Rudy's Name

If it weren't for the nickname that has stayed with him since birth, we might be cheering for Val or Val Joe, instead of Rudy, a name that doesn't appear on his birth certificate! Val came from Rudy's uncle, who passed away when Rudy was three, Joe from another uncle. Later on Rudy became "Rudi" for a few years while he skated pairs with Kristi Yamaguchi. There are still those who spell it that way. For instance, you won't find any articles on Rudy Galindo in his hometown San Jose Mercury News in 1989 and 1990, when he and Kristi won the U.S. National Pairs Championship, but there are over 60 of them citing Rudi Galindo. At 1994 Nationals, when he skated a wonderful long program, his name was announced and appeared as Rudy Val Galindo on the official videotape. He now seems quite comfortable to be Rudy Galindo.

The Champions on Ice biography of Rudy points out that Rudy's name on the USFSA's National Pairs Championship trophy for 1989 and 1990 reads Rudi Galindo, while his name on the National Men's Championship trophy for 1996 says Rudy Galindo. To further complicate the issue of Rudy's name, the 1997 Greenwood Press biographical compilation, Notable Latino Americans: a Biographical Dictionary, lists Rudy's "real" name as Valentin Joseph! The Galindos say it isn't so.

Rudy's prediction

In the June 22, 2000, San Jose Mercury News, teacher Ross Jackson wrote an open letter to the 32 students he taught in eighth-grade history at J.W. Fair School in San Jose in 1983. In their studies about the past that year, his students, among them 13 year old Rudy, anticipated the future and could barely imagine the year 2000, it was so far away. They decided to bury a time capsule to be retrieved in the spring of 2000. With the help of students occupying the same classroom at that time, Jackson unearthed the capsule.  Among the treasures in it were students' photographs and personal letters about the future.

Rudy's words were prophetic: "I love to skate and I love to perform, so if you ever have the chance to see me skate, go for it and you'll be surprised." San Jose watched him and stood behind him in the ensuing years, and he rewarded his home town with a stunning National Championship in 1996, as well as two pairs championships with Kristi Yamaguchi. The rest of us have enjoyed sharing his love of skating and performing ever since.

Rudy's sister and coach

Laura Galindo-Black, without whom...

"One of the great love affairs in American figure skating is that of Rudy and his older sister Laura."

From USA Today, April 5, 2000, "HIV Again Interrupts Galindo's life," by Christine Brennan

"A lot of times Laura and I didn't need to talk to each other when I was on the ice, because unlike anyone else I'd worked with, she could communicate with me just by looking at me. We knew each other so well that each of us could tell what the other was thinking with just a glance. And when we needed to talk, it was always in shorthand...I loved it that Laura let me be myself."

Rudy, from Icebreaker, the Autobiography of Rudy Galindo, Pocket Books, 1997

"Speechless. She's everything. Everything. Love."

Rudy's response to "Laura Galindo," during the word association part of an interview about his book, from Lorrie Kim's Report: "Book Party for Rudy Galindo" held in New York, March 19, 1997

" coach, my sister, my best friend. She plays a lot of roles in my life--and she's the love of my life."

From an article in the Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana), January 28, 2000, "Poetry On Ice...," by Rebecca Coudret (only a few days before Rudy became so ill he had to leave the Champions On Ice Winter Tour)

"I want to live for Laura."

Rudy, in People Magazine, April 17, 2000, "Skater Rudy Galindo Faces AIDS," by Alex Tresniowski, Vicki Sheff-Cahan, and Johnny Dodd

Rudy's nephew and niece

Laura and Andy Black's son, Tyler Thomas Black, was born on December 21, 1998. The lives of the Galindo and Black families were forever changed by this handsome boy who is now a very active and strong-willed six-year-old. 

On April 20, 2000, Tyler was joined by his sister, Marina Jesse Black, whose middle name is after Laura's and Rudy's father (Jess C.). Her arrival brought joy to a difficult period in the Galindo's lives (Rudy's HIV+ diagnosis). She's a real spitfire who does very well at keeping up with her big brother.

Below left, Laura, Marina, and Rudy at the Caesar's Palace skating rink in late 2004. Right, Rudy at the rink in Reno.


