A year after the US’s Jamie Anderson became the first female gold medalist in slopestyle snowboarding, Patricia Carswell caught up with her at the Suzuki Nine Queens women’s freestyle event in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis in Austria and asked her about life after Sochi, keeping it real and handstands…
Q: How has life changed for you since Sochi?
A: Ah, Sochi! Life has been a bit busier – there’s been so much attention and everyone wants a little piece. I’ve been really trying to maintain myself and not get too caught up in my head. I’m so grateful and honoured to have all these opportunities. I’ve been doing things like going on Celebrity Apprentice with all that mainstream chaos, and it’s humbling because it made me realise how awesome the snowboard and ski community is, and living in the mountains and living around people that are real and down-to-earth. I’m trying to find the balance – to hold it down and keep it real and not get too caught up in my head.
Q: Are you training for the next Olympics yet?
I have to get ready for them but I’m so happy to learn some new tricks. This month has been all about building that relationship with myself and tapping into what I’m really capable of and what I want to do. I know I’m good at snowboarding but I think maybe, as a woman or whatever, it’s scary to push through that gentle, “Well, it’s fun, and I know I can do a seven, but I don’t want to send a 10”. But then I’m talented and I know if I have the strength and the power to trust myself I can do anything. It’s not for the attention or the ego, but how to uplift myself and my spirit and in turn inspire everyone around me to do what they love.
Q: How did you feel landing a frontside 1080 this week?
A: It’s scary – I get scared even talking about it. I landed my first front 10 in Breckenridge last week and I never thought I’d do that trick. It was so scary – I had to close my eyes – but coming here I knew it was what I wanted to do. I just had to have that self-motivation, to get out there. Yesterday’s sunrise session was so magical and everyone was just enjoying it and I was, like, “Game on”. I love it and now I feel I can hopefully bring it to more events, but it takes time and my neck’s sore. I know I’m strong, but it’s the balance - I want to feel good when I’m old.
Q: How much of the sport is body and how much of it is mind?
A: My older sister told me when I was 10, “Snowboarding is 90% mental, 10% physical.” You can do anything – you just have to believe in it. And I’ve always thought that. I think with anything in life, we all have the power. It’s a matter of tapping into it and really believing in yourself.
Q: Is that balance reflected in your training?
Yes, I think so. I think just in my overall life, it’s about really knowing how powerful manifesting is and writing goals, and writing dreams and being positive. It’s so hard sometimes to stay positive, but when you’re positive it’s like, damn, life’s so good! We’re our biggest critics and I want to learn to love myself more and not be so judgmental and not be so hard on myself, but to really be kind to myself and help everyone in return. It’s like an infinite love that I’ll hopefully keep spreading. Even just when you see someone do something nice it makes you feel good, and we need more of that in life.
Q: Do you work out in addition to the time you spend on the slopes?
A: I sometimes work out. I’m based out of Tahoe and I’ve a good trainer there, so in the off season I’ll go and do more. I want to start lifting weights and building more muscle, because I mostly just do yoga and I’m pretty strong and limber from that, but I want to build more endurance and muscle, so I can do all these tricks without being so sore. I mountain bike, I run, I walk almost every morning, I paddle board on the lakes and I like to longboard through the neighbourhoods. I’ve gotten into boxing a little bit, which is so good for your heart and endurance - and good for self-defence! I’ve gotten into T’ai Chi and Qi Gong – I haven’t done a lot, but I think it’s really, really cool. And of course yoga – pranayama – I do a lot of breath work almost every day and I think it really helps clear my mind.
Q: Does yoga help you specifically with your sport?
A: Yes. I love doing a lot of balancing poses – I’ll do a handstand almost every day, and really try to engage my core and feel my whole body. I work a lot with all my chakra points, really connecting with my root chakra and engaging that so I have the strength to keep myself safe and have the power to hold my core, because snowboarding is so much the whole body.
Q: Does yoga help with the split-second judgments you have to make in the air?
A: Oh yes. You have to be really sharp and on point, so to really have that calmness helps a lot. I still get nervous, but the yoga, and using essential oils and drinking tea is my own little technique – everyone’s got their own.
Q: Do you follow a special diet?
A: Yeah, I don’t do much grains. My goal would be to have a plant-based diet – I’d like to be able to eat no animals and get it all from my garden - but clearly living in the mountains right now I have to do some protein. I mostly do good vegetables and protein and juice and tea - and beer if I want! I try to keep it good, but not too strict – the 80:20 rule, I call it.
Q: How have you enjoyed Nine Queens?
A: This is my first time at Suzuki Nine Queens, so I was extremely excited to come out. It’s so inspiring to see such an amazing group of women athletes come together and have a beautiful castle jump to ride on. I’m so happy to be able to progress the sport, because really that’s what we all want. We want to come together and ride and have fun. It’s so amazing to get out of the contest scene and just play. I would love to see there being less FIS [Fédération Internationale de Ski] events and I’d like to make snowboarding more creative. We’re all artists – we’re creative and we want to present more gymnastic stuff – it’s all about the style. I’m thankful for the opportunities to do snowboarding, but my intentions are to hopefully change it for the future for the younger generations to really be able to blossom.