Zen 10 Questions: Jennifer Rodriguez

There are several kinds of reputation that athletes create. The first, of course, are their accomplishments on the field/court/ice. The second has everything to do with what kind of people they are & the personal interactions they have; so many well-known athletes pass the first test but fail miserably on the second.

However I can honestly say that even in the interpersonally carnivorous small fishbowl that the skating community can be, Jennifer Rodriguez & her husband, inline to ice pioneer KC Boutiette, enjoy a tremendous amount of respect from their peers. Time and time again I have heard stories of them helping out other skaters & giving of their time, knowledge & resources.

Here is a perfect example: when I asked Jen to be the next interviewee/victim of this blog, she was exhausted from a hard day of tempos, but was gracious & friendly as always!

Jen, given some of your biography & lifetime results it’s an honor to have you here on my humble blog, and I promise that I will attempt to ask questions that are completely unique, and nothing any Olympic press pool reporter will ever think to ask!

Fire away!

1. You won World Sprint Championships this last year, fantastic! But many athletes motivate themselves by being in the “constant underdog” mindset. Now that you are the current world sprint champ, does anything feel different in your psychological outlook & preparation for Torino?

Actually no. I still don’t consider myself the best. There are too many great girls out there pushing the envelope. The second you let your guard down, someone will be right there waiting to take your place. I’m just trying to push myself harder without going over the limit. I’m also focusing a lot on technique, trying to make it better and more efficient.

2. Does the media referring to you as J-Rod annoy you? I can honestly say I have never heard you referred to as J-Rod by any other skaters. My wife (Jessica Love) was sometimes called “J-Lo” by her classmates at Vet school, & she had mixed feelings about it.

Actually, there is one skater who calls me J-Rod and his name is Tucker Fredricks. He’s been calling me that for a while. At first I didn’t really like being referred to as J-Rod. I thought maybe people would think I was trying to copy A-Rod or JLO. Now, I’ve kind of gotten used to it.

3. You are in the tiny percentage of people who could actually experience a doper taking away something you have worked a lifetime towards. As I talked about in a previous post on this blog, the 2nd place finisher at world sprints behind you was caught doping by the ISU. What was your immediate reaction when you heard about that? Would your reaction be different if you had placed second to Kotiuga?

I was surprised. I’d like to think that speedskating is a clean sport. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. It’s sad really. In a way it was pretty cool to be able to say I beat someone on drugs while I stayed clean. I’m not sure if my reaction would’ve been different had I finished second at Worlds. I would’ve probably been more upset.

4. Many articles refer to you & your connection to Miami, mostly in the context of how unusual it is for a speedskater to come from there. But no one seems to ask what are your favorite places, faces, & times of year in Miami? What makes it special to you?

My favorite place in Miami is my parent’s house. I also like to go to Coconut Grove, Bayside and Key Biscayne. My favorite faces are the Miami Heat, Florida Marlins and Miami Dolphins. My favorite time of year is spring time, because the humidity is not quite so high yet. Miami is special to me because of the mix of cultures it has. I love that. I love the different people, different foods and of course the different music.

5. Skating, when done correctly, looks effortless. The training and preparation for it is anything but effortless. What are the technical, physical, or lifestyle aspects to skating that you personally have to work really hard at?

I’m naturally not a very strong person, so I have to work real hard in the gym and during downtimes (ed note for non-skaters: downtime is when you practice the skating motion in running shoes off-ice, usually till the lactic acid comes out your ears).

I think I am strong for my size, but so many other girls are a lot stronger physically than I am. Because of this, I have to work extra hard on technique. The things I work hardest on are timing and early pressure.

6. I will not ask that annoying “So will you retire after the games?” question, instead, I will ask “what is wonderful about your life right now”, in the final few weeks before the world cup season begins.

Right now, my life is just about perfect. I am doing what I love best with my husband. I have a great coach, great teammates and great friends. I also have the love and full support of my family.

7. Does being an Athlete rep to the US Speedskating board give you a different perspective to the organization?

I think being an athlete rep has changed my perspective towards the organization. I used to think that USS had their best interests in mind rather than the athletes. Now, that I’m on the other side, I know that’s not true. USS may not always make the best decisions, but it’s not out of lack of effort. I truly feel they try to do what’s best for the athletes. I know it doesn’t always work that way, but I know they try.