Rudy's birthday

Rudy was born on September 7, 1969. If you are into the signs of the Zodiac, he's a Virgo and, so they say, devoted to work, duty, a desire to be of service, and the pursuit of perfection. Virgos are also concerned with physical fitness and health and pay much attention to detail. There are a number of very fine Virgo skaters in addition to Rudy: his idol, John Curry, Nicole Bobek, Michael Chack, Josee Chouinard, Todd Eldredge, Timothy Goebel, Scott Hamilton, Peter Barna, Judy Blumberg, Tai Babilonia, and Marina Anissina (perhaps the inspiration for Rudy's niece's name).
Other notable people born on September 7:
  • Queen Elizabeth I of England [the beginning of things Elizabethan] 1533 
  • Grandma Moses (Anna Mary), Primitive painter (Old Oaken Bucket) 1860
  • Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, Cardiologist, surgeon, artificial heart pioneer 1908
  • Paul Brown, NFL Hall of Fame coach (Cleveland Browns) 1908
  • Elia Kazan, Stage and film director (Streetcar Named Desire), scriptwriter 1909
  • John Shea, U.S. 500/1500 meter speed skater (Olympic gold in 1932) 1910 
  • Anthony Quayle, Actor (Lawrence of Arabia) and director 1913
  • Peter Lawford, Actor (Thin Man, Mrs. Miniver) and Kennedy in-law 1923
  • Sonny Rollins, Jazz musician (saxophonist) 1930
  • Buddy Holly, Early rock 'n roll singer (Peggy Sue, That'll Be the Day) 1936
  • Garrison Keillor, Humorist, writer (Prairie Home Companion) 1942
  • Richard Roundtree, Actor (Shaft, Earthquake) 1942
  • Gloria Gaynor, Disco singer (I Will Survive) 1949
  • Julie Kavner, Actress (Brenda on Rhoda, Marge on Simpsons) 1951
  • Corbin Bernsen, Actor (LA Law) 1954
  • Angie Everhart, Model/actress (Jade, Last Action Hero) 1969
An indirectly skating-related event occurred on September 7, 1979. The Enlightenment and Sports Programming Network, better known as ESPN, made its first cable broadcast.

Rudy's mom

A couple of years ago, Laura's and Rudy's mother, Margaret, moved from San Jose to Reno to be closer to her family. Until then and after Rudy's '96 Nationals win, his mom had remained in the home she shared with her husband, Jess, son, George, and where Laura and Rudy grew up. She now is a big help to Laura and a full time grandmother to Tyler and Marina. Mrs. Galindo, Rudy, and Laura and her family all live within a few blocks of each other. 

Rudy's health

In an article by Christine Brennan that appeared in USA Today on Wednesday, April 5, 2000, Rudy reported that he is living with HIV. When the pneumonia he had been suffering with for the early part of that year failed to respond to treatment as expected, doctors advised that he be tested for HIV. Results showed that he is HIV positive, and he began antiretroviral treatment in March, 2000. He responded quickly and exceptionally well to it and continues to do so four years later. 

Rudy is open and honest, reflective, yet optimistic in the Brennan article. "I've made my mistakes, but I want to tell everyone that 'safe sex' is not an empty slogan. People always think that it can't happen to them, but it can. I didn't want to hide this illness. I didn't want to live a lie. I've always wanted to be truthful." Rudy reaffirmed his love of skating and intention to continue. His physician, Dr. Steven Parker, commented, "He should be able to get back to skating the way he was...It's a new disease today...It's not a death sentence anymore." From Rudy, "I'm enjoying life so much, I'll do anything to survive." He has indeed competed and toured as before--and enjoyed his family to the fullest.

Rudy went back to work on April 6, 2000, rejoining the Champions On Ice Summer Tour and skating throughout except for five performances when niece Marina was born. He then skated a three week stint during that July in "Broadway On Ice" at the Andy Williams Theatre in Branson, Missouri, and competed very successfully during the 2000/2001 professional season, taking a close second in the World Professional Skating Championships in December. He assumed a role as Honorary Co-chairperson of the National Minority AIDS Council and promoted the organization's education campaign on HIV-related anemia. 

Some wonderful journalism about Rudy resulted from his 2000 ordeal, many articles by writers who also covered his 1996 Nationals and Worlds successes. Most of them are cited or linked to full text from the Articles and Rudy In Print pages on the web site. Those by Brennan, Ann Killion (San Jose Mercury News), Randy Harvey (Los Angeles Times), Jere Longman (New York Times), Jo-Ann Barnas (Detroit Free Press), Shana Naomi Krochmal (POZ), and John Trent (Reno Gazette-Journal) are especially eloquent and informative.

Rudy continued to flourish during the 2001/2002 season of touring and exhibitions, including the grueling Champions on Ice Olympic Tour that lasted through mid-August of 2002. Due to a recurring hip problem, he missed 10 performances of the nearly 90 city Tour. However, he was back in November to skate the Elvis (Stojko) Sk8 Tour through Canada, from east (St. John, Newfoundland) to west (Vancouver, BC).

Rudy's hip problem was diagnosed in summer, 2002, as Avascular Necrosis (AVN). The name of the condition describes it--death of the bone (head of the femur) due to lack of circulation. Rudy skated with the deteriorating condition for over a year, completing the long 2002 Olympic Tour, the Elvis Tour in Canada in the Fall, the 2003 Champions On Ice (25th Anniversary) Winter Tour, and the abbreviated Summer Tour through early June. During the latter the hip became increasingly painful, excruciatingly so a short time after the Tour's completion. (The head of the femur in the left hip was fractured and held together only by the hip socket.)

