The Ice Queen

You remember our interview with Jamaican bobsledder Devon Harris, right? Well, Kelsey recently spoke with Olympian Jazmine Fenlator and picked her brain about her rise to Olympic fame, her plans for the future, and her New Jersey Pride. Bobsled pilot Fenlator is a beast on the track and an inspiration to all on the street. Did we mention all her fabulous awards? Well, they include two World Cups as well as a place in the 2014 Winter Olympics US team and a potential spot on Team Jamaica for 2018. We love hearing about talented women who go for what they want and come back victorious.

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♦Before your track coach suggested you go to bobsledding camp, did you have any Olympic aspirations?

Before my track coach Rob Pasquariello suggested trying out for bobsled, I had aspirations to train and compete in the Olympics for Track and Field.  I had hoped to be able to qualify for Beijing 2008, but knew it would be very difficult with my stats at the time and was looking to train for London 2012 ultimately.

♦What is a bobsled camp? Is that where the American Olympic team gets their members?

The USA Bobsled and Skeleton National Team hold a bobsled tryouts/camps every year in the off season starting late April through Mid-September. These are across the nation at different venues where they have developed partnerships with universities and facilities to host the event. A coach is always present and the tryouts consist of a combination of physical tests. In the beginning an athlete is tested in the sprints (15m, 30m, 45m and an additional 60m for the men ), Standing Broad Jump and the underhand shot put toss.  It is based on a point scale and if an athlete scores between a range that the team has deemed as potential, they are then invited to a longer testing camp later the summer/early fall to complete the lifting portion of the physical combine (3 rep max squat and 1 rep max power clean) and learn to push a bobsled and go through a bobsled 101 course.  These are the initial steps in the process for USA Bobsled and Skeleton in their recruiting segment. This process has evolved over the years and become more efficient.  It was a little different back in 2007 when I tried out, but is still very similar.

♦How did it feel when you made the 2014 Olympic team?

Making the 2014 Olympic Team is something, to this day, I don’t really feel like I can adequately describe.   worked my whole life leading up to that moment of being announced to the Olympic Team with the goal of, not just competing in the Olympics, but having an opportunity to inspire, motivate and achieve greatness while on the world stage. I am speechless to this day. It is almost overwhelming when trying to sift through all the emotions I feel and experienced.  I know though that my journey isn’t over and I have used that moment, and what it felt like, to carry my through the next 4 years as I train for PyeongChang 2018 Olympics.   

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♦What is your favorite memory of the Sochi Olympics?

Opening Ceremonies and completing the race seeing the crowd was incredible and memories that are forever etched in my mind.

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♦Will you be competing, or trying out, for the next winter Olympics?

I am currently training, and in the process of qualifying, for the next winter Olympics with Team Jamaica.  It will be held in 2018 PyeongChang, South Korea.  It is also the 30th anniversary of the original Cool Runnings’ 1988 Team and I hope to continue that legacy of history by being the first Jamaica Women’s Bobsled Team to compete.

♦I was pointed in your direction by Olympian Devon Harris, do Olympic bobsledders have a tight bond, regardless of nationality and competition year, or do you train together in the off seasons?

The Bobsled community is small.  It is not like you will run into a bobsledder at the grocery store, where you might run into a basketball player or soccer player.  Regardless of nationality, I have trained with, and have many, close bobsled friends that are on my specific team.  We help each other out when we can, give advice, hang out, but when it comes to competition everyone wants the same thing; to have the fastest time at the bottom and be on top of the podium.  We all know that and respect each other for the hard work and sacrifices each one has made to pursue the dream. 

♦Since you were originally a track star at Rider, did you ever think of trying out for one of the Olympic track events?

Since I was about 5 years old I had Olympic aspirations.  Back then, I didn’t really know what sport I would pursue. When I did realize it was possible, track and field was my goal. My journey led me in a different direction and I found bobsled, which I love and wouldn’t have it any other way.  

♦Where do you currently train?

I train where it is the best environment for me at the time to accomplish my short, and long term, goals. For the past few months I have been in Dallas, Texas. The weather is grea,t so I am able to train outdoors, get some Vitamin D (which is limited in the winter months), have consistency in the weather patterns, get a change of scenery and really focus on my physical and mental gains off the bobsled track. There is an ice house in Calgary and a push track in Park City, Utah that I plan to be training in the upcoming weeks, if funds and scheduling align for it to happen.

