Julia Dujmovits is a snowboarder, entrepreneur and yoga instructor. She was the first Austrian to win an Olympic gold medal in snowboarding.
How do you spend your time these days? Are you working on any new projects?
During the Olympics in 2018, my body told me I needed to take a break from snowboarding so it could heal. I had been rehabbing for a knee injury for a year and a half and I knew I needed to make getting healthy a priority. I had no idea what I would do next other than that I needed to follow my heart. This was a bit scary, but I find fear inspiring if I can build a plan around it. I knew I would figure out my next adventure.
And then things started to happen: I was invited to speak at the TEDx conference in Vienna (my home country), and started to explore being an entrepreneur. I was fortunate to meet Ram Dass who inspired me to spend some time in India. As a yoga teacher, India focused me on helping people find mindfulness and their deep breath.
This led me to coming up for the concept of Breatholution, an event I am going to launch at the end of April. Breatholution is about synchronizing the world to breath together, with good intentions, for one minute a day. It allows us to give back at least one minute of awareness to Mother Earth, to others and ourselves. We are excited to share the Breatholution app with the world soon.
Meanwhile, I am back on a snowboard these days, freeriding backcountry!
Where did you first start snowboarding and at what age? Were you immediately good at it?
I switched from skiing to snowboarding at the age of seven. I don't even know if I was good at the beginning – I just found it to be so much fun, I couldn’t stop!
You are an Olympic gold medalist. What does it take to become the best in the world at something?
I would say it takes a combination of things: love, joy, excitement, passion, smiles, tears, fear and trust. Whatever you do, you need to be brave enough to allow yourself to be the best in the world.
When I was nine years old, I said to myself, "I want to become an Olympic gold medalist." I didn't talk about it to others but this goal lived deep in my heart. This dream remained my inner fire, best friend, hope, and will – even through moments of lows, injuries, failure, tears and grieving.
You are the first Austrian to win gold in snowboarding. How does it feel to be the first from your country to achieve this feat?
Austria is known for producing talented winter athletes. I am deeply humbled that I achieved this accomplishment of winning a gold in snowboarding. It was honestly a dream coming true. My whole body was shaking before the award ceremony; I couldn't sleep for a week because I was so excited.
I am so grateful for the journey of winning a gold medal. Every high and low moment – it was all worth it. Not because of winning the medal per se, but because the journey imbued in me the confidence to make it happen: to let go, to trust, to just be. It taught me that who I am is good enough, gold or no gold, medal or no medal.
Where I grew up -- in the most eastern part of Austria – there aren’t even any mountains. So winning Austria’s first gold medal in snowboarding was particularly satisfying for me because I could share it with my home state. I am proud to have been a little girl who visualized a dream, believed in herself and made it happen.
“I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR THE JOURNEY OF WINNING A GOLD MEDAL. EVERY HIGH AND LOW MOMENT – IT WAS ALL WORTH IT.”
How do you stay motivated? What keeps you pushing yourself?
Inner growth through overcoming fear. Fear inspires me in a good way: it scares me but it allows me to set goals for myself of overcoming it. To achieve things I need to go through that process.
I am also inspired by just allowing myself to be in the world;. by letting go of inner limitations; by breathing and being here an now.
How do you stay healthy and fit while traveling?
Going running is a great way to explore new places. I meditate and feel the vibe of wherever I am. And I am social and love connecting with people. I believe all of this is part of a healthy, active lifestyle.
How do you deal with the pressure that comes from being a competitive athlete? What do you do to relax?
I love pressure but I also love the release after the pressure subsides. Pressure is what pushes me to focus, to grow, to get through challenging moments. But to feel comfortable with pressure I need to trust myself. I establish that trust through meditation. For me, the only way forward is to go with the flow of life, accepting the journey and the challenges it brings along the way. Acceptance of the process is a first step towards achieving greatness.
You went through a traumatic experience when you were young. Can you tell us about this experience and how it impacted you?
At the age of thirteen, my brother and I lost our whole winter sports team -- our best friends -- in one of Austria’s worst tragedies. 155 people died in a fire when they were caught in a railway tunnel on their way to the Kaprun glacier. My brother and I had been planning on joining our friends on that train, but – because it was a beautiful day – he convinced me to hike our way back instead to take in the amazing view. Georg’s decision saved both of our lives, but we lost many loved ones.
During the first year after the tragedy, I cried every day. Eventually I got back onto a snowboard and started picking up the pieces. But it took me years to really smile from my heart again. That kind of an event you never fully get over. But by believing in myself, I found my inner strength again to carry on. Snowboarding became a healing process but also my drive. I was going through a lot of injuries at this time on my way to the Olympics and it would have been easy to have given up. But I would not give up my dream – I wanted to succeed not just for myself but for the many friends we lost. At the Olympics, I could feel my friends’ presence with me, encouraging me, pushing me on. In my first interview as Olympic champion, I spoke about these friends and how much they will always mean to me.
At the end of the day, the tragedy taught me the important lesson that life is not about the success of winning a gold medal. It is about the journey and process of becoming one with yourself and nature. You grow by pursuing an inner truth down an unknown path. You learn by having enthusiasm and the desire to dream. You thrive by building an order and an alignment towards your passion. Life is a spiritual journey, not a material one.
Do you see yourself as a role model for young people in Austria? What advice would you give them?
I am not focused on being a role model. But I feel honored to be an Laureus Sport for Good ambassador and to work with many amazing athletes around the world who are helping children through the power of sport.
My advice to young people is to live your life to the fullest and in line with your inner truth. Explore the world and make an impact in a positive way. Follow your passion and work through challenges because this builds strength and character. Have the courage to be different. Share yourself.
What woman inspires you and why?
My family has had inspirational women. I admire my grandmothers, who lived through the second world war and worked so hard to build a better future for their families. I have benefited from their hard work and sacrifice and I live my life fully to honor them. And I am inspired by my mom, because she was never overprotective and gave me the freedom to explore and experience my own limits, to crash and to fail. I am inspired when I see non-professional athletes pushing themselves physically to be the best they can be. I have been lucky to have been an athlete so I am deeply touched when I see these women working hard to succeed at sports. Life is full of inspiration. I cheer for all the amazing, awesome, beautiful women out there!
What are your three favorite Katla pieces?
I love the black Butter Hoodie, the grey Katla Force Crop Top and the Ragna skirt.