In 1968, Kristi met Brian McDonald at the British Open in Blackpool, England, and they decided to tryout. It felt promising, so Brian left Sheila Downton, his current partner, to dance with Kristi, sensing that she would be the one for him, and not only for dancing! Within six weeks, they were in the top six in the Scottish Amateur Championship and became Scottish Champions in 1969, 1970, and 1971. During all of this, both their parents had supported them and their dancing aspirations, but now it was time to make this their profession. They turned pro in 1971.
Brian's first and only teacher until he turned professional was Mary Buchannon, who had also taught his parents. She was a former Scottish Champion and examiner for the Scottish Dance Teachers' Alliance. When Brian and Kristi made the final in the British Open Professional Championships in 1976, they felt it was time to get more teachers and more exposure. They started to commute to London, a seven hour drive, to work with Benny Tolmeijer and Bill and Bobbie Irvine as their core coaches. They also had some lessons with Anthony Hurley and Peter Eggleton.
As Scottish representatives, they made the final of the European Standard Championship three times, and in 1977 when Richard and Janet Gleave took a one year hiatus, Brian and Kristi came second. Richard and Janet had won the European six times.
The 1977 finalists in the order of placement were:
- 1) Michael and Vicky Barr, Great Britain
- 2) Brian and Kristi, Scotland
- 3) Wolfgang and Monika Tönnies, Germany
- 4) Frank and Bruni Gierok, Germany
- 5) Richard Wienecke and Ulla Jensen, Denmark
- 6) Espen and Kirsten Salberg, Norway
That same year, Brian and Kristi went to the U.S. and "fell in love".
In 1978, the finalists in order of placement were:
- 1) Richard and Janet Gleave, Great Britain
- 2) Michael and Vicky Barr, Great Britain
- 3) Tetzuo Kezuka and Chieko Yamamoto, Japan
- 4) Greg Smith and Marion Alleyne, Australia
- 5) Chu and Susie Tanaka, Japan
- 6) Brian and Kristi, Scotland
In 1978, they went back to the U.S. on a tour of shows they had organized. This took them from coast to coast, and they knew for sure that this was where they wanted to live.
Running a club and teaching was very stressful for Brian and Kristi. They were up until 3:00 a.m. at the club, got up early the following day to clean and set up again, and then teach. It isn’t surprising that they decided to give the club up.
In 1980, Brian and Kristi started to organize their own competition in California, the Embassy Ball, with John Kimmins and Sam Sodano as co-organizers since 2005. Over the years, it has become one of the biggest international events in the U.S.
Gary McDonald, Brian and Kristi’s son, followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and became a competitor and studio owner. With his partner, Diana McDonald, he became a 10-time undefeated U.S National 10 Dance Champion, and in 1997, the World 10 Dance Champion.National Dance Council of America (NDCA) proudly inducted Brian and Kristi McDonald into the United States DanceSport Hall of Fame. This life achievement award was given in recognition of their outstanding contribution, devotion and dedication to ballroom dancing in the United States and worldwide. Their leadership and commitment to excellence in the field of ballroom dancing and DanceSport is an inspiration to all as they have helped in preparation for the successes enjoyed today in the U.S..
2012 also paved the way for husband and wife to receive another Lifetime Achievement Award as they were inducted into the Millennium DanceSport Championships Hall of Fame. They were also the 2016 Honorees of the DBDC - A Legendary Celebration.
- 3-time Scottish Amateur Champion (1969 - 1971)
- British Open Professional Standard Championship Finalist (1976)
- 3-time European Professional Standard Championship Finalist
- European Professional Standard Championship Runner-Up (1977)
- 2-time World Professional Standard Championship Finalist - 6th Place (1977 - 1978)
- 4-time United States National Professional Standard Champion (1979 - 1982)
- Toured the U.S. performing in shows
- Ran and operated a nightclub/dance school in Oklahoma City that was called Kristi’s
- Organizer of the Embassy Ballroom Championships (Embassy Ball) since 1980
- United States DanceSport Hall of Fame Recipient (2008)
- Millennium DanceSport Championships Hall of Fame Recipient (2012)