By this time, Rudy had accepted the fact that total hip replacement (THR) was his best option and that he needed to have both hips replaced. Laura had become aware of the ceramic on ceramic technique of total hip replacement that was FDA approved in February of 2003. Use of this product and technique has given hope to young and active people needing hip replacement. They now have the prospect of living lives requiring very little change in their regular activities. This includes athletes. These hip implants wear significantly better and longer, have a decreased chance of dislocation by permitting an optimal range of motion, and are less apt to be affected by osteolytic wear. 

Fortunately, the Galindos were able to find a surgeon in Reno who was experienced with the ceramic on ceramic technique and who shared their optimism about Rudy's ability to continue to skate with artificial hips. Dr. Eric Boyden first operated on Rudy's left hip on September 19, 2003. Six weeks later, on October 30, he operated on the right hip. Rudy started physical therapy immediately after the first surgery, and was on the ice a few weeks later. He  worked hours each day afterward on and off the ice to get into the condition that allowed him to be ready to skate in the 2004 Champions on Ice Tours that began April 3. He got back the triple jumps he was performing before AVN (flip, loop, toe, and salchow, as well as double axels), and can do his shotgun spin. He finished Tour 1 and Tour 2 without missing a performance and pain free. He had no ill effects from performing day in and day out. (In Tour 2, he did two programs, in addition to the introduction and long finale.) 

Rudy started out 2005 with several skating in some Broadway on Ice shows in Florida and Georgia, will be doing Detroit's Winter Blast and Bensenville, Illinois' Dreams On Ice, also in conjunction with a Winter celebration, and will participate in the first annual First Annual Gala of Figure Skating In Harlem, a not-for-profit organization established in 1997 "to provide exciting new educational, cultural and athletic opportunities for girls in the Harlem community through the unique discipline and art of figure skating." After that, he will do the 2005 Champions On Ice Tour. The hips are holding up very well!

Rudy hasn't competed since the end of 2002 due to his hip problems and ensuing double total hip replacement surgery. Since his surgery and rehabilitation, he has become much at ease with his hip implants, works very hard at staying in shape and keeping up his skating skills, and would very much enjoy competing again should the opportunity arise. He has maintained the four triple jumps he regularly performed in competition as much as most of his flexibility.

Rudy also appears, speaks, and performs at HIV/AIDS-related conferences, benefits, AIDS Walks, etc. He has tirelessly promoted AIDS awareness and education, while serving as an inspiration and example to those living with HIV and AIDS that they can still pursue their lives and dreams. Skating on two new hips, he is again an example of how life can go on if one has optimism, determination, and courage.

Rudy's House 

Rudy resides in Reno, NV, a short distance from where Laura, Andy, Tyler, and Marina now live, and his mom is close by. He regularly trains at TotalSports in Sparks (near Reno) to be closer to his family. He and Laura still make trips to San Jose for skating, costumes, music editing, and to see friends.

Rudy's pets

You may remember Rudy talking about kissing his cats for luck before he won Nationals? His mom cared for his lucky cats ever since, and they moved to Reno with her! Laura and Andy have Max, the handsome and smart yellow lab (he likes Rudy, too). They recently acquired Ruby, a female yellow lab puppy, so Max could bring her up to be like he is!

Rudy's choreography & costumes

Sharlene Franke choreographed Rudy's memorable "Swan Lake" Nationals long program from '96 and the very popular and hilarious "Village People Medley" he debuted on the 1998 COI Winter Tour and which is already a signature program for him. She also did "Babalu," at the time, a change of pace for Rudy as a performer, the "Brady Bunch," "Dancin' With Myself," with which Rudy placed a close second in the Technical program at the 1997 World Professional Championships, and "Studio 54 Soundtrack."

Randy Gardner created the very successful "Ice Castles" ("Through the Eyes of Love") program and "The Rose," from the 1999/2000 season. Laura and Rudy came up with the brilliant and much emulated concept and choreography for "Send In the Clowns." 1998/99's well-received "Rondo Capriccioso," also referred to as Rudy's violin program, was the work of Alexander Zhulin, and may be one his most successful ventures for a singles skater. Though Rudy seemed to open the door for regular use of props in professional skating, his hoop and violin bow stand out for elegance and gracefulness.

For the 2001 season, Rudy performed to "Elephant Love Medley" from Moulin Rouge, "Pie Jesu" (a piano version by NatureQuest) from Requieum, "Gaite Parisien" (Offenbach) and "Let's Hear It For the Boy," from Footloose, a 2000 program never seen except in Branson, MO, and on local television (in New York City). Laura and Rudy again did the choreography for his competitive and exhibition programs this season. The Moulin Rouge program featured a gorgeous jacket with a woman's face embroidered on the back.

For the 2002 Elvis Sk8 Tour, Rudy's new program was controversial--and wonderful--"Sweet Transvestite" and "Time Warp" from the Rocky Horror Show. He also did "Colors Of the Wind" to please the more traditional members of the audiences! Rudy's Frank N Furter was a marvelous characterization, the costume was perfect, and Rudy skated it extremely well. The choreography included everything from a couple of jump combinations to a slinky crawl on the ice! For a look at the costume see the reviews of the ElvisSk8 Tour and the COI Winter Tour. After a few trial performances, Rocky Horror was deemed to be a bit much for the more family-oriented COI audiences. For the remainder of the COI Winter Tour, he did the Prince number, somewhat revamped from the 2000 Winter Tour. 