8. Tell us something surprising about you or your life, something those of us who know you through skating would never have suspected:

I would like to be in the military. I’m too old to try now, but I would’ve welcomed the challenge.

9. When all the athletic hoopla is far past, and you just want to skate for pure pleasure, what first comes to mind? Quads & disco? Cruising a Dutch canal on classic Vikings? A hot day at South Beach on inlines? Or has skating been your job for so long, other things are in the “fun” category?

I will always love all aspects of skating, and I have a hard time imagining my life without it in one way or another. Of course there are other things would love to do that I have to wait to do until after my skating career is over, due to possible injuries. Things like, bungee jumping, motorbike riding, jet boating in Australia, swim with sharks (in a cage of course), or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro (I don’t think that’s spelled right). I’ve never done that stuff, but I would love to try. I love adventure stuff.

10. No elite speedskater steps to the starting line alone, so many help along the way. Here is your chance to say thanks to those who have been there for you:

First and foremost I have to thank my parents. They have supported me from day one with everything I’ve wanted to do. Even when money was really tight, they found a way to make it possible for me to continue to skate.

Next, I have to thank KC for introducing me to the ice and being pretty much my crutch the entire way through my ice career. I would not be where I am today without him. I would also like to thank all the coaches I’ve had along the way and especially Tom Cushman, my current coach. He’s amazing. I need to thank my teammates for pushing me every day and of course our trainers who keep me injury free. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few people and I’m sorry if I missed you, but I want to say thanks anyways.

Haiku Speed Round

1. Is there anything unusual you pack when you embark on long world-cup trips?

Lots of tampons! I don’t like the ones they have overseas, so I have to bring my own.

2. You are described as a fan of basketball, snowboarding, jet skiing, cycling, & playing paintball. If you could wave a magic wand and become a pro in another sport, which one would you do?


3. What is the most meaningful possession of yours from childhood that you still have?

My first pair of roller skates. They were the ones you wear with your sneakers. They were plastic Incredible Hulk skates.

4. Favorite Ann Rice novel?

The Vampire Lestat. I love vampire stuff.

5. What artist, living or dead, should be hired to design the USA swift skin graphics for the games.

Romero Britto. He is a South Florida artist. It may not be the most normal looking skinsuit, but it will sure be colorful.

6. A verbal expression or attitude that you picked up from KC that you use all the time?

If someone says to you “Go clean your room,” then you say, “No, YOU go clean your room.” That’s pretty much how we communicate.

7. What are the Weblinks to your sponsors?

8. Name a really expensive habit you wish you could afford?

Car collecting

9. I hear you are, like myself, one of the Mac faithful, what are you reading & writing this on?

Powerbook G4

10. When wandering past a Barnes & Noble endless magazine rack, what ones do you always flip through? What would you predict KC reaches for?

In Style magazine, Sports Illustrated, ESPN Mag, and Latina. KC would look at the VW magazine. He loves VW Bugs (the old ones).

all photos in this interview are from Q-Sports

4 Responses to “Zen 10 Questions: Jennifer Rodriguez”

  1. inspirational interview, youngsters.
    i had to chuckle at Jen’s description of herself as naturally ‘weak’; the very term my daughter Rachel,uses to describe herself, but managed to win or place well in trail running marathons, as well as being a premiere women’s alpine climber. But a humble kid; a big head never did anyone any good.
    working extremely and consistently hard at something, yet having a totally realistic ability to analyze one’s condition, is the prerequisite to superlative achievement, something you both know well..
    both of you kids exhibit this to a high degree; keep up the good work!

  2. Awesome interview Andrew thanks for reporting on a subject that I actually care about as opposed to the many stories I tell weekly.

    Your Blog proves that the best things in life really are free. And as a resume I hope it helps you find new ways to replace splintering carbon fibers.

    Humility and a realistic ability to analyze one’s condition. Greg, is right two keys to success in anything.

  3. thanks for the comments guys… Jen is a really down to earth, cool person, and I had a lot of fun doing this Zen 10 with her….

    There are so many stereotypes as to what athletes are “like” and one of the things I am finding doing these interviews is that aside of possessing a commonality of tremendous drive & determination, elite athletes are all unique individuals, as varied as any crowd…. (as varied as those 9 mile long barnes & noble magazine racks!)

    I truly enjoy asking off the wall questions that bring their personalities into the light…

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