‘Flex your empowered muscle.’ Christina Smith – Olympic athletes interviewed Episode 107
Christina Smith, Olympian, author, and speaker outlines how she got selected for the bobsled team, how she participated in the inaugural bobsled event at the Olympics and the importance of empowerment for athletes.
Furthermore, we discuss
- How she got into bobsleigh
- The moment she heard, that she will participate in the inaugural bobsleigh event at the Olympics
- Her darkest moment
- Her best moment
- Her advice to a younger Christina Smith
- Her success habits
- Her role model
- Her upcoming book “Empowerment – Explore, Transform, Flourish”
- Her interview nomination
- Where can you find Christina Smith
Christian: Today I’m joined by Christina Smith. Christina is Olympian 2002 representing Canada in bobsleigh. Christina is now an author and a speaker. Welcome, Christina. 00:0016
Christina: Thank you so much, Christian, a pleasure to be here.
How she got into bobsleigh
Christian: Christina, how did you get into bobsleigh?
Christina: Having been one of the world’s pioneers, let’s say it was uncharacteristic. I was at university and I saw a guy walking around in a pair of tights and holding onto a motorcycle helmet.
It was in the middle of winter, so it looked a little bizarre for a guy with tights. I started thinking that he couldn’t be on his motorcycle because there was snow outside. I, therefore, wondered what this guy did.
He started to tell me about this crazy sport that was extreme with crashes, ice burns, and concussions. Then he started to tell me that I have a good set of legs on me and that they were looking for women. I thought it was like he was asking me to be an astronaut.
I disregarded his comments and really forgot about it. But a few months later, I was asked to model in a fashion show and I showed up at the location and he was there. I asked him what he was doing there.
He told me that he hired my modeling team to help him with his fundraiser for his bobsled team. During the course of the event, I had a friend come to watch and she won a door prize.
It was a one-year free bobsleigh club membership. She gave it to me because I had said that this man wanted me to try and that was back in 1992. That was really the start of my life change.
That one moment was very pivotal, but, of course, now, that’s not how you recruit women for the sport. Back then, if you had a good set of legs and you asked them if they were fast, crazy, and courageous, then you were a candidate.
Back in 1992, if you had a good set of legs and you asked them if they were fast, crazy, and courageous, then you were a candidate.
Christian: Of course. Did you do any other sports before that has helped?
Christina: I started skiing at the age of two, because my relatives from great grandpa all the way up to my father, who was a big influence did that every weekend. I became a ski instructor.
Of course, the powerful legs and just learning about timing, precision, accuracy, endurance and it was very big sport that I grew up with. Also, I was into dancing as well. I learned a lot about balance and coordination.
Everything in sport revolves a lot around the foundational tools that we need. Gymnastics was a big one. I would recommend gymnastics to every child.
- Also check out the interviews ‘Dream big, work hard, believe you can do it.’ With two-time Olympic champion Mariana Pajón and ‘Sometimes you have to push beyond what people believe is possible.’ With Olympic champion Lydia Lassila, who both outline that doing gymnastics has greatly contributed to their sporting successes.
That should be a foundational physical exercise that children get introduced to just for developing flexibility and routine and discipline.
The moment she heard, that she will participate in the inaugural bobsleigh event at the Olympics
Christian: You participated in the inaugural bobsleigh event at the Olympics in 2002. How and when did you find out about it and how did it make you feel?
Christina: It was October 2nd, 1999, and I was actually at Canada Olympic Park. The way we celebrated was we ran across to the McDonald’s and got an ice cream cone. We went and sat in front of the Olympic sign that hosted our city as the Olympic site for 1988.
It was the cone that was like a spiral cone, like a flame. I remember sitting there with a friend and just that little token milestone moment of hearing about it and from there, life just totally changed.
Her darkest moment
Christian: So let’s go from a good moment to a bad moment. What was your darkest moment as an athlete?
Christina: It was probably hearing of the death of one of my friends, Yvonne Cernota from the German team. Actually, she flew out of the track in Berchtesgaden, she crashed and died. That was probably the darkest moment.
One of my friends, Yvonne Cernota, flew out of the track, she crashed and died.
Christian: How did you recover from it?
Christina: How did I recover? I don’t know if I have. You are just seeing emotions right now coming up. I never had that fear sliding, ever, and I never thought I would hurt myself like that. I never thought I would die. I just never had that in my mindset.
My mindset was the strongest thing possible. That was a bit of a deal-breaker with myself. That really put me back. I had the ability to apply it to the actual sport, to be able to slide again after hearing that news.
My mindset was the strongest thing possible. I had the ability to apply it to the actual sport.
That is more a hard emotion that I’m experiencing right now, but to be able to overcome this, to be able to be the athlete and that mindset and that strength to overcome thinking about it and things like that. That’s something that you have to flex your mindset muscle. You have to develop that over time.
Her best moment
Christian: What was your best moment?
Christina: Walking into the opening ceremony at the Olympic Games. It was the absolute epic moment when you walk in and the place is just vibrating with cheers and people are out of their seats.
I had a hand up and I did not put it down from waving the entire lap of the entire stadium. My face was stretching with smiles and it was overwhelming. Just talking about it, I can feel the emotions again. Now, you’re asking me the right questions. There are many emotions. These are the happy emotions.
