [does] dance as well,” she said with a laugh. “They keep us quite busy! Mom first, and if I have time for the other stuff, then that comes along.”
Kristi Yamaguchi co-hosts the 2016 Musselman’s Apple Sauce Family Skating Tribute with Michael Weiss, airing Sunday at 3 p.m. EST/2 p.m. PST.