By Maura Cheeks | Jan. 26, 2013, 2 p.m. (ET)

Lori Nichol and Rudy Galindo at the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame Class of 2013 ceremony

The names Michelle Kwan and Kristi Yamaguchi still ring a bell for most Americans even today. Though it has been nearly a decade since Kwan competed – and two for Yamaguchi – they are still regarded as two of the most popular U.S. figure skaters of all time. Kwan remains the most decorated female figure skater in U.S. history, with an astounding nine national titles and five world titles, and Yamaguchi, the 1992 Olympic gold medalist, continues to be a staple in pop culture, competing in (and ultimately winning) Dancing with the Stars.

On a Friday night in Omaha, however, all eyes were on the people who have stood beside Kwan and Yamaguchi to help make them the figure skating stars we all know and love today. Lori Nichol, Kwan’s choreographer, and Rudy Galindo, Yamaguchi’s pairs partner, both became members of the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame Class of 2013.

Nichol is best known for being the mastermind behind the award-winning programs of Michelle Kwan, Evan Lysacek and many more. One of the most respected choreographers in the world, half of the gold medalists at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games landed there by perfecting routines created by Lori Nichol. 

Evan Lysacek, who attended the ceremony, said, “Lori Nichol’s body of work has had more impact on the sport of skating than any other individual. I’m echoing so many when I say, this award is well deserved.”

Galindo on the other hand stood front and center at one of the most memorable performances in U.S. Figure Skating Championships history. In 1996 in his hometown of San Jose, Calif., Galindo succeeded in capturing the skating world’s attention to win the gold medal with an impressive free skate. In 1989 and 1990, Galindo and Yamaguchi also captured U.S. pairs titles. Today, Galindo continues to inspire on the ice where he once made history, coaching none other than Yamaguchi’s daughter.

"Rudy Galindo and Lori Nichol's contributions to the sport of figure skating are deserving of inclusion to the U.S. Hall of Fame," said Larry Mondschein, chair of the hall's nominating committee. "In addition, both continue to contribute to our sport. As a coach, Rudy is training a new generation of athletes, while Lori remains one of the most recognizable and respected choreographers in the world."

With the 2013 U.S. Figure Skating Championships soon coming to an end, Friday night’s ceremony served as the perfect reminder for athletes and spectators alike, to recognize those who continue to inspire the new stars looking to pave their way to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

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