Her advice to a younger Christina Smith
Christian: So let’s go back. What advice would you give a younger you if you could travel back in time? Let’s say 15 or 20 years. What advice would you give if you meet your younger self?
Christina: Flex your empowered muscle and learn how to do things for yourself. There are a lot of mentors and there are a lot of people that want to help you in life but it’s so important that you actually learn the process of figuring things out on your own.
Flex your empowered muscle and learn how to do things for yourself.
Figuring out is the beauty. It’s the journey of your life and if somebody hand feeds you the information and puts it in your mind and teaches you everything you need to know, it’s like spoon-feeding a baby.
You have to go through an experience and learn from it. People can guide you, but not hold you and carry you. It’s really important that you really learn about relying on yourself.
The worst service that a coach can do to an athlete is to disempower them. You take away everything that an athlete could actually learn by doing these things and being independent. It’s so important for a coach to drive that message to their athletes.
The highlight of any coach that they should be aiming for is the day that they cannot appear at the point of competition and that athlete does not crumble. That athlete is prepared and they thrive and they’re successful, and they thank their coach that they feel prepared.
Her success habits
Christian: What are the habits that make you a successful athlete and person?
Christina: Definitely my environment. The environment for success and being prepared. For example, it is having everything you need to be done prepared from the night before. You can’t be scrambling in the morning because that’s most likely where you’ll be forgetting things.
Knowing what you’re going to be eating, as a routine for success, so you’re not experimenting on what you’re going to put into your body if you really rely on it. This is your machine and your temple.
- Also check out the interview ‘Set goals and structure your life.’ With three-time World champion Anneke Beerten, who explains the importance of preparing everything the night before.
Eating the proper foods that fuel yourself accordingly and having your environment. It is also having things around that stimulate you for your optimum performance or just your mindset.
Her role model
Christian: Who is your role model and why?
Christina: The first person that came to my mind is me because that’s the only person I’m in control of. I have to be my own role model, but if I were to say my original ultimate role model has really been my parents.
I am the only person I’m in control of. I have to be my own role model.
They’re both so hard working and my dad just never quits. He was the first part-time ski instructor ever to achieve a Level four in the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance, which is the highest level for ski instructors.
My grandpa, who was a pioneer in helping the development of the ski industry in Canada and he was a role model as well, paving new trails in the industry. My grandmother just turned a hundred last week. She’s been in my life forever.
She’s always told me that the world is my oyster. She told me not to let anything stop me. My mother has just been my pillar and my rock in my life. She is so loving and caring.
I’ve been so fortunate to have so much love in my life and so many role models that I do think of myself as being my ultimate role model because they’ve taught me a lot. They taught me to rely on myself, just learn things and never give your power away.
Christian: That is really cool.
Her upcoming book “Empowerment – Explore, Transform, Flourish”
Christian: That also leads into the book that you have coming out called “Empowerment” with the subtitle “Explore, Transform, Flourish”. What is the book about and what does the reader get?
Christina: It’s a combination of what we’ve been speaking about. It’s “Empowered” and it really says what it does. Everything that I’ve gone through, whether it was negative or positive, has empowered me.
Everything that I’ve gone through, whether it was negative or positive, has empowered me.
It made me who I am today. It’s made me stronger. A lot of people think that negative experiences, they wouldn’t wish them upon anybody. Yes, we can look at it like that, but the thing is the experience has happened.
How can we recreate it or make lemons into lemonade? It’s really important that we proceed in our life with that state of mind. A lot of people find they get depressed and they get locked into a story and in their life, they repeat that story.
What’s in your mind is so important and you have to be very disciplined throughout your life to not dwell on the negativity of things. It’s about converting or changing that state of mind into a positive state of mind. When I think of the book, it’s laid out in a way that each chapter has certain strengths or reflections that I’ve had on my life.
Her interview nomination
Christian: Do you want to nominate someone to be interviewed?
Christina: I have an ultimate mentor. When I think of anybody that has been inspirational in my life, it has been this man and his name is Jungle Jim Hunter. He was the original, “Crazy Canuck” alpine ski racer.
He has been my inspiration. I actually was his co-host on a radio show that he used to do called the “Jungle Jim Hunter Show”.
Where can you find Christina Smith
Christian: Where can people find you?
Christina: I have a website, authorchristinasmith.com, that’s a landing page for my book. I can also give you a special link that we can post for people to be able to either get a copy, a digital copy, or it would be great to have them even wanting a purchased copy.
Whatever they’d like, I’d love the support. I’ll be doing some additional things from consultation to workshops, podcasts, and various things in association with the book. It’s a new journey for me and you’re an inspiration, Christian. I’m sure I’ll be looking for some mentorship around what you’re doing and how you’re succeeding.
I am on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Christina Smith’s social profiles
Christian: Christina, thanks so much for your time.
Christina: It was my pleasure. If ever you need me to speak on other topics, I’d be more than happy. I have a plethora.
One thing that I will say, Christian, is it’s not about being an Olympian that’s important. It’s about how you give back to the world with your title to make a difference.
- Also check out ‘Olympic champion is not a status, it’s a philosophy of life.’ With Olympic champion and Volleyball Hall of Famer Vladimir Grbić, who also outlines the importance of giving back.