Heroes: The Jacksons

You’ve probably heard of Eric “E.J.” Jackson: International Whitewater Hall of Famer, Olympian, four-time reigning World Freestyle champ, at 45 still arguably the best competitor in the world. And, for that matter, his daughter Emily, 19, the 2008 women’s World Cup champ. And his son Dane, 15, a freestyle prodigy who charged the Class V Green River Narrows at 12. But you probably don’t know that the real hero of paddling’s first family is the matriarch. Kristine Jackson doesn’t throw helixes on river waves the size of duplexes; she stays on shore, managing logistics and home schooling the kids. But E.J. wouldn’t be whitewater’s answer to M.J. had his gaze not wandered from the gates at the 1987 U.S. Slalom Team Trials to a young Long Island girl in candy-striped shorts.

Read: Heroes – The Jacksons