Rudy and Julie Rose work together on many of his costumes, with Rudy doing most of the design, and Julie making them happen. To the left is one of Rudy's favorites from his "On Golden Pond" program. Rudy was featured in this costume in a cameo appearance in the delightful and successful 2001 French film, Amelie. The mother of the title character was fond of figure skaters' costumes, and Rudy was the example shown! Like Rudy, Julie Rose and choreographer Sharlene Franke are from the San Jose area.

Rudy's programs

Rudy has appeared in 33 professional and pro am competitions and two unjudged exhibitions ("The Improv" in 1998 and 1999) from his October 1996 debut at the U.S. Professional Championships, through the 2001 season.  He performed 25 different programs in competition (27 if you count his two self-choreographed "Improv" numbers). All were new except for "Ave Maria," which he had skated as an amateur (World Championships exhibitions and Hershey's Kisses Challenge). See Professional Competitions and Programs for complete listing.

In addition, he appeared in 14 exhibitions/shows, of which twelve were televised (see ToursShows). He skated to eleven programs in these shows that he hasn't used in competition:

  • 1996 Nutcracker on Ice - "Spanish Dance" and "Arabian Dance"
  • 1999 From This Moment, Tara Lipinski special - "On the Boardwalk" (with Tara and Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow)
  • 1999 StarSkates Ice Jam - "Stay the Same" (with Joey McIntire) and "Escuchame" (with Carlos Ponce)
  • 1999 Skating Goes Country (Nancy Kerrigan's show) - "The Shake" and "Blue Christmas"
  • 2000 Champions On Ice Winter Tour, later 2002/2003 Winter and Summer Champions on Ice Tours - "Prince" Medley (also performed on the 2003 Champions On Ice Winter and Summer Tours)
  • 2000 StarSkates Latin - "El Baile de Perrito" by Robert Vargas y Su Grupo Killa
  • 2002 Brian Boitano's Holiday Skating Spectacular - "Pie Jesu" by NatureQuest, also on the 2002 Champions On Ice Winter Tour and Jamie Sale & David Pelletier's "Golden Homecoming" show from Canada.
  • 2002 Elvis Sk8 Tour - "Sweet Transvestite"/"Time Warp" from the Rocky Horror Show
  • 2004 (February) Today Show - "Sunshine On My Shoulders"
  • 2004 Champions On Ice Tour 1 - "Star-Spangled Banner" (Beyonce)
  • 2004 Champions On Ice Tour 2 - "Village People Medley" and "Send In the Clowns
  • 2004/2005 "Broadway On Ice" - "Send In the Clowns," "Yankee Doodle Dandy," and various other numbers in part
Rudy's most frequently performed programs in professional competition are the "Village People Medley" and "Rondo Capriccioso" at six times each. The latter appeared a seventh time as an exhibition number in "The Improv." Next, with five outings, is "On Golden Pond," while "Ice Castles," "Studio 54," "Sounds of Silence," and "Send In the Clowns" each aired four times. The last two also appeared on Brian Boitano's Skate Against Hate special, and "Clowns" became Rudy's COI Summer Tour program in 2000, as well as one of his Broadway on Ice offerings. 

Rudy has done twelve programs only once in professional competition.

  • Music from "Swan Lake" (1996 U.S. Professional Championships Technical Program, his professional debut. This was a different program and different music from his 1996 Nationals Free Skate)
  • "Ave Maria" (1996 World Professional Championships Technical Program, also in exhibition and on Tour)
  • "Babalu" (1996 World Professional Championships Artistic Program, also in exhibition and on Tour)
  • Music from "Pagliacci" (1996 Challenge of Champions Special Performance)
  • "Dancin' With Myself" (1997 World Professional Championships Technical Program)
  • "Annie's Song" (1998 Challenge of Champions Special Performance)
  • "Livin' la Vida Loca" (1999 World Professional Championships Artistic Program, later in exhibition in StarSkates Latin in 2000)
  • Fosse 2, featuring "Life Is Just a Bowl Of Cherries" and "Sing! Sing Sing!" (2000 Grand Slam of Skating)
  • "Can't Take That Away" (2000 Grand Slam of Skating) Let's hope we see these last two wonderful programs again.
  • "Let's Hear It For the Boy," from Footloose (2001 Hershey's Kisses Challenge,  originally performed for the 1999 Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink Opening, and later in Broadway On Ice, summer of 2000, in Branson, MO, at the Andy Williams theatre)
  • "Elephant Love Medley," from Moulin Rouge (2001 World Ice Challenge) We have to see the jacket again!
  • "Gaite Parisien" (2001 World Ice Challenge and on the 2002 Champions On Ice Winter Tour) 
Seen twice in competition were 1998/99's "Over the Rainbow" and the earlier "Brady Bunch" and "Morning Has Broken" programs. A superior performance of "Over the Rainbow" was inexplicably cut from ABC's televised U.S. Professional Championships in 1998. "The Rose" was performed three times, though Rudy's best performance of the latter may have been at the World Professional Championships in 1999 and wasn't shown on TV. Rudy did the Prince medley on his abbreviated 2000 COI Winter Tour and may change it slightly to perform for a future COI Tour. He hasn't done it in competition. Danny Wright's "Colors of the Wind" was Rudy's well-received artistic number in two competitions in 2000. Fosse 1 ("Big Spender" and "Hot Honey Rag")  appeared three times in 2000 as Rudy's technical program and was very well-received as his 2001 COI Winter and Summer Tours number. After performing two of his new 2001 programs on the COI 2002 Winter Tour ("Gaite Parisienne" and "Pie Jesu"), he again regaled audiences with the "Village People Medley" for the extended 2002 Summer Olympic Tour (Tom Collins wanted this one and it was again a hit!). He experimented with "Sweet Transvestite"/"Time Warp" on the 2003 Champions on Ice Winter Tour, but switched to the "Prince Medley" at Tom Collins request. 

