While Olympic athlete Spencer O’Brien didn’t reach the podium at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, her sport ‘ slopestyle snowboarding ‘ made quite the debut with Canada’s Mark McMorris winning a bronze medal in the men’s event. We spoke to O’Brien to ask her a few questions about the sport she loves, her training and staying healthy.
Best Health: This is the first year that Slopestyle Snowboarding is an Olympic event. What is it about your sport that you’re most excited for people to see at the Olympics?
Spencer O’Brien: The cool thing about slopestyle is that it’s always evolving and it’s always a different course. The courses are completely up to the builder’s imagination, so it keeps our sport really unique and interesting to watch, because different courses lend themselves differently to different people’s skills. You really just have to be prepared for anything ‘ that’s what I’m excited for people to see at the Olympics.
BH: What was the most important part of your training program in preparing for Sochi?
SO: I work with a sports psychologist weekly, and we’ve been working together for probably about five years. You just do a lot of visualization, a lot of getting yourself into that competitive mind space.
BH: What gets you out of bed to train on days that you just don’t feel like it?
SO: I was injured all spring and all summer and all fall. It was a really difficult time to be dealing with all those injuries and wondering if I’d be ready in time for the game. So right now I’m honestly just so happy to be riding again, and to be competing and to be doing what I love. It’s actually been quite a nice change of perspective for me to go from worrying so much about the Olympics to kind of just being grateful to be able to do what I do.
BH: What advice would you give someone who says they don’t have time to exercise?
SO: Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to carve out a huge amount of time to stay fit. Just adding short bursts of intense effort can fire up your metabolism and fast-track results. It’s efficient, burns more fat and as an added bonus it can help you fight stress. One program I love for this is the N+TC app, because you have the option of doing just a quick 15 minute workout whenever and wherever is convenient for you ‘ over your lunch break, at home before/after work, while travelling, etc. (O’Brien has developed a legs workout exclusive to the N+TC app. You can find it on the app under Get Focused.)
BH: What healthy snack do you always need to have close by?
SO: I make a green smoothie every morning with kale, spinach, apple, avocado, banana and pineapple.
BH: Do you have any tips for people who are just learning how to snowboard?
SO: Definitely a big thing from the beginning is to have good equipment. Even if you’re renting, try to rent better equipment, because it makes a world of a difference. Also, just stick with it. With snowboarding, the first few days are the hardest. It’s just really awkward at first because it’s not the natural way to stand at all. You just have to give it a little bit of time, but then you’ll love it after a few days!
Image courtesy of Nike Canada.