Getting 'lowballed' is one of the most challenging things about being a woman in sports, says Olympian Lindsey Jacobellis

Rachel Grumman Bender
(Photo: Getty Images; Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle)

Lindsey Jacobellis is the perfect example of why you shouldn’t give up. The pro snowboarder, a competitor at this year’s Winter Olympics, admits she “wasn’t really good a snowboarding” when she first took up the sport at age 10, after her big brother Ben introduced her to it. But she didn’t quit. Instead, Jacobellis spent years honing her skills in Stratton, Vermont, and entered her first X Games competition at 15 years old.

Now, at 32 years old, Jacobellis — dubbed “the most decorated woman in snowboard cross” by NBC — is considered an Olympic veteran. She’s attended four Olympic games and nabbed the silver medal in 2006, making her the only American to earn an Olympic medal in women’s snowboard cross. She’s also a five-time world champion and 10-time X Games gold medalist.

Not bad for someone who didn’t click with snowboarding in the beginning. Here, Yahoo Lifestyle chats with Jacobellis about what it’s like to be a woman in the sport and what she always takes with her to the Olympics.

Yahoo Lifestyle: What’s the first thing you do in the morning to mentally get ready for the day?
Lindsey Jacobellis: I actually get a lot of my stuff all ready the night before so there’s not too much of a scramble in the morning — that way I’m always buffering for time. I’m definitely a morning person. In the winter, it’s a little challenging to get up early because it’s darker. But once I’m up, it doesn’t take me a long time to get ready. I have trouble staying awake past 8pm.

What’s your favorite go-to healthy breakfast?
A: If I’m lucky, eggs and then I make a croissant sandwich with cheese and hopefully a muesli-type granola cereal and coffee. I have all of my protein bars that I carry with me. But if I’m at home, I’d have scrambled eggs with scallions and mushrooms over rice cakes. So it’s heartier and gives me some carbs.

Have you had moments during training when you felt it was too hard? And if so, how did you push through that?
Usually if I’m having a reaction like that it’s some emotional flare up and just a byproduct of something else, so I try to recognize that. What’s really bothering me? How are we going to tactfully – we meaning me – get over that, whether it’s just a skill you’re working on or if you need to try it on a different day, move on, and work on something else.

Lindsay Vonn said she’s representing America, not Donald Trump. Who are you representing — your president, your country, your family, your friends — at the Olympics?
I would like to represent myself and being a good American, just showing how much I’m dedicated to my sport and representing the U.S. as a nation.

Did you see the Golden Globes during which many celebrities wore black to show solidarity for women and men who have been victims of sexual harassment and abuse? If you could wear black, would you?
Of course. But we’re not supposed to be doing any political statements. I agree with that because that’s not why we’re there. We’re there as athletes coming together and showing the world what we’ve been training for for the last 4 years. It’s supposed to be a time of peace and honoring other athletes who have worked their hardest to get that moment.

What is it like to be a woman in the world of sports? Do you feel like you’re treated any differently?
It can be a little challenging sometimes. It can be hard to get in a voice when you’re trying to represent boardercross [a snowboarding competition] and communicate with course builders. They’ll now ask how is this flowing for the ladies? That makes me feel good that they’re valuing my opinion and respecting the athlete that I am. There’s always the struggle to get paid what you should. It’s hard to know exactly what everyone is getting paid. When you get lowballed and are trying to work with sponsors, that can be a very challenging moment.

But I’m trying to give back to my sport and create an all-female boardercross. Getting an event out there like this will boost women in boardercross. We’re already seeing an excellent jump in the skills that are coming into play. Getting a race behind it as well can help put it on the map. The event is March 17 at Big Bear Mountain – Supergirl Pro and Am. I’m trying to get top boardercross ladies and have amateur girls interacting. It’s not going to be a super high-end race with coaches; it’s more about giving to that younger generation and helping them get involved in the sport and see what they can aspire to. We can have women CEOs show up at the event. I’ve seen events like this with surfing. It’s something I’m passionate about. I really want my sport to continue to grow, especially on the female side.

What’s the most unexpected item you’ll pack or have packed for the Olympics?
I always bring these funky medical things. They make fun of me, but then they ask me for it, like moleskin. I have a fully stocked medical kit. I also bring an air diffuser. We have to share a lot of common space and it tends to not feel very clean or fresh, and people can get sick. It helps clean out the air and make it fresh.

Is there anything you do to feel feminine or to stand out when you’re covered in layers?
I made a bunch of my own neck warmers. I don’t know if I’ll be allowed to race in them because it won’t really be the uniform. But if they don’t give us one … I tried to pick a material that has stretch and wicking and found this elastic rayon so it doesn’t hold the moisture or freeze against my face. I picked fun patterns like a zebra and sequin — something with a splash of flare. I like to race with lipstick. We are so covered up, and when I pull down my neck warmer it’s that feminine flare. The color I use now is called Liberator [by Hourglass Girl Lip Stylo] — that’s the color tone.

If you won, who’d you dedicate your medal to and why?
That’s so hard because so many people who contributed to my success. It would have to do a ‘timeshare.’ There are people who found me and people who molded me and my current coaches, who have been with me for forever so it’s really hard to say. The easiest thing would be my parents. They really supported this unique path.

When did you start riding/snowboarding?
I stared when I was like 10 or 11. But I didn’t really pick it up until a couple of years into it. I was skiing, and I wasn’t really good at snowboarding. That’s what happens with snowboarding — you struggle and then all of a sudden it just happens. I slowly got into little local events that helped me progress and get more recognition.

What do you for self-care after the Olympics?
I love to come back to my new home and spend some time with my friends and family. I think I will be flying a couple of my best girlfriends out to California and just have some beach time — no schedules, no appointments. I think that will be very much needed.

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