See Professional Competitions and Programs

Rudy on tour and TV

Rudy was forced to withdraw from the Artistic Program in the 2000 Goodwill Games due to the viral pneumonia that led to his HIV+ diagnosis. See Professional Competitions and Programs.  In a remarkable turnaround in the 2000/2001 season, he finished a close second in the World Professional Championships in December, 2000, and had strong finishes in his other 2000 competitions.

He hadn't missed a tour performance until the end of his fifth year on the Champions On Ice Winter Tour (2000), when he missed the last eight performances due to the same illness, undiagnosed at the time. After doing a limited number of dates with the 1996 Tour of Champions Winter Tour just after his Nationals win, he completed the 1996 TOC Summer Tour through the 1999 Champions On Ice Summer Tour (renamed with the 1998 season). 

Champions On Ice Tour 1 - 2004

Champions On Ice Tour2 - 2004

Rudy returned to start the 2000 Summer Tour and missed only five performances--for planned medical maintenance and to be with Laura after Marina's birth. He skated in all performances of the 2001 Winter and Summer Tours much to the pleasure of audiences. In 2002, he skated the entire Winter Tour, but missed ten performances of the grueling 90+ performances Summer (Olympic Tour) due to a recurring hip problem.

Earlier, he was also a part of the two-week Elvis Tour through Canada from 1996 through 1998, and again performed in this successfully revived tour in 2002. Almost all of his professional competitions and tour appearances in the U.S. and Canada have been televised nationally. (The exceptions were the 2001- 2002/03 COI Winter Tours and the 2004 Tours 1 and 2.)

Rudy participated in the Champions On Ice 2004 Tours 1 and 2 on two new ceramic on ceramic hip implants. He didn't miss a performance and skated very well throughout the tours. (His only fall on a jump was the last night of the second tour!) Those who are acquainted with the effects of major surgery, as well as bilateral total hip replacement, knew well what he accomplished by being back on tour doing triple jumps and flexibility moves six months afterward.

Rudy also performed in the televised 1996 Reno Holiday On Ice and Nutcracker On Ice productions. He did two TV specials seen in 1998: Brian Boitano's Skate Against Hate, and Mannheim Steamroller's original production, A Christmas Angel, which has been shown every year since. In addition, he filmed an episode of Will & Grace and an oft-repeated E! True Hollywood Stories feature about him, and worked with Tara Lipinski on her TV special, From This Moment, all shown in 1999. Later in 1999, he did several televised exhibition programs--Star Skates Ice Jam (Robin Cousins' production), Skating Goes Country (Nancy Kerrigan's show), and the locally (NYC) televised opening of the rink at Rockefeller Center. In 2000, he performed in Broadway on Ice (Branson), which was not televised, and Star Skates Latin. He did his first Brian Boitano's Holiday Skating Spectacular on January 1, 2002, and Jamie Sale & David Pelletier's "Golden Homecoming" Show shortly after the Olympics. On February 20, 2004, Rudy made his first post-hip surgery appearance on the Today Show, skating a beautiful program to John Denver's "Sunshine On My Shoulders." He was also shown skating at his Reno training base and briefly interviewed by Matt Lauer. He had a second "Broadway On Ice" stint in late 2004/early 2005.

Along the way earlier were appearances on Oprah!, the Maury Povich Show, Rosie O'Donnell, Today, Prime Time, Caryl and Marilyn, and interviews on various shows about his book. In February of 2003, he was included in a Where Are They Now segment about ice skaters, and on a week long Family Feud battle between the women and men of Champions On Ice.

After Rudy's April 5, 2000, announcement that he is HIV positive, he appeared on the Today show (interviewed by Katie Couric), Dateline (in a terrific interview with Jane Pauley), Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, the MSNBC morning show, etc. In February, 2004, Rudy made another TV comeback making his first public skating appearance with his new ceramic hips on the Today Show. Matt Lauer interviewed him this time. 

