Q&A: Kayaker Emily Jackson

Catching up with world champion freestyle kayaker Emily Jackson

Surf and Sports // Samantha Negrin // 04/30/12
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Samantha Negrin

Not everyone grows up home schooled in an RV with an Olympic athlete as a father, but Emily Jackson has been traveling from river to river across the country competing in freestyle kayaking since she was twelve years old. Today, Emily continues life on the road and has recently earned herself a seat on the USA Canoe/Kayak Team. Here, we talk with Emily about her upcoming opportunity to win a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

Do you prefer freestyle kayaking or slalom racing?
My lifestyle is based more on freestyle, the slalom crowd is a whole other mentality—a bit more structured and disciplinary. When I started to have fun with kayaking, competition wasn't too difficult because I was always competing with myself on the water anyway.

Congratulations on your opportunity for the U.S. Olympic Team! How do you hope this will change your career?
Whether I make it or not, it will be a positive experience and will be life changing. It would be a huge honor to represent our country, if I don't get this one I promise I'll be in the Olympics one day!

What is your typical physical training routine for a big event?
I paddle well when I'm not necessarily training; I'm just doing what I do best, which is kayaking. I remind myself that it's just another day of kayaking, only this time many more people will be watching. I eat healthy, run and road bike to keep my endurance up.

What is your most embarrassing moment during training so far?
I don't get embarrassed very easily—I'm the type of person that comes dressed up and makes a fool of myself. My dad has a crazy sense of humor and sometimes gets on the microphone when I'm competing and makes up this crazy stuff about me just to make it weird.

What are you going to pack for the Olympics if you go?
I will be bringing a robe so I feel like a queen, my Kindle so I can pass hours of time sitting in my robe reading, my dogs and my husband would be good too. That way he can figure out how to do everything else.

What is your favorite location for kayaking?
A place that stands out to me is Uganda, Africa. You feel like a spec of sand in this huge white water while paddling on the mighty White Nile. It's really exciting to be immersed in that large body of water; you are unable to see other paddlers because the waves are so tall. I also really enjoy visiting there because the Soft Power Health Clinic is very close to my heart.

Do you have any rituals you do before a race to amp yourself up?
I usually get in the water early in the morning and paddle around. My husband likes pump-up music so when we're racing on the same day we usually hang out in our sprinter RV listening to techno or Muhammad Ali quotes.

FOAM has a history of interviewing Olympic stars! Check out our feature on Gretchen Bleiler now!

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