JILL KINTNER – THE INTERVIEW
“Bikes are fun and everyone knows it!”
Jill Kintner…. Three time 4x World Champion… multiple Downhill World Cup podium finisher and … Olympic bronze medalist!
With so much success throughout her career it’s no wonder Jill Kintner is considered a legend in and out of the biking world! She has the ability to handle anything on two wheels and the skill to do it in style! Kintners career hasn’t been without its tough times, but her strong will and determination definitely shawn through in these times and led her to achieve some of her biggest achievement!
Hi Jill it’s clear that you’re a natural on a bike, something that is demonstrated by your ability to ride just about every discipline but where did it all begin? How did you get into the riding and racing scene?
Bike riding started in my neighbourhood. I was the only girl, and my older brother and his friends all rode bikes, so of course I did as well. My mom said I rode without training wheels when I was 2. I have seen pictures at our local BMX track when I was 4 mobbing down the massive start ramp, feet off the pedals loving it. So I guess it might have always been a part of my life.
After 3 national titles in 1 weekend! A podium in Leogang you must be feeling pretty pumped about racing at the moment?
Yes, I’ve had a really good year! Stoked to be getting these results and also spreading my wings a bit in other areas. I kind of miss racing the best girls in the world, but picking and choosing events has always been a good formula for me. The international travel back to back is not my favourite part anymore, so I’m glad the U.S. National series is gaining ground as a premiere series to follow again, and that I have the luxury to go to events I like.
In 2014 it was announced that you and your husband Bryn would no longer be racing world cups, was this a decision that you later regretted after deciding to make a return to the world cup scene in for the 3rd round in Leogang. Or was it always the plan just to do a few rounds in the 2015 season?
It’s a long story, but things change. Bryn didn’t want to race world cups anymore, and I just didn’t want to go to Europe as much. Another team was hired to race world cups for Norco, so our program changed a bit. It worked out decent in the end, but I had a lot of mixed emotion about it that I had to work through after getting a few WC podiums the previous year.
Can we expect to see you back full time on the world cup scene full time in 2016?
Probably not. I don’t really need another result to feel good about my career, the main thing that motivates me is riding better, and helping others. The drive to race pushes me to be disciplined and break comfort levels which in turn makes me better, but we will see what happens next.
After being part of a team for so long did it feel strange being in Austria without your usual team support?
Yeah. It was really hard emotionally. I feel like I deserve full support, but Austria proved that I have all the support within, plus good equipment and friends around me. Nothing easy is worth having, so it’s the struggles sometimes that mean the most. Mentally I was really free and had fun riding as well. Red bull is from Austria as well, so I feel really safe and protected there because of them. They always have my back, and I love them for that.
You began your career in BMX and then made the full switch to mountain biking in 2004, then went back to BMX in 2008 for the Olympics. What made you make the switch initially? Then what made you go back in 2008?
I didn’t really want to make the switch back to BMX initially, just because there wasn’t really support or infrastructure in place, and MTB opened my eyes a lot to proper ways of training and professionalism. I had gained really good sponsors like Red Bull and GT from my MTB success, so they gave me a chance to pursue the Olympic Dream the right way.
I guess I was also a bit bored in 4x after 3 consecutive world titles, and my dad really wanted me to pursue the Olympic thing as he thought lots of doors would open. I was up for the challenge only after my dad passed away. I was lost without him for a while and made the decision to go for it for him, and all the time we put in getting to that point. He really thought I could do it, and was right! I wish now that he could know that I did it.
You’ve had such an amazing career so far from Olympic BMX medals to multiple 4x World Championship wins, but what has been the highlight so far?
Olympics for sure. There is nothing like that experience, and the reach it gives you as a professional athlete to have a voice. Plus it’s so damn difficult to do and manage the pressure and expectation that people know Olympic medallists are unique and work hard.
As much as we love riding, time off the bike is essential too! What do you do to unwind off the bike?
I like being at home, walking the dog, being with my friends, coffee shops, making art etc.
Jill, you’ve ridden all over the world but if you had to choose a favourite place to ride where would it be?
Washington is my fav, so I’m lucky to live there.
The girls world cup scene seems pretty friendly and all the girls seems really supportive of each other, but ultimately you are all there to win, does it ever get really competitive amongst the girls?
Yeah for sure. I’m glad it seems friendly :) the girls are all really nice, and since it’s not head to head racing, you can be civil. There are a few gems in the lot of course, but I personally am way too competitive to really be close friends or give away any advantage to direct competitors, so I guess there is that. In non-race settings I really like them all. Canadians and Aussies are good fun.
We can’t not mention the growth in the female mountain biking. What do you think has caused this movement in the growth of female cycling?
Bikes are fun, and everyone knows it!
After such success throughout your career how do you manage to stay grounded?
I realize it is just bike racing, and important things are people, relationships, as well as being a kind person. Beyond that, Winning is more fun than losing, so I work as hard as I can with my training and any weaknesses, and strive to be the best I can be. That’s it. The rest happens however it’s gonna happen.
Nutrition is a big thing for us here at MTB Girls Ride and the right foods when training is essential. Do you stick to a specific diet when training?
No, I just eat healthy, and fuel properly. Your body knows what it needs, and it takes a lot of refinement to feel really good throughout a season. I’m not perfect, but I do go out of my way to take care of my body because it works hard for me and deserves the best energy.
Finally Jill, what advice would you give to any girls looking to break onto the riding and racing scene?
Don’t be scared to learn. Take advantage of mistakes, ask questions, try things, and love the joy of free speed. J
Thanks Jill, and good luck for the rest of the 2015 season