From Rudy's auspicious arrival in prime time in January, 1996, through 2004, he has appeared on television well over 100 times! See ToursShows for a summary.

Rudy's book

Rudy's book, Icebreaker; the Autobiography of Rudy Galindo, written with Eric Marcus, is out in three versions: the original 1997 hard cover publication, the later 1997 paperback with an updated chapter, and the Spanish edition, Autobiografia de Rudy Galindo, all published by Pocket Books. An edition or more of the book is now in several thousand libraries in the U.S. Both the English and Spanish editions are still in print.

On March 20 1997, when Lorrie Kim interviewed Rudy about Icebreaker and asked some questions sent to her by fans, he answered one about whether or not there would be another book later on updating his life with the following, "No. I'm pretty content with my life right now. It's just a great ending." From a February 10, 1999, article titled, "Rudy Galindo Hopes for Smoother Skating," by Dan LeRoy in the Daily News (Charleston, W VA), Rudy gave Le Roy a different answer that might make a few of his professional colleagues squirm a bit--if he was serious! "I would love to write about my life as a professional, all of the cities I've been in. A little bit gossipy, about the turmoils of the other skaters, of course."

A year later in an interview with Milton Wendland in the February 2000, issue of The Liberty Press, he again talked about writing another book. "Will the next book be juicy?" asked Wendland. "Oh, Yeah!" responded Rudy.

We'll look forward to that one!! Rudy has been keeping a journal since his HIV+ diagnosis, so he will be prepared.

See Rudy's book for reviews and commentary

Rudy's amateur career

In an amateur career that spanned 15 years from 1982 into 1996, Rudy won two U.S. National Championships in singles and three in pairs with Kristi Yamaguchi, as well as having two third place finishes in National Junior Men's Championships:
  • 1st - U.S. National Novice Men's Championship (1982)
  • 1st - U.S. National Junior Pairs Championship (1986)
  • 1st - U.S. National Pairs Championship (1989)
  • 1st - U.S. National Pairs Championship (1990)
  • 1st - U.S. National Men's Championship (1996)
  • 3rd - U.S. National Junior Men's Championship (1985, 1986)
He also had six top three placements in the World Championships, winning a World Junior Men's Championship in 1987 and a bronze medal in the 1996 Men's event in a field many still think was one of the best ever. Rudy was the first skater and only man to win two medals at the World Junior Championships (gold in singles and bronze in pairs in 1987). The next year, Kristi Yamaguchi won golds in both singles and pairs. No one has done it since.
  • 1st - World Junior Men's Championship (1987)
  • 1st - World Junior Pairs Championship (1988)
  • 2nd - World Junior Men's Championship (1986)
  • 3rd - World Junior Men's Championship (1985)
  • 3rd - World Junior Pairs Championship (1987)
  • 3rd - World Men's Championship (1996)
In addition, Rudy won five Pacific Coast Senior Championships from 1992-1996, and placed second twice in the U.S. Olympic Festival (1987 and 1993). On the international scene, he won the ASKO Cup (1987) and Vienna Cup (1994), and he and Kristi won Skate Electric (1988) and placed second in Skate America (1989).

Rudy announced that he was turning professional on September 11, 1996, saying "My dreams as an amateur skater have been more than fulfilled." Laura added, "...the bronze medal at Worlds was just a treat," and Rudy later reflected that his win in San Jose was his Olympic medal. Dick Button agreed in his World Championships commentary saying his performance in San Jose was good enough to be just that. See See Amateur Competitions

Rudy's "6.0's"

Rudy stands tied for fourth in the number of "6.0's" received in the Men's Competitions at the U.S. National Championships having been awarded two of them in the artistic scores for his 1996 free skating performance. He's in excellent company. Ahead of him are Boitano, with nine, Wylie with seven, and Hamilton with six. Tied with him with two are Terry Kubicka (1975), Charles Tickner (1975, 1977), and John Misha Petkevich (1968, 1971).

Rudy's 2nd oldest men's champion record?

Although Rudy was often reported to be the second oldest Men's National Champion, that wasn't so according to USFSA records, even in 1996. He was actually fourth oldest behind the following men:
  • Chris Christenson, winner in 1926 at age 51
  • Nathaniel Niles, winner in 1918, 1925, and 1927, at ages 31, 38, and 40
  • Roger Turner, winner from 1928 through 1932, at ages 26 through 32
Todd Eldredge then moved Rudy back another notch in 1998 when Todd won, having reached age 26 some ten days earlier than Rudy (Todd's birthday is August 28, while Rudy's is September 7). Todd continues to make Rudy look young!

The Champions On Ice bio on Rudy said that he was the second oldest men's AMATEUR champion, so perhaps a couple of pros slipped in among the above gentlemen!

