Winter Olympic champion and South Lake Tahoe native Jamie Anderson won not only a gold medal for Women’s Slopestyle Snowboarding at Sochi, but also the attention of people worldwide with her incredible snowboarding skills and her magnetic and down-to-earth personality.
One of 8 children, she grew up with the mountains at her doorstep and picked up her first snowboard at 9 years old. She fell in love with the sport instantaneously and in just a few short years worked her way up to the Winter X-Games, where she took home bronze and became the youngest athlete in the history of the sport to receive a medal. The following year, at just 16, she won gold in the Winter X-Games, making her the youngest woman to win a Winter X-Games gold medal. Since then she’s won victory after victory, including 3-time women’s TTR World Tour champion, two-time Winter Dew Tour women’s champion, six-time X-game gold medalist, and now a 2014 Olympic gold medalist for the Olympic-debut of Women’s Slopesytle Snowboarding.
The influence of growing up in Tahoe instilled in her a love for the outdoors that radiates in conversations. It’s clear that nature, the mountains, and the energy she draws from them are all a part of who she is. Jamie took time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about life, snowboarding, family, nature, her amazing experiences, and what it feels like to win gold.
Tell me about your journey from the first time you picked up a snowboard at 9 years old to winning gold in Sochi. What has been your motivation to—literally—go for gold?
I feel my motivation has come from a lot of different aspects of my life. But more than anything, truly loving and being passionate about what I’m doing. Snowboarding is one of my favorite things to do in life, and it has been more then a blessing to be able to compete on a professional level, travel this beautiful Earth, and go to the Olympics. Winning the Gold is more [amazing] than I had ever imagined and I am so very grateful!
How did you get into Slopestyle?
I grew up riding Sierra-at-Tahoe and always loved riding the park. As I got older, I chose to put my energy into the Slopestyle event and to really progress.
How did growing up in Tahoe influence your love for the sport?
Just growing up in the mountains, I loved everything about being outside and exploring. So when I was influenced into snowboarding from my two older sisters, Joanie and Stacie, I just knew it was super fun and I wanted to continue doing it.
You seem very close to your family. What role does your relationship with your family play in your success?
Family is key. Having the love and support from your family is so important. They have helped me in so many different ways. I’m not sure where I would be without them.
What thoughts are going through your head when you’re spinning and flipping through the air?
Thankfully, you’re in that present moment and you don’t have time to think about much. Present time consciousness!
Do you listen to music when snowboarding? What do listen to?
I listen to all kinds of music when I’m snowboarding. During the Olympics and most of this last season I was listening to Nas, “I Can”.
It doesn’t snow year-round in Tahoe. What do you do in summer?
I enjoy the summer activities Tahoe has to offer, like hiking, mountain biking, swimming, and stand up paddle boarding. And I go to New Zealand or South America to train in August/September.
Take us back to the day you won gold. It was your last run and you said that you were under a lot of pressure, but you “had to believe I was capable of landing that run.” How did believing you could do it help you overcome the pressure?
I feel believing in anything you want to accomplish is possible. Just visualizing, and truly trusting yourself and having faith. For myself, I chose to dedicate that specific run to anyone and everyone in my life who has helped me get to that exact place—my family, friends, sponsors, fans, the beautiful mountains that provide the infinite energy source. We cannot do anything alone. When I felt that calm from letting go of any attachments—and just snowboarded because its fun and because I truly love it—all the thoughts in my mind released and I just had fun.
What