You Don't Know Jaime 'Jimmy' Hill - Interview

Nov 12, 2015
by Danielle Baker  
Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL


JAIME "JIMMY" HILL

Words and Photos by Danielle Baker

bigquotesGrowing up as a gymnast I never once heard, 'that's pretty good for a girl' or 'you can't do that, you're a girl.' It was always just 'that's awesome' or 'here's the steps you have to take to meet your goals.'

An accountant by day, World Cup DH racer by night, and no stranger to wearing tights – Jaime Hill might just be a super hero. A peripheral friend of mine for many years now, Jaime has always been one of those people who you simply just want to be around more. She’s positive, fun, and once proved that she can kick as high as Steve Peat’s head – she also says, “sorry Peaty. . . I hope he doesn’t remember that.” Her life story, from denying herself a career in modelling to taking up World Cup racing at 29, both inspires and evokes laughter. Jaime describes herself as “super driven and competitive,” but she quickly qualifies that statement with, “but that’s a super common trait amongst most athletes.” So what is it about Jaime Hill that makes her unique? “I definitely think I have a bit of an off-the-cuff personality sometimes, I think it’s refreshing – Someone once said that there are no secrets with me, what’s going on in my brain is what comes out of my mouth. A lot of people gravitate towards that because I have a no-bullshit personality. That and the qualities instilled in me as a former elite level gymnast, I think are what sets me apart. “

Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL
Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL

“Back in the day I did Irish dancing, we were Irish, and all Irish people dance.” Jaime started our interview with her signature sarcasm. Raised in an Irish family her nickname among friends has become ‘Jimmy’ thanks to her accent thick grandma’s pronunciation of her name. “Our dance teacher moved back to Ireland, so for some reason instead of finding a new one we had to find a whole new thing to do.” At nine years old, young ‘Jimmy’ was at a crossroads, “I was on the fence of whether I wanted to do modelling or gymnastics.” According to Jaime’s nine-year-old recollections, her brief foray into modelling didn’t go all that smoothly and a botched runway session lead her to a gymnastics class.

bigquotesThank god I chose gymnastics, because I really had no hope in hell of being tall or like anything that resembled a good model.


Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL

When her mom gave her the ultimatum of modelling or gymnastics Jaime says she believes she chose wisely. “I was pretty energetic as a kid, I was always bouncing off the furniture anyways.” Twenty-five years later and not much has changed; Jaime stands a confident 5’1 and is still bursting with energy. For fourteen years Jaime competed at an international level for Canada in gymnastics. She attended the Commonwealth Games, the PanAmerican Games, World Championships, as well as, other prestigious international competitions before being awarded a full scholarship to West Virginia University. By that time, at high school graduation, she was considered old for a gymnast. “I surprised myself though with how much more there was still to learn in terms of difficulty and skills, especially at the ripe old age of nineteen.”

Jaime shows off her gymnastic skills.

Her career in gymnastics ended with a dislocated elbow and surgery. “There’s always this pressure to come back quickly [from an injury] as a high performance athlete. There was definitely a lot of pressure to continue through different injuries or to come back sooner so that you could be contributing to the success of the team.” With a schedule that had her and her teammates in the gym five to six hours a day, four to five times a week, in addition to classes, “it’s about finding a balance of how quickly you can come back and sustain a certain level of competitiveness.” If you were unable to practice due to injury, then you spent the time rehabbing; cardio and strength training, during that time instead. Unfortunately, Jaime came back too soon which lead to a calcium build up in the ulnar nerve canal, which caused pinching. She spent the last year of university rehabbing from surgeries.

bigquotesWatching all the bad ass chicks coming off the bike park trails in all their bike gear with their bikes, I just thought it looked like it would be so much fun.


Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL

Jamie moved home to Toronto after graduating with a degree in International Business, but it wasn’t long until she grew bored with urban life and packed up for Whistler. She quickly got a job working at one of the resort hotels where she met a guy who offered to take her riding. She says of learning, “I took a lot of beats for the first three years.” The cross-over between gymnastics and mountain biking may not be obvious to most, “[with gymnastics] every day there is something that you do that is really scary and you have to do it over and over again. There is a big rush of adrenaline and I think mountain biking filled that void. I basically fell in love with it right away.”

Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL

Jamie’s racing career started out with a bit of a lie, she told herself ‘I’m just going to do this for fun, and I’m not going to try and compete or anything.’ Her first race was Mt. Seven and it was there that she realized what a direct measure of your progress racing can be. “I really like that at the beginning of the weekend, training the course or walking the course, I’d look at some features and think, ‘there’s no way I’m going to ride that,’ but the competitive side of me takes over and it’s like ‘it’s on the racer course, I have to do it.’” The want for a marker of her improvement is likely a throwback to her competitive gymnastics days; it’s the feeling of elation and accomplishment with thinking, ‘I never thought I would hit that feature and now I’m not even afraid of it anymore.”

Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL

Although she had amassed enough UCI points to race a World Cup six years ago, Jaime felt that she wasn’t ready, “but at the same time it was a way to see where I was at with my skill and ability level with this new echelon of racing calibre.” She went to that race at Mont-Sainte-Anne and felt like a fish out of water. “It was pretty scary, that first time. I was there on my own, there’s no team behind me or anything like that so you are trying to figure out everything on your own, and also learning about how to work on your own bike along the way as well.” It wasn’t her best performance, after four crashes, Jaime finally crossed the finish line, “I totally shit the bed in that race.” But she says that as disappointed as she was, the race and getting outside of her comfort zone had given her a new found confidence, “I think that as scary as that was it also kind of pushed me to keep persevering and keep doing more because I learned so much.”

Port Angeles Underworld Cup 2015 images
Photo: Paris Gore

Jamie’s motivation became about how much could she learn and progress her own skills with mountain biking. “It seemed like every time I did a race in a different spot, it added to my bag of tricks.” She began to analyze the trails and terrain, “and not just look at the main line, but rather try to find a different perspective about what is available to ride on any given trail.” It was this learning that kept her pursuing racing at a World Cup level.

Photo by SvenMartin
Photo: Sven Martin

Next to the support of sponsors like Juliana and Troy Lee Designs, Jaime says that a very “caring and understanding husband,” is the key to being able to afford to race internationally. “I don’t have financial support, but my husband is very supportive and helps ensure that we can make things happen to get to the races.” In the offseason Jaime works full time in accounting and uses proceeds from the sales of her bikes and extra sponsor products to pay for the following year of racing. “How I do it financially is likely similar to most. It involves some hefty credit card debt during the season. It’s a big cycle of racking up your credit card and paying it off over the winter.” While some people may find this approach a bit irresponsible or crazy, for Jaime it has allowed her to travel and race all over the world. “I think everyone has their thing that they would do anything to keep pursuing, their dream or their passion. For some people it is race cars or horses, but whatever it is, everything does cost you something.” With racing there isn’t always a huge window of opportunity, like there is with other interests, “so now is kind of the time to do that, and then I can work on a regular job or career once I’m too old to race.”

bigquotes[Accounting] may not be most exciting thing but it allows me a lot of flexibility and it allows me to work in any industry in any place in the world, which is pretty awesome.


Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL

Jaime raced her fist World Cup at 29 against a field of women who had either come up through the ranks racing Juniors or had at least started mountain biking before they were 25. “The funny thing is that I’ve never focused on my age.” While a lot of people may focus on age as an excuse or a deterrent, Jaime has a different point of view, “I have to always bring it back to what I learned as a gymnast and as an elite level athlete growing up, our coaches didn’t see roadblocks, no one put road blocks in front of you - about how old you were or your gender.” Instead, Jaime was taught simply to identify the steps to her goals and complete them, “if you do that you are helping to ensure that you can attain you goals. There is no guarantee that you will but at least you can know that you are doing everything possible to achieve your them.”

Photo Claudio Olguin

Photo Claudio Olguin
Photo: Claudio Olguin
Photo Claudio Olguin

Making the transition from a female to male dominated sport has also been interesting for Jaime, “Growing up as a gymnast I never once heard, 'that's pretty good for a girl' or 'you can't do that, you're a girl.' It was always just 'that's awesome' or 'here're the steps you have to take to meet your goals.’" In gymnastics, men and women are usually demonstrating the same skills and there was never any questions of the men being ‘as good as the women’ even though they tended to be the minority in that sport.

Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL
Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL
Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL

Setting goals is a fluid process. Recently Jaime has re-evaluated her goals - as much as representing Canada at the World Championships or achieving a World Cup finish, is still very much on her radar, she says, “I think there’s maybe a greater focus towards coaching and, as much as I still want to pursue racing, this year I started doing more mountain bike coaching and it was pretty gratifying.” As someone who has come from a background of structure and coaching in sport, Jamie hasn’t had a lot of guidance or teaching in her racing career. “I think it would have been great if I had a person to look to for advice in my early years especially.” Gymnastics is a very regimented sport that provides structured lesson plans of how to build on your skills, “but with mountain biking, someone puts you on a bike and it’s like okay, well good luck, hold on!” That worked for Jaime, but she knows it doesn’t always work for everyone. “It’s really great to be involved in some of the coaching programs that are available these days and to give people a little bit more method to the madness.” She is quick to follow up this line of thought with, “but for right now I’m not done racing yet.”

Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL

“Sadly I didn’t end up getting to travel to as many out of country races this year as I had planned due to normal life stuff.” Normal life stuff translates to her and her husband selling their home in Pemberton and purchasing a new home in Squamish, the logistics of which interfered with Jaime’s race schedule. She describe this season as making “lemonade out of some lemons,” and still made the most of the local race circuit including, the Sea Otter Dual Slalom and DH race, the DH Pro GRT #1, the GoFest stop of the North American Enduro Tour, the BC Provincial DH Championships, the Canadian National DH Championships, the Canadian Cup at Panorama, the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup, the Crankworx stop of the Enduro World Series, the Canadian Open DH, and the BC Enduro Finale.

Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL
Panorama Women s Pro Podium
Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL

Jaime has found that spending more time locally this season has allowed her to attain her coaching certificate and to spend more time with her Ride Like a Girl program mentee. Jaime is one of four athletes who were chosen to mentor up-and-coming young female mountain bikers. “My ‘little sister’ is Stephanie, she’s 16 and she’s a force to be reckoned with!” Jaime has helped Stephanie with setting her goals for the year, been race support at a local event, and also just been a sounding board. “I think some people can have all the skills in the world but if they can’t overcome some of the mental challenges their skills may not translate onto the race course.” Jaime is also using her own personal experiences to enrich the Ride Like a Girl program, “I’ve made a lot of mistakes on the race course, and I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to coach or advise someone else on how to avoid making some of those same mistakes.”

Win or lose. . .

bigquotesIf I were able to keep my involvement in the riding community in any way, shape or form, or at the same magnitude that Claire [Buchar] has, I would be pretty happy with that. I think it's really great to have some really strong female riders living right next door and getting to ride with them and absorb their awesomeness is pretty cool.


Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL

While Jaime hasn’t experience the same level of formal training in mountain biking that she did in gymnastics she has still managed to find inspiration in our sport. “I think most women in racing would be silly not to look up to Tracy Mosely and Rachel Atherton, and although she and I are roughly the same age, Claire Buchar. Claire has been racing since before I knew what mountain biking was and it’s inspirational to see her still crushing it on her bike and so involved with the community.”

Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL
Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL

Jaime’s biggest and constant inspiration has come from her husband, he just happens to be the same guy who took her out for her very first mountain bike ride, and the one who supports her in her racing endeavours. “I would have to say that he’s the person who I’ve gone to for advice, and when I started riding he would hit the biggest jumps that I had ever seen – the fact that a real person, who I knew, was doing that was always pretty inspiring to me.” At their wedding, the bride, groom and whole wedding party were outfitted in Troy Lee Designs kits, and they said ‘I do’ on top of a paraglider launch. Then, rather than a receiving line, they had a 40-person train down Overnight Sensation, a trail in Pemberton. “Mountain biking is still something that we really love doing together and it’s a huge part of our lives, being able to include that in our wedding ceremony was pretty awesome!”

