Three-time U.S. champion Rudy Galindo started to wonder if he'd every get voted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame after failing to make it the previous three years.
But the San Jose native finally got in Monday on his fourth try.
"It felt like my little Oscar win," Galindo said.
Galindo, 43, and Canadian choreographer Lori Nichol were the sole members of the class of 2013 that was announced Monday. Their induction will be held at the 2013 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Jan. 20-27 in Omaha, Neb.
Upon getting nominated for the fourth consecutive year Galindo kept his emotions in check "so I wouldn't be let down again."
Instead word came in the morning that Galindo joined fellow Bay Area skaters Brian Boitano, Peggy Fleming, Charlie Tickner, Debi Thomas, Barbara Roles Williams and Kristi Yamaguchi in the prestigious hall.
Galindo, the first openly gay male to win a U.S. title, reached the pinnacle of his sport by overcoming long odds. He sometimes had to ride a bicycle from the family trailer in San Jose to practice and gym workouts.
One of his first coaches died of AIDS-related complications in 1989. Galindo's truck driver father died from a heart attack in 1993 and his older brother died from AIDS complications a year later.
Throughout the adversity Galindo kept skating. He won U.S. pairs titles in 1989 and '90 with Fremont's Yamaguchi and was considered an Olympic medal contender until
While Yamaguchi went on to win a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics, Galindo, the 1987 World Junior singles champion, floundered at the senior level.
Everything changed when Galindo, then 26, won the 1996 U.S. title at HP Pavilion in one of the most-memorable performances at a national championship. He stunned the field with an electrifying free skate in front of a hometown audience to become the oldest male to win the crown in 70 years. Galindo, who was coached by sister Laura, also earned a bronze at the 1996 World Championships and then retired from competitive skating.
Galindo called the Hall of Fame induction an affirmation to everything he has accomplished.
"It just says that you don't have to hide or you don't have to give up on your passion for something," he said Monday. "All those years having to get up and train and go to ballot class and ride the bike and go to the gym. This confirms it. It's all so worth it."
Galindo, who was inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame in 2011, coaches at Sharks Ice San Jose.
"Skating goes on," he said. "The journey still continues. Coaching is something I love. I can share this with my students. I can pass this on to them."
One of his students is Emma Hedican, the daughter of Yamaguchi and husband Brett Hedican, a former NHL player. Galindo got a congratulatory text from his former skating partner Monday.
He thanked Yamaguchi and then said, "See you in a few hours."
Emma Hedican had an afternoon lesson with her coach.
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond