Written on September 12, 2013 at 10:46 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Kristen Haney, editorial intern
It only takes six seconds before a bobsled pilot is singlehandedly in charge of steering a 400-pound sled as it plummets down an icy one-mile track, whipping around a labyrinth of turns at upwards of 75 mph. No pressure, right? Not for Jazmine Fenlator, who’s used to steering herself and others through tough situations.
The USA bobsled driver and Olympic hopeful has triumphed over her fair share of struggles both on and off the track. Despite serious family health problems, personal injury and the loss of her home to Hurricane Irene, the New Jersey native has kept her sights focused on the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, finishing right behind the reigning Olympic gold medalist at the 2012 Lake Placid World Cup with new partner Lolo Jones. Oh, did we mention she also juggles her training with studying for grad school? We caught up with the resilient athlete, ranked second in the U.S. and eighth in the world, to discover her pre-race rituals, hidden childhood passions and how she continues to bounce back from personal setbacks.
We’d love to know what you’re training for right now. It sounds like the Olympics, hopefully soon?
I’m hoping to vie for a medal in Sochi, so that’s less than six months away. It’s pretty exciting. Right now I’ve just been going back and forth between Calgary, Canada and the U.S. Calgary has an indoor ice facility and the U.S. doesn’t, so to simulate our sport as much as possible, we’ll go up there in the off season. We also do a lot of dry land training in the off-season, when we’re off-ice, running, lifting, sprinting. All that good stuff.
You come from a track and field background. How did you get into bobsled?
I was a track and field athlete in college at Rider University, and was looking to train for London. Some good friends of my coach, who were also coaching our rivals, kind of mentioned that they did bobsled after their careers, and asked what I wanted to do. And he was looking at them like, “Bobsled? What are you talking about? She wants to do track, but I’ll mention it to her.” At that time I was qualifying for NCAA’s and I was pretty focused on one goal at a time, so he submitted my athletic resume for me. They ended up contacting me and asking me to try out, so I tried out in the fall of 2007 and haven’t left. I fell in love with the sport and pursued that path instead.
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
What’s pretty awesome is Lolo Jones came out for our team last year, as well as Tianna Madison, and now we have Lauryn Williams. I’ve been a huge fan of Lolo and for her to be my direct teammate and friend throughout this past year has been super awesome and not anything I ever expected. I’ve learned a lot from her. She’s extremely humble in our sport and just soaks up information. She has a lot of experience she brings to the table as well. Last year was my second season on the World Cup. Lolo’s my brakeman and she was only in the sport for two and half weeks when we came away with a silver medal.
How do you prepare for a really big race or event?
At a competition I have to have music. It’s something that just helps fuel me. I always have to rock out to Bob [Marley]. It’s in my roots. My dad’s Jamaican. Some rituals: I like to wear all black under my suit. For me, black is like a warrior—in the zone, ready for battle. But I also like some subtle swag, so I’m an accessories kind of chick. I have a lime green watch and I paint my nails gold and lime green—gold for victory, lime green for my bobsled color.
What was it like with Lolo being so new?
You get to choose who you race with: brakemen have driver choice and drivers have brakemen choice, so it’s kind of like a prom. You’re like, “Hey, do you possibly want to race with me?” Brakemen have that first six seconds, and usually it’s less than that, at the top of the hill to show what they’ve got athletically, and then it’s up to the pilot to maintain it. When I raced with Lolo in team trials, I was super impressed. I’ve seen her compete in hurdles and be super resilient—she’s been knocked down, suffered from injury, and gets back up. At the line, we had that bond right away.
Written on April 24, 2013 at 9:28 am , by Lauren Cardarelli
A lot has changed for skier Picabo Street since she took the Olympics by storm in the 1998 Super G. The gold medalist—who just last week was announced to be an analyst for Fox Sports’ Sochi 2014 Winter Games coverage—has transitioned to fit, working mommyhood by taking up a new taekwondo passion with her 9-year-old son and avoiding her kids’ leftovers at all costs. Read on to find out what she loves the most about her kick-ass routine, what she’s working on now and more.
- What was your favorite Olympic moment?
Surprisingly enough, my silver medal win in Lillehammer, because it was when I realized that I could do it and that I was Olympic caliber and that the gold was within my reach.
- Where do you keep you medals?
I rotate them around from safe place to safe place with lots of sharing in the meantime.
- How did you overcome the pressures of being such a young U.S. ski team member and then later on from your sponsors?
I always expected more from myself than anyone else did, so my pressure was greater, therefore easier to deal with. I looked at my coaches as partners and teammates and had more of a collaborative relationship with them, therefore, they were all a part of my victories, too.
