A Prodigy And A Partnership
Galindo began to devote virtually all his free time to skating. He and Laura would get up at 4:45 in the morning to practice skating before school. Even with that, Galindo was often late, and he actually had to change schools to find a principal willing to accommodate this chronic lateness. The money for lessons also began to put a crimp in the family budget, and when it became too expensive Laura dropped out of serious skating, taking a job at Taco Bell to help pay for Rudy's skating and ballet lessons. The financial struggle prevented the Galindos from moving out of their trailer, but according to Rudy, his father never asked him to stop skating.
The family's sacrifices and Galindo's hard work soon started to pay off. He quickly rose to prominence in the sport, taking third place in the World Junior Figure Skating Championships at age 15, and first place two years later, in 1987. But it was in pairs skating that Galindo really caught the attention of the skating world.
In 1983, Galindo met Kristi Yamaguchi, and the two began skating together. While both continued to skate separately, often winning competitions, they began to be seen more and more as a team, a special combination that transcended their separate talents. In 1989 and again in 1990 they won the U.S. Figure Skating national pairs competition, and sportswriters began to speak of them as likely medal winners in the 1992 Olympics. At the same time, Galindo grew closer to the Yamaguchi family, even moving in with them for a few years and changing the spelling of his name to "Rudi" to better match Kristi.
But on April 26, 1990, Yamaguchi told Galindo she wanted to break up the partnership. She had continued to focus on singles competitions, and her exhausting training schedule was taking its toll. Yamaguchi and Galindo took fifth place at the 1990 World Figure Skating Pairs Championships, and to the surprise of many in the skating world, Yamaguchi failed to secure a medal in the Women's Singles. Something had to give, and she decided to focus exclusively on the singles. While he understood her reasons, Galindo was clearly hurt. As he told a Sports Illustrated reporter, "I guess I knew it would happen. You hear comments from other skaters. But Kristi had never said anything. We were like brother and sister, then we just went our separate ways."