A wedding party outfitted in TLD gear. Yes this is a mountain biking wedding.
Photo: Matthew Mallory

From her fifteenth place finish at the Mount Saint Anne World Cup a few years ago to a top three finish at the Canadian National Championships last year, Jaime has more than a few highlights in her racing career. “I raced in Europe at two world cups last year, and even though I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, it was pretty awesome to get to ride in such a different place.” She says there are almost too many memorable moments thus far, and she is constantly adding to them. However, the one that stands out the most right now is when she lost her shoe during her qualifying run at the Fort William World Cup last year. “I somehow pulled my foot out of my shoe in my qualy run when attempting to unclip and dab, which was pretty devastating but comical at the same time. Looking down at my pedal and seeing my shoe is still attached to my pedal while my foot was in a puddle, was quite an interesting sight to see.” In true Jaime Hill fashion, she put a positive spin on what could have been a tragic situation, “no one ever wants to have to pull off the trail to put your shoe back on in the middle of a race run, but it was still a great experience and at that point you can’t really be that mad at yourself because it’s such a fluke thing.” She does admit that she is really paranoid now about tying her shoelaces really tight.

Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL

Jaime is a phenomenal athlete, has an energizing presence, and by example can provide some positive change in the way our younger athletes experience our mountain biking, and race specific, culture. She's is approachable and generous with her time, and should you get the chance to meet her, do yourself a favour and start a conversation.

Images of JAIME JIMMY HILL

Sponsors:

Juliana Bicycles, Fox Suspension, Troy Lee Designs, Smith Optics, Spank Industries, Muscle MLK Canada, Joystick Bicycle Components, Schwalbe Tires, Zettz Clothing, Summit Sport Whistler, Road Hawk Ride UK, Revolution Strength & Conditioning


