Right from the start-gate Jill was thrown into a mix of sport and art and hit the dirt at the local BMX track – and she never looked back. Putting her all into everything she did, it’s probably no wonder she climbed the ranks and ultimately wound up with an Olympic medal around her neck – now living the dream in the Northwest USA with countless riding spots right outside her front door, Jill lives to travel, explore new places, and simply ride her bike. Ladies and gentlemen, spend some quality time with one of the First Ladies of mountainbiking – Jill Kintner.
Who are you and where are from?
My name is Jill Kintner and I grew up in Seattle, Washington, but now live in Bellingham which is a couple of hours north of there. I had a sporty childhood; played a ton of soccer, rode bikes, was on the tennis team, golf, etc, but was also pretty arty sketching out ideas, doing origami, making jewelry, clay, etc. My parents worked normal jobs; dad was a tile contractor, and mom worked at United Airlines, so we weren’t rich, but I always tried to put my best effort into the things I did.
How did you get into cycling?
Our neighborhood was full of kids on bikes, and we had a little ditch we could jump and ‘catch air’, so we did that a bunch and made up little crit course at the church across the street etc. We also had a BMX track like six blocks away. I was literally the only girl around, so it was natural to try and keep up with the boys. That movie Rad inspired me a bunch when I was like ten, so I had a little paper route for the Highline Times and timed it like my idol Crew Jones, haha.
Who do you ride with?
Mostly with Bryn. He’s my favorite and we are on the same schedule / mindset which helps. There is no shortage of talented riders around where we live to ride with though, so it sort of de-pends who is around. Luke Strobel and Lars Sternberg are some of our OG riding homies.
Where do you ride the most?
We mostly ride out our front door in Bellingham! It’s probably the best place to ride mountain bikes in the whole USA, in my opinion. There are four big peaks that can all be linked together for endless combinations and variety. Whistler is only a few hours north as well, so the corridor between Seattle and Whistler is our home zone.
Who do you admire?
People who know who they are and tell the truth, I guess. I try to take good things from all sorts of people, but in sports Roger Federer is my hero. He is so effortless, analytical, classy, speaks well in interviews, acknowledges his opponent’s strengths, and has done everything. I like those tense moments when true champions shine, clutch moments…
How long have you been riding for?
Mom says I started riding at age two without training wheels. There are some pretty irresponsible photos from a couple years later of me bombing the massive downhill start ramp without a helmet, feet off the pedals with the cranks spinning a million miles an hour beneath me. By eight we were signed up to race, hitting BMX nationals on the West Coast at age ten, then started making a bit of prize money as a pro in BMX at age 14. It’s been a lifetime really.
Tell us about your first race?
I can’t really remember, but I know I got smoked for awhile until I figured it out. I haven’t really ever been a quitter.
What are you most proud of?
Maybe making it to the Olympics and winning a medal for my country with a blown-out ACL / meniscus and the odds against me. That was pretty wild.
What was good & bad about the Olympics?
Good was the moment I crossed the line with a medal, holy shit, the relief was massive. Bad was seeing my roommate and training partner Arielle’s dreams destroyed when she didn’t make the team with me. There were a lot of major ups and downs in that whole process.
What does it take to dominate?
Relentless focus and effort to get things perfect.
What race do you regret and why?
Adversity teaches you the most about your character even though it isn’t always enjoyable. Re-gret isn’t that helpful. There was one race where I lacerated my kidney that I would like back though.
What changes have you seen happen to cycling since you started riding?
It was cool to see women get equal prize payout. It’s still not everywhere yet though.
“All I know is that I usually pick something really detailed and difficult and put my best into it, which also drives me insane”
Anything new you want to try in the future?
I’m trying out enduro… Maybe graphic animation or own a business someday.
Which rider would you most like to ride with – any rider in the world?
Anne Caroline Chausson – the GOAT. That whole French barrier was hard to crack and I still get nervous around her.
Why do you like Fabric?
Fabric understands good design aesthetics and makes products with materials that make sense. I love the people there as well, but the whole brand has a great image that we like to as-sociate with.
What do you give back to the sport?
I try to be a good person and have time for people. Hopefully my riding inspires other to get into it. Community projects and volunteer efforts are important to me, but I keep that side a little more low key. Taking credit for stuff kinda embarrasses me, I just like to help for the sake of helping. I teach skills lessons, do after school pumptrack things with kids, go to trail building days, try to come up with marketing and art ideas that are inclusive, help people with their set up, etc. I dun-no, there are a lot of things.
“Adversity teaches you the most about your character, even though it isn’t always enjoyable”
Tell us the benefits of being a Red Bull athlete ?
It’s like my family, and I have access to great people and training facilities. They also help launch athlete dreams to make projects a reality.
When is the right time to drink Red Bull?
It sort of depends on what you are doing. It’s helpful to stay awake when driving, when you need a top up on sugars from a million sprints… It helps with focus, or when you want a tasty bever-age. I drink a quarter of a can before a race because it really makes me zero in on the task in front of me. Yellow is my favorite flavor, it tastes like Squirt.
What is frustrating about being a female MTB athlete?
Never getting the same sponsorship dollars. It’s kind of always been a hustle. The hard work makes you appreciate what you do get, but I see someone like ‘Blank’ asking for so much mon-ey and it kind of upsets me honestly.
What are the barriers to getting into cycling?
I guess just buying a bike and showing up. Nothing is free, there has to be some sort of buy-in to get going…
How can we get more Women into mountain biking?
Build more trails everywhere and help teach the fundamentals.
What are your other passions outside of Mountain Biking ?
Art and design are my favorite non-athletic pastimes. I enjoy coffee quite a bit, bookstores, being outside, walking, gardening, dogs, hanging with friends, working on projects, organizing…
What is the future for Jill Kintner?
Good question, hard to answer…. I’d love to keep riding bikes with Bryn as long as we can, but I also want to learn some new things, have a garden, a dog, build a house, etc. Design and starting a business have appeal, but I really enjoy being active and having my own time. Hopefully we find something that makes us as happy that we can do together. I love having goals and seeing what I can do, so we shall see…