Rudy's honors

Rudy has received several honors in the skating world and from the various communities he contributes to and represents. Following are many of them:
  • Prior to Rudy's win at '96 Nationals, plans were underway to create a permanent tribute to Rudy and four other distinguished San Jose area figure skaters (Brian Boitano, Peggy Fleming, Debi Thomas, and Kristi Yamaguchi). In the form of a public art project titled "Five Skaters," it is located in a downtown park across from the San Jose Arena. It features five 20 feet tall columns, each with an abstract portrait of one of the skaters made from one inch square mosaic tiles. They adorn a rink shaped terrazzo. The artwork was dedicated October 17, 1996. Inscribed on the floor of the terrazzo in circular patterns much like skating figures are comments from all of the skaters honored. Rudy's were typically straightforward and poignantly prophetic:
"When I was eight, I started skating at the Eastridge Mall in San Jose. My parents knew nothing about ice skating. My sister, Laura, also skated but we couldn't afford two skaters in the family. My mom didn't work, and my dad was a truck driver. Laura gave up skating so I could go on. When I threatened to quit my parents would say, "OK," and that made me want to do it even more. I've had my share of ups and downs. There's been the deaths of my brother and father. And two of my coaches have died, one from cancer, and the other from AIDS. I never imagined when I started skating that one day I'd win the Junior World title and the U.S. Pairs Championship twice with Kristi Yamaguchi. I guess I'm a survivor. I don't know where it comes from."
  • Rudy received significant honors from other San Jose organizations. One was from the Hispanic Development Corporation's Portraits of Success Achievement awards given for "rising from difficult circumstances to achieving success in their professions." The San Jose Sports Hall of Fame also honored Rudy and gymnast Amy Chow as Amateur Athletes of the Year in 1996.
  • The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) awarded Rudy its Sportsman Of the Year award in 1996. NCLR is "an organization established to reduce poverty and discrimination, and improve life opportunities for Hispanic Americans."
  • In June, 1997, the Ice Theatre of New York, which emphasizes the performing arts aspects of skating, honored Rudy. Ice Theatre Director Moira North, made this statement, "His honesty with who he is, his heritage, his homosexuality, I think seeps into his expressive quality. I hope it will encourage others to be who they are and to find their creative voices."
  • Later in July, 1997, Rudy served as Grand Marshal of the 23d annual San Diego Lesbian & Gay Pride Parade. He was well chosen to represent the theme of the festivities--"Share the Vision: Equality through Visibility."
  • In January, 1998, Rudy was asked to be a part of the U.S. Presidential delegation to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Tipper Gore led the delegation. Rudy joined Ambassador Thomas Foley, 1984 Olympic gold medal winning gymnast, Mary Lou Retton, Dr. Tenley Albright, winner of Olympic gold in skating in 1956, Jazz musician, Herbie Hancock, Scott Oki, who introduced Windows strategy to Microsoft, and National Geographic photographer, Jodi Cobb.
  • Rudy was among 12 men selected as Blades on Ice's "Skaters Of the Decade." Commemorating the periodical's tenth anniversary, the August, 1999, issue featured skaters in all categories who "contributed something special to the sport during the past ten years and represent the wonderful variety of styles and talent that we have seen in figure skating this past decade." Rudy is described as "delighting audiences with programs that reach into your heart to make you laugh or cry."
  • Rudy's HIV positive diagnosis resulted in his immediately stepping up his activity on behalf of AIDS related causes and organizations. He became the Honorary Co-Chairman of the National Minority AIDS Council and spokesperson for NMAC's 2000 Summer Campaign against HIV-related anemia. To learn more about NMAC go to the NMAC web site. Rudy  spoke at the NMAC Annual Conference in Atlanta October 1-4, 2000, and hosted a World AIDS Day tribute to NMAC's Dr. Beny Primm on November 30, in Washington, DC.
  • On May 21, 2000, Rudy led the International AIDS Candlelight March in San Francisco honoring the memory of those who have died of AIDS. At the conclusion of the march, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, on behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives, presented Rudy with a United States flag that had recently flown over the Capitol Building and declared that Rudy is a National Treasure. 
  • On June 11, 2000, Rudy served as Grand Marshal of the San Jose Gay Pride Parade, enjoying the opportunity to do this in his hometown.
  • The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) 2000 Report Card awarded Rudy an A, particularly in the area of prevention, for "Achievement and vital results in the fight against HIV and AIDS." The annual report card ranks "high-achievers and failures in this life and death struggle." Among the others receiving A grades were U.S. Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Dick Gephardt, and Senator Robert Torricelli, all of whom championed the Early Treatment for HIV Act, Robert Zaldiver, who raised awareness of AIDS in the Latino community, and Journalist Mark Schoofs, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his Village Voice series, "AIDS: The Agony of Africa."
  • On April 6, 2001, Rudy received the Ryan White Award prior to the Washington, DC, Champions on Ice Tour performance. The award was presented to Rudy for his contributions to AIDS awareness, prevention, and education and for his work with "underserved populations."
  • The May/June issue of International Figure Skating honored Rudy among "The 25 Most Influential Names In Figure Skating 2000-2001." Citing Rudy's work as spokesman for the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC), and

  • recently for the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR), IFS cited both Rudy's exemplary and tireless work for AIDS/HIV related causes and his goal to continue to improve his skating in the face of his own health situation to provide an example to others living with HIV. Of the honorees, IFS said, "Whatever the forum, they made an impact not only on the skating world but also on the public in terms of how it perceives that world." 
  • In July, 2001, Rudy appeared at a benefit for Los Angeles AltaMed Health Services, an organization that provides "health care and support services to the primarily Latino Community of men, women, and children living with HIV and AIDS since 1989." There, he received a Mario Tamayo Leadership Award for outstanding service to those living with HIV and AIDS. 


