Olympic Gold Medalist on HER NEW LIFE BEYOND SKATING.
Jamie Salé is still bewildered that Edmontonians seem shocked to see the Olympic gold medailst and Canadian figure skating icon strolling
along the grocery aisles with her two children. “What are you doing here?” is the usual question from admiring fans.
“I’m just normal like everyone else. I think because most peopel have only seen me on TV or in a magazine that I am somehow dffierent.
But I have the same challenges, busy schedules, work and family just like everyone else,” said Jamie.
But people may be forgiven for looking at her differently, given she has been in the Canadian and international spotlight for most of her life.
That spotlight has changed these days from TV cameras and Olympic judges to the glowing admiration of her husband Craig, two children, Jessie (7) and Samantha (1), stepchildren, various charities and business associates, and she couldn’t be happier spending time with family over spending every minute at the rink.
With an early love for figure skating as a child in Edmonton, Jamie turned that passion into hard work and was immediately recognized as a unique talent by coaches and scouts. By age 16, Jamie was already securing novice bronze and 8th place in junior ladies at the Canadian Championships as a singles skater.
But her real success on the ice began when she tried pairs skating, first with Jason Turner (placing 12th at 1994 Winter Olympics) and then with her future first husband several years later. While Jamie did return to singles skating in 1995, eventually a 1998 skate with David Pelletier blossomed into a successful career and a marriage several years later.
The pair were so successful that before they stopped competing internationally, they had won a gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics, and placed first in the World Championships, Four Continents Championships, Canadian Championships, Grand Prix Final, Skate America, Skate Canada International and the Canadian Open. The pair has since been inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and the Skate Canada Hall of Fame.
“I started skating when I was three and I really loved it. I did it as long as I could and got more back from it than I ever thought I could,” said Jamie. “When I was a little girl, I dreamed of going to the Olympics like Elizabeth Manley, and to make it years later was more than I could ever ask for.”
“I always loved skating, but eventually I started to see it as a job.”
After the Olympics, Jamie and David began touring with Stars on Ice, but the eventual birth of her first son Jessie in 2007 began to change priorities in her life as the travel and training schedule took a toll on family time. A few years later, David and Jamie had separated, and eventually divorced in 2010, but have remained the best of friends. Jamie remarried in 2012 to retired NHL star and current sports commentator Craig Simpson and shortly after their marriage, Jamie gave birth to her second child, Samantha. Craig also has three children from his first marriage.
“The dynamics between all us adults is just amazing. David is so incredibly helpful with Jessie, and we even just all went horseback riding for Jessie’s birthday. We are still one big buddy family,” said Jamie.
And with the birth of a second child comes twice as many parental responsibilities, schedules, and of course, sports.
“[Jessie] has no interest in figure skating, he wants to be a hockey goalie,” said Jamie, adding that she lets him follow his interests and doesn’t impart her love for figure skating on him.
“We try to have him in two things per season. We feel it’s important to have him immersed in different things. And not just sports but also music, which we feel is great for kids to balance their body and mind,” said Jamie.
Lessons from Sports
Even though Jamie is sure she made the right decision to retire in 2012 after a glory-filled competitive career, tour with Stars on Ice and successful seasons on CBC’s Battle of the Blades as a competitor and judge, Jamie said she learned a lot of lessons on life, diet and exercise from her sports career.
“I always loved skating, but eventually I started to see it as a job, so I Skyped Craig from South Korea and said I was done. Maybe one day I will work as a [skating] consultant, but I won’t spend seven to 12 hours a day at a rink anymore,” said Jamie.
With that freedom, Jamie is very content to be a doting mom, philanthropist, Alberta Special Olympics Board member, shareholder in Glow Juicery and is even involved in husband Craig’s wine distribution business, Simmer Fine Wines.
“Sports teach us so much about life. The challenges you face, the discipline, the perseverance and even the winning and losing,” said Jamie.
She does has some caution for parents who push their children too hard: “I get a lot of parents who want me to talk to their kids because their kids don’t want to be at the rink. I always tell them that they shouldn’t be there then. Let them do it because they love it, and then just nurture, support and encourage them. If they don’t want to do it, don’t make them. And if they do, just sit back and enjoy watching them, don’t try to coach them,” she said.
But it wasn’t just life lessons Jamie learned from her successful career, she also learned a lot about diet and the need for exercise.
“I have never had any kind of an eating disorder, and I have seen how that can affect some people. I figured if I was working out and skating, I needed fuel. I always just tried to follow the zone diet, that includes smaller meals and proteins, good fats and non-complex carbs. I used to tell Dave [Pellitier] that I will never be the skinniest girl, but I will be the strongest,” said Jamie.
“After I retired I cut back to two meals a day, but I wasn’t losing any weight. So I went back to five smaller meals a day. I might have a container of quinoa, chickpeas, carrots and cabbage and I will pick at that all day until dinner, and then I might have a smoothie, eggs and bacon for breakfast. I don’t really worry about diet, even with the kids, as long as it’s balanced,” she said.
And just because Jamie is “retired” is certainly doesn’t mean she has retired from keeping fit, despite a hectic family and life schedule.
“I found that I need ‘Jamie time’ whether that is working out, yoga or meditating,” she said.
That ‘Jamie time’ includes working out five days a week with Barre Body Studio on Mondays and Thursdays, Orangetheory on Tuesdays and Fridays and yoga or another low-impact sport on Wednesdays. Jamie said she loves the low-impact and “kick-ass” sculpting nature of Barre, but also loves the intensity of Orangetheory.
“We all keep walking out of there saying how to tough it was today, like we are expecting a light day, but then I realized they don’t have any light days. We are burning calories and sweating hard every time,” said Jamie.
“Right now I am really just enjoying giving back to the community. When I was skating, I was always asked to help great charities but I never had the time due to my hectic training and travel schedule,” said Jamie.
As for her own personal future, Jamie said she is in a really happy place these days and may look at possibly helping consult on the odd skating routine, but for now she is just enjoying the extra family time and the bright future.
“I’m a very positive person. I have surrounded myself with great people who encourage me and inspire me so I feel so blessed to be near so many wonderful people.”
Favourite Movie: The Notebook
Favourite Book: The Inner Athlete
Favourite TV Show: Modern Family
Favourite Band/Music: Anything 80s
Favourite Food: Sushi
Favourite Sinful Food: Cinnabon