MENTIONS: @troyleedesigns / @SmithOptics / @spank-bikes / @schwalbe



Author Info:
daniellebaker avatar

Member since May 10, 2007
235 articles

68 Comments
  • 34 0
 A DH racer who used to Irish dance? My gf might have a new favorite! Smile Getting her familiar with personalities like Jaimie is a great way to get her more interested in the sport, thanks for the cool write up!
  • 33 5
 I still dont know who Chester is.
  • 3 4
 How can people downvote this?
  • 10 2
 Chester is one of Kardashians
  • 12 2
 What is a Kardashian?
  • 11 1
 @redbaronmulisha something that needs to die.
  • 10 0
 Thoughtful write up, beautiful pics and super rad form on the bike! I took lessons through Dirt Series at Whistler and Jaime was one of my instructors. Her instruction is in my head whenever I'm on my bike. And I'm still throwing out the "I was coached by Jaime Hill". Thanks Jaime for being a nugget of gold.
  • 3 0
 Great form!!
  • 3 0
 I also met her at the dirt series. She has a crazy amount of positive energy and was very fun to learn from. Good luck in the races next year!
  • 2 0
 I too was lucky enough to get Jaime as a coach with Dirt!
  • 2 0
 Thanks @icehawk
  • 11 0
 @jaimehi is one of the best riding buddies a girl like me could ask for. Awesome piece, @dbaker!
  • 3 0
 @sarahleishman you're a pretty rad riding buddy yourself????. Hope the shoulder is healing up!
  • 8 0
 Jaime is cool! She always keeps ya guessing what she's going to do or say next! First time I rode with her years ago Wade and I joined a Pemberton whiskey drinkin, steep ass shuttle crew and she was going hard the whole 6 laps bouncing around, laughing, ribbing people, shredding her bike and having more fun than all of us. She does random backflips and if prodded and in the right state will do a cool handstand probably saying something edgy and then motor boating you!!
  • 2 0
 Awe... Memories eh buddy! Those days though????
  • 6 0
 I can't believe she didn't get into riding while attending WVU!!!! I cut my teeth on the trails of Cooper's Rock, White Park, and Baker's Ridge nearly 25 years ago and always love to go for a nostalgic ride when back in Morgantown. Let's gooooooo Mountaineers!
  • 13 0
 If only I knew what MTB was back then! I probably wouldn't have been allowed to take it up anyways at that time...my coaches would never have let that happenWink Suffered enough injuries in the gym haha!
  • 6 0
 CHEAAAAA! Grew up over there, now live in the PNW, hardcore WVU fan. I favored Blackwater Falls and Snowshoe, West Virginia is making a resurgence in the woods now!
  • 4 0
 Let's Go Mountaineers!!!
  • 9 0
 morgantown made me an alcoholic.
  • 9 0
 Wow two women’s MTB articles in one week…three if you count the Rachel Atherton one. Well done PB!
  • 9 0
 How to feel slow in Pemberton... let Jaime lead!
  • 8 0
 i wish more weddings were like this instead of stupid drunken chicken dancing. hopefully grandma got down the trail ok.
  • 2 0
 Kinda got me thinking I wish my wedding was more like Jaime's. Going to print this article off and try and get the wife into bikes. Well Done Jaime, keep givin' her
  • 4 0
 Major props for covering the "day job" aspect that is lost in most pro rider interviews. I think sometimes amidst all the pros who get paid to ride full time, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that there are many sponsored (or privateer) riders who work normal jobs, just like us.
  • 4 0
 As someone who noticed that riding mountain bikes is a thing to do at the ancient-for-sports age of 23, I find this really encouraging. Look at that form! I thought all people who can do that were born that way! Inspiring. Maybe it's because she's a former gymnast, though. I maintain the belief that gymnasts are actually tiny aliens with superpowers... because accepting that they're human would also mean accepting that I, too, could do backflips and crazy shit if I wasn't both lazy and a wimp. Mad respect! Also, best wedding concept ever.
  • 7 0
 The world is a F***N nasty place sometimes... this made me smile!
  • 5 0
 Great Article! Great Interview! Gonna go home and make my wife read this one tonight.
  • 3 0
 Great write up and photos. I had the pleasure of getting to ride with this amazing person (And many others) on a heli trip back in September. She's an incredible rider and was a ton of fun to be around. Keep shredding!
  • 4 0
 You, ma'am, are a badass. Also my new inspiration that if I ever stop ski cross, I'm taking up DH racing.
  • 1 0
 You'll love it! You already have the need for speed ????
  • 2 0
 Absolutely! I'd race DH already but don't quite have the spare change for it with competing in an elite sport already. So I just stick to my trail bike Smile
  • 5 0
 Great pics, great interview, I love stuff like this- cheers PB
  • 2 0
 Jimmy you're one rad chick, so good to ride with you this season!! #teamGeorJaime will live on through our moves lighting up the dance floor throughout the years...more like just your moves actually hahahah
  • 1 0
 I'm sure we'll have lotsore dance parties????. We'll catch up Soon for some laps!
  • 2 0
 Ridden with Jamie a couple of times while visiting friends on the WC. Once in Pembie and the other in Squampton and she is such an awesome woman! Such a positive perspective and energy! Oh...and she tears it up!!!
  • 2 0
 in the shots of her with sunglasses on she kind of looks like Tracey Moseley.... Does anyone else see this or am I just crazy?
  • 2 0
 Yep, not crazy.
  • 3 0
 I got to hang with this awesome lady this August! Her style on the bike just jumped out at you. Great article!
  • 3 0
 Realy nice to meet, ride and work with Jaime!! she is awesome!
  • 4 0
 Jamie is a champ!
  • 3 0
 that is one tuff looking bad ass woman
  • 4 0
 total boss!
  • 3 0
 Ya Jamie! I love your story! Your a force to be reckoned with.
  • 3 0
 Juliana has a DH bike?
  • 13 0
 Friends call him V10
  • 4 0
 V10 with Juliana stickers. See another one like that.
  • 3 0
 That's a bad @ss Juliana
  • 13 0
 It is a custom painted V10....the "She-10" Smile
  • 2 0
 Cool seeing one so short!
  • 3 0
 I wish I knew her.
  • 2 0
 I could use some coaching - she seems pretty rad.
  • 1 0
 @bigredride I see you're "in the neighbourhood" hit me up on my FB Athlete page or come check out Endless Biking some time????
  • 2 0
 checking it out right now!
  • 2 0
 Hey Jamie you still owe me a beer for that tubeless valve!????
  • 2 1
 I do!!! You'll just have to come visit Squamish soon????
  • 1 0
 Haha no worries darling. It's gonna have to wait till next summer.
  • 2 0
 Great stuff! Rode with Jaime in Lillooet recently and she's rad.
  • 2 0
 cool write up!
  • 1 0
 looks like Shandro doin the vows?
  • 1 0
 Oh...
  • 2 1
 Chin.
  • 1 0
 Awesome and inspiring.
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