Jagger Eaton poses with his bronze medal at the skateboarding men's street finals medal ceremony during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo.
What Jagger Eaton did in 2022 won’t show up on his lengthy list of skateboarding achievements. It might just unlock a few things that make him even better in years to come, though.
Eaton, an Olympic bronze medalist who turns 22 on Feb. 21, decided to unplug and focus on making himself better. He put his skateboard away, changed his diet, listened to those around him and hit the weight room.
Now, he is ready to attack the schedule as the 2023 season begins.
“I feel like in 2022 I really got in control of my mental and physical health,” Eaton said, “and that was probably my biggest win of 2022.”
To be sure, Eaton, of Mesa, Arizona, recorded some big wins on his skateboard, too. In April, just eight months after claiming the men’s park bronze medal in Tokyo, where skateboarding was making its Olympic debut, Eaton claimed his first X Games men’s park gold medal in Chiba, Japan.
Soon after, on July 1, he officially shelved his skateboard and dove headfirst into self-care.
“I think that mental health is a tricky thing,” Eaton said. “What I did for mental health was I put away my skateboard for about a month, a month and a half and I started working out twice a day. I completely changed my diet, I lost a ton of weight. I started reading more, I deleted social media. I just did all the things I felt like were the norm, like what was normal to all of us kids.
“So I just kind of fell off the face of the earth, and it was great exactly what I needed because I needed to find some self-worth outside of contest skating, outside athletics. And I found that.
The experience helped him fall back in love with skateboarding, he said.
It wasn’t a decision he made on a whim.
An athlete of his caliber — he made his X Games debut as an 11-year-old, becoming the youngest competitor in event history — Eaton had to consult with not only family and friends, but his agent, sponsors and USA Skateboarding. They all knew that Eaton, like many people his age, had been through a lot with their last year of high school or first year out disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I feel like these last few years, there were a lot of pits and a lot of peaks,” Eaton said. “That’s kind of your life, and that’s kind of your life as a young athlete, right? As a young athlete, your years from 17 to about 22 are all peaks and valleys of emotional control. You’re basing a lot of your own worth on contest results and the way that your coaches are looking at you and the way that you’re getting sponsors and financially and all of these things.
“It’s a normal thing in life, except I feel athletes go through it a lot younger because they’re brought up caring about something so much, like skateboarding. I think these last few years, I’ve just learned a lot.”