Photo credit: Peter Maxwell Morning
As a kid, I always dreamed of going to the Olympic Games. How special must it be to represent your country and compete against the top athletes in the world? Spencer O’Brien made her Olympic debut last year in Sochi, Russia where she represented Canada in the slopestyle discipline and placed 12th overall. Watching her compete at both the Olympics and also the Winter X Games, I’ve always been impressed by her calm and laid back attitude. She always seemed like such a positive and cool competitor. Last weekend, I had the privilege of meeting and working out with Spencer during the Nike Women 15k race weekend in Toronto. I must say, she is just as amazing in person! Spencer will be heading to the Southern Hemisphere to resume training later this summer. Her next goal: learning a 1080, 3 full rotations! Couldn’t be more stoked that she took a few minutes to chat with me last weekend. Hope you’ll enjoy my 5 Questions With Spencer O’Brien:
1) What first got you into snowboarding?
I’m from Vancouver Island originally so we grew up in a town that’s close to Mount Washington, which is the only resort on the island. We just started skiing as a family, so it was something to do with my family on the weekends. I eventually had the choice to continue skiing or start snowboarding, so I followed in my sister’s footsteps and took up snowboarding.
2) How much have you seen the sport evolve and grow since you started snowboarding? How much has the sport changed for women?
It’s been so incredible. There’s been so much evolution in women in sports in general in the last ten or fifteen years but to have been in such a young sport like snowboarding with such different dynamics than a traditional sport, it’s been incredible to see that progression. It’s an entirely different world from when I started and to see the women coming up now who are just pushing it so hard, it’s really incredible. It keeps me so interested in my sport because there’s always something new to try or something new to progress towards. I know wherever I take the sport, it’s going to get taken so much further by the women after me. That’s a really exciting thing.
3) There are so many incredible Canadian female snowboarders and skiers competing in slopestyle and halfpipe, how does that push you as an athlete?
It’s so cool, especially in these action sports where there aren’t as many women participating yet, you really find liaisons in other sports. So I’m really close to a lot of the female skiers and I find so much inspiration in what they’re doing. They’re maybe not doing the exact same sport as me but their goals are the same. They want to progress the sport and want to take it as far as they can. It’s definitely nice being a Canadian athlete and having so many women to look up to.
4) You went to your first Olympics in Sochi last year. You’re currently training to hopefully head back to the Olympics in South Korea in 2018. What do you want to do differently this time around?
The Sochi games were definitely trying for me, it didn’t go my way. It was such a unique experience. You do so much prep for it, trying to prepare for your first games but there’s really nothing like it. I learned so much from that experience and I feel a lot stronger for it. I’m really looking forward to just relaxing a little bit more in Korea and making it my own. I think just not looking to everyone else’s expectations as much and just doing it on my own terms. I’m really excited at a second shot at the games so hopefully I’m going to be representing Canada there.
5) Through snowboarding, you’ve had the chance to travel the world, what are some of the most memorable places you’ve visited thus far?
Japan was incredible, I loved snowboarding in Japan. The people and the culture there are so wonderful. I’m a really big fan of Europe. The Swiss Alps are some of my favorite places to ride. But also at home in Canada, I love Whistler. I’m such a BC girl, it’s always closest to my heart.