- Was there one challenging moment in your past that really helped you to build a thick skin and to become the resilient spirit you are today?
Resiliency comes out of struggle usually and for me, mine was self-inflicted—showing up to U.S. Ski Team camp in 1990 out of shape and with a bad attitude. I realized then it would be up to me to get in shape, change my attitude and make my dreams come true. It was the door on the path to that dream closing in my face that forced me to be resilient.
- Any fitness-related goals you have your eye on now? What mantra helps you push through your workout?
Be a black belt in taekwondo. What I love about taekwondo is that I miss the workout, because I am too busy trying to kick and punch correctly! What gets me to the gym: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Once I’m at the gym: “Focus on what I have control over, anything else is just stress.”
Picabo has teamed up with Team USA sponsor Liberty Mutual Insurance to announce the search for 2013’s “Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments,” simple acts of sportsmanship and selflessness that occur on youth sports fields. “It’s a great cause and one near and dear to my heart as a mother of four boys who love to play sports,” she said. To submit a moment, go to ResponsibleSports.com or tweet a nomination using #RSMoments.
More from FITNESS:
- Ice Skating Legend Kristi Yamaguchi Dishes on the Winter Olympics & DWTS
- Pro Tennis Star Vika Azarenka on Staying Positive and Keeping Workouts Fun
- Olympic Gymnast McKayla Maroney on Getting Back Into the Gym and Finally Being Impressed
Written on March 15, 2013 at 9:31 am , by Samantha Shelton
Anyone who knows anything about ice skating knows about Kristi Yamaguchi and her gold-medal victory at the 1992 Olympics. Since then, the figure skater has been actively involved in the sport, created a foundation that supports children’s education and inspiration, and won the sixth season of Dancing with the Stars. Yep, it’s safe to call her a rock star.
These days, Yamaguchi’s joined Team Kellogg’s, where she’ll be mentoring athletes hoping to make the journey to Sochi in 2014. While some may think it’s a bit early to be chatting about the Winter Games, we think the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Catch up on what else Yamaguchi is up to, then get a head start on meeting the athletes she’s hoping to coach all the way to the Olympic podium. While all your friends are in the dark, you’ll be the fountain of knowledge they turn to. Look at you, smarty pants.
Tell me a bit about Team Kellogg’s. Whose faces can we expect to see?
I’m the co-captain of the team, along with Jim Craig, the goalie from the 1980 Miracle team. The other athletes are all Olympic hopefuls, who will probably be competing and representing Team USA in the Sochi Games next winter.
It really is. Team Kellogg’s is all about following these athletes as they start their journey for getting ready for Sochi. I mean, of course they’ve been getting ready for years, but now fans can follow along. Kellogg’s Facebook page will have video clips of their stories, training tips and nutrition advice straight from the pros.
That will definitely be fun. Any other fun features?
You can find out how these athletes got their start – who was the coach who first got them going, which people gave them inspiration and, of course, what breakfast does to fuel their start.
So are you and Jim mentors, then, as accomplished athletes yourself?
Yeah, in a sense. Jim and I have been there, we’ve experienced the Olympics and know what they’re going through. We hope to encourage them to keep dreaming big, and we want to be there to give whatever advice we can to help prepare them for what lies ahead.
Written on November 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
Meryl Davis and Charlie White aren’t your typical college students. In between their studies at the University of Michigan, the most decorated U.S. ice dance team squeezes in agility, cardio and weight training, along with over five hours of ice time a day. A rigorous schedule—and resulting podium success—is nothing new for the duo. For 16 years now, Meryl and Charlie have been rising in the ranks together, taking home silver in the Vancouver Olympics and becoming the first U.S. ice dancing team to win World Championship gold.
Days before stopping by our office, the ice dancers added yet another accolade to their collection, their third Skate America crown for first place short and free dances in Kent, Washington. Now that’s how you start off the 2012-2013 season! We sat down with the champions, who dished their partnership secrets and training strategies for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Here’s what they had to say (and more!):
What is the biggest difference between ice dancing and pair skating?
CW: In ice dance it’s much more what you would imagine ballroom dancing to be. Closer positions, we’re holding each other like a lot of shows that you see, like So You Think You Can Dance…It’s sort of like that on ice, in a lot of respects, with the lifts that we do and some of the musical choices even, it’s comparable. In pairs, it’s more throwing the partner, lifting them above the head.
MD: We’re much more performance-based, for example we’re allowed to use lyrics in the music that we use, whereas pair skating they have to use instrumental music. It’s much more based on the elements for them, whereas for us, we’re trying to tell a story on the ice. It’s more about general impact, as opposed to going from one thing after another.
Walk us through your typical workout.
MD: We skate five days a week so we get the weekends off, which is nice, but typically we start on the ice around 7 or 8 a.m. Usually we’ll have an hour break somewhere in there, whether it’s an hour straight or two half-hour breaks, but we go for about five hours, sometimes six. When we’re done on the ice, we have a gym upstairs in the same facility where we workout and do some kind of cardio—3 days a week—weight training, agility, things like that. We throw some ballet in there sometimes, too. We avoid it at all costs.
CW: Yeah, [ballet] is a necessary evil for us. It’s never something we’ve embraced but it really helps with the skating, the posture, stuff like that.
MD: Our program this year is actually one of the most classical ballets, Giselle, so when we officially decided on doing that music this year, we unfortunately realized we weren’t going to avoid ballet this season.
CW: I do a lot of lifts with Meryl so it’s important that I have good shoulder stability so we’ll lay down a ladder, for instance, and do sort of agility. I’ll hold a kettlebell while I do it to sort of make sure I can transfer onto the ice that same sort of just balance and yet the strength with my shoulder…the most important thing is for skaters, especially, is just the core and making sure we’re strong through the core. Read more
Written on November 28, 2012 at 11:39 am , by FITNESS Intern
Written by Jennifer Fiorentino, editorial intern
Olympic gold and bronze medalist Kelly Clark is considered to be the greatest female snowboarder of all time. Kelly, a three-time Olympic team member, has won every major snowboarding event and title in the history of the sport. She was the first woman to land the 1080 in competition! We spoke with the Olympic veteran about training, fuel and success. Here’s what we learned:
Do you have a fitness motto? Train smarter, not harder. Include rest days and hard fitness.
Tell us about your diet. What are some healthy eating tips you try to live by?
Just eating healthy isn’t enough…It’s really about recovery food and keeping my energy levels up while I am being active. I eat a lot of meat. My body responds well to protein. Chicken, beef, coupled with salad and veggies.
What is your go-to post workout fuel? Chocolate milk.
What is your favorite moment in your snowboarding career? I’ve had a very long career; this will be 14th X Games. I would say winning the Olympic gold medal when I was 18 in my home country— that would be the pinnacle of my career.
You are considered to be one of the greatest female riders in history. How do you feel about that? There are a lot of riders who inspired me; they showed me what is possible to do on a snowboard. At the same time I want to continue to be successful. It’s not about doing well but staying motivated.
How have do you deal with the pressure of this title? It is something that you learn. It look me 15 years of competing to figure it out…I think the core of my success comes from the fact that I am very comfortable in my own skin. I also set goals that I am happy with achieving. This model has lead to a lot of consistency. I am doing things because I want to, because it is a goal. Being internally motivated is key.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not on the slopes? I like to read, play the guitar and fix my home. In the summer I enjoy outdoor sports that are all training-related like surf trips. I have been surfing since I was 12.
Do you have a favorite surf spot? Destination: Nicaragua. I went there this past summer and I loved it.
What is one insider secret you have to share? I would encourage people to figure out who they are apart from what they do. Learn to operate from that place of identity not search for it.
Why is the Kelly Clark Foundation and giving back so important to you?
I received a lot of help along the way and I had a lot of people believing in me. I took a step back and looked at my career. I began to think about how I could have a lasting impact and the Kelly Clark Foundation does just that. It is now an accessible sport to everyone and that’s what I wanted to make possible.
Kelly is set to compete in the upcoming Winter Dew Tour, Winter X Games, the U.S. Open and the 2014 Olympics. Learn more about the Kelly Clark Foundation and stay up to date with the snowboard legend’s upcoming season on Facebook and Twitter.
Written on August 10, 2012 at 8:33 am , by Marianne Magno
Summer may be Olympic Snowboarder Torah Bright’s downtime, but she already has the 2014 Winter Games on her mind. This summer, when she’s not on the beach, she’s doing something active like bike riding, tennis, yoga or doing some plyometric work on her own, then it’s off to New Zealand for training to qualify for the next winter Olympics. She talked to us about preparing for the Games, her favorite Olympic moments and designing her line of snowboarding gear for Roxy, the Roxy Bright Edition.
How do you gear up for a winter competition?
“I practice on the snow and ride a bike and do yoga to work off the lactic acid that builds up throughout the day. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but three hours of working on tricks and hiking up the pike is draining.”
What body parts are important for snowboarding?
“It’s whole body. You don’t use your upper body per se but it’s part of your motions. You can hurt your shoulders so it’s important to keep that strong. The main focus is on the legs, butt, abs for sure. But you can hurt your shoulders and arms easily, too. When you’re stronger overall, the less harmful your injuries are.” Read more