Rudy's firsts

Peter Gambaccini reviewed Dan Woog's book, Jocks: True Stories of America's Gay Male Athletes, published by Alyson Books, in the June 30, 1998, issue of Village Voice. In the article, Gambaccini states, "Among American men, only figure skater Rudy Galindo came out while still at his athletic apogee." Rudy is usually mentioned in the same sentence as Greg Louganis and Martina Navratilova, both of whom were well past their primes in their sports when they spoke publicly about being gay. Rudy is not only the first openly gay skater to be competing and performing at an elite level, but the first such athlete and first out U.S. national champion in ANY sport. To use Dick Button's words about Rudy from '96 Nationals, "Now that's guts."

Later on, the November 19, 1998, issue of PlanetOut News further clarified Rudy's position in the skating world, "The only top skater to voluntarily publicly identify himself as gay while still active in the sport is U.S. Professional Rudy Galindo." Rudy still stands alone in this category.

Rudy is among the first and only athletes active at a high level in a sport to report his HIV positive status. Because of the individual nature of skating, he is able to continue to compete and perform without controversy, something that wasn't  possible for Magic Johnson in a team sport. PlanetOut News refers to him fondly now as "openly gay, openly HIV+."

In 1998, Rudy introduced his now well-known and much-loved "Village People Medley." He blithefully drew audiences into this program, and people all over the country enjoyed and had fun with it. Also in the 1998 season, Rudy performed a beautiful version of "Over the Rainbow" at the U.S. Professional Championships which most of us will never see as it was inexplicably "chacked" from the ABC broadcast. The network later showed a less perfect televised performance from the Keri Lotion Classic (pro am). Here's hoping we see another version of it during Rudy's career.

For the group introduction to the 1999 COI Summer Tour, Rudy answered the requests of many fans and did a bit from The Rocky Horror Show to "Time Warp" that had audiences begging for a full program. See Ann Jensen's picture of Rudy as Frankenfurter. Rudy's "Studio 54" program, as performed during the 1999 professional competition season, proved more controversial than these earlier ones. Lorrie Kim has written an in depth essay on it and reactions to it which appears on her web site (see below). Programs with implicit or explicit gay images and themes would have been unheard of only a few years ago. Rudy admits he "pushes the envelope" on occasion!

By the 2000/2001 season, Rudy had audiences at his competitions and the two Champions on Ice tours eating from his hand and applauding loud and long for his Fosse I number. This program incorporates some of the moves "you don't see the other men do," according to Roslynn Sumners. Audiences seem to have become very comfortable with his choreography and style, a giant stride from the reaction to Studio 54, and even occasionally, "The Village People."

We may have spoken too soon! Rudy had done a brief introductory bit to "Time Warp" for the 1999 COI Summer Tour. He expanded it to a complete program featuring "Sweet Transvestite" and "Time Warp" that he did on the 2002 Elvis Sk8 Tour through Canada (see ElvisSk8 Tour review for pictures). The Canadians received it very well with few exceptions. However, when Rudy tried it out on the 2003 COI Winter Tour, the American audiences weren't quite as receptive and he had to abandon the program for this year anyhow.

Just when we thought he was out of firsts and comebacks, Rudy became the first skater to perform triple jumps and shotgun spins on two artificial hips! His comeback from August and September total hip replacement surgery occurred on February 20, 2004, less than four months after his second hip surgery, and he was ready for the 2004 Champions On Ice Tours by the starting date of April 3, 2004.

Lorrie Kim's web site, Rainbow Ice, which covers "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered issues in the sport of figure skating," has three excellent sections on Rudy as well as the other elite gay skaters who have made their orientation known.

Rudy Galindo

November (1998) flavor of the month ("Rudy Galindo flies over the rainbow")

December (1999) flavor of the month ("Rudy Galindo's 'Studio 54'")

Photo and other credits:

Rudy's name: photo on left by Troy Chinn from the cover of Skating Magazine, March, 1985
Rudy's sister and coach: first photo by Andrea Chempinski
Rudy's health: photo by Leah Adams
Rudy's costumes & choreography: second photo by Harry Langdon
Rudy's programs: first photo by Barry Mittan; second photo by Debbie Mowry
Rudy's book: photo by Otto Greule/Allsports
Rudy's amateur career: first photo by Paul Harvath; second photo by Barry Mittan
Rudy's 6.0's: ABC/TV
Rudy's honors: photo by Leah Adams
Rudy's firsts: first photo by Ann Jensen; second photo by Debbie Mowry

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last updated January 15, 2004