♦The official competition gear doesn’t look all that warm. Do you train in them, as well?

 Our official competition gear is not warm at all.  But we are only wearing it for about 2 minutes at a time before we quickly layer up again.  It is basically the equivalent to a swimmer’s or track and field athlete speed suit. We train in a onesie and have lots of layers underneath. The onesie looks a lot like a soccer goalie suit.

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♦What do you like to do when you’re not training?

When I am not training, I try to relax and recover in-between workout sessions usually by watching some Netflix or Hulu.  I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes, taking photos, traveling, surfing (I am still in my learning and beginner stages), learning new things, dancing, and hanging with friends and family.

♦How does it feel to be an athletic inspiration to young girls?

I am so excited to be able to be an inspiration for young girls.  I always wanted to become something that young children, and even adults, could look to for inspiration, motivation, positivity, education, and more. I think in this crazy world, we need more people to use their platforms not just for themselves and their own success, but rather to build up the communities around them and help lay chief cornerstones forming a path for our future to use on their own personal journeys.  I hope to set the best example possible for self worth, determination, gratitude, pride, acceptance, giving back and being limitless.

♦Growing up, did you have an inspiration?

 I had a lot of great influences growing up such as sport idols, activists, successful business owners, charitable leaders, etc.  But the biggest inspiration of my life will always be my Mom

♦Is there any quote you live by, or tend to take to heart?

I am a huge quote person.   started a quote book in college where I wrote down quotes I loved, related to me, inspired me, motivated me, made me think, challenged me, etc.  I hope to turn it into a book one day.  Here are a few quotes that stay with me regularly;

  • “Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!” – Bob Marley
  • “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively” – Bob Marley
  • “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela
  • “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” – Muhammad Ali”
  • “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. ” – Audre Lorde

♦What are you favorite books?

I am a little behind on the book reading. Getting two Master’s degrees back to back, I was a little busy focusing on all the school reading, but here is a brief list:

Mind Gym by Gary Mack

Cool Runnings and Beyond: The Story of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Team by Chris Stokes

Champion’s Mind by Jim Afremow

Chelsea Handler’s Books

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

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♦Do you have any favorite movies, or shows, that you like to “binge watch”?

Netflix and Hulu are my best friends on the road.  Especially because I never know the local stations to watch my shows, this makes it easy to catch up, or watch at my leisure. The shows I recently binge watched this summer include Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Penny Dreadful, Marco Polo, Grace & Frankie, Peaky Blinders, and You’re the Worst.

♦You’re from New Jersey, my home state, so I have to ask, what do you miss about it while you’re away training, or traveling with your team?

Probably what I miss most about New Jersey while I am away training, traveling and competing with the team, is my Mom’s homemade cooking and Hugs. Home is wherever she is. My favorite part when arriving home is when I am flying into Newark airport and I see the Beautiful NYC skyline on one side and the Garden State on the other, just as the plane is coming into the runway to land.  

♦Subs or hogies?

Subs

♦Jimmies or sprinkles?

Definitely sprinkles and rainbow ones 🙂

♦I read that you’re currently back in school for marketing, do you plan on using your degrees once you leave the bobsled world?

I actually have already completed my degree. I currently hold a BA, Master’s Degree in Performance Enhancement and Exercise Sciences, and just obtained my MBA last fall with a focus in Marketing.  I do hope to plan on using my degrees when I retire from competition. I want to pay it forward and help athletes, and the sport community, as well as dive into other adventures and goals I have that have been put on temporary hold while I focus on the Olympics and becoming a champion.

♦You live a very active, fulfilling, and interesting life. What are your plans for after you hang up your bobsled helmet?

After I hang up my spikes and helmet, I would love to stay very actively involved with Jamaica Bobsled and used the skills that I have, through being an athlete and my education, to help where ever is best needed to continue to grow our team and take to next levels of performance with winning results. I also have endeavors of starting my own business. Some ideas are in the works, and being formulated, but nothing official yet. I also would like to complete my photography coffee table book. In addition, I would like to travel with some of the charity organizations I have been affiliated to do some hands on work. 

Jazmine is an awesome, down to earth, Olympian who found her goals and worked hard to achieve them. But she’s not ready to hang up her helmet, just yet. With the 2018 Olympics just 4 years away, she needs help getting there. Contrary to popular beliefs, Olympians are not always mega rich super stars. Competitions, travel, and training can cost a lot. You can donate to Jazmin’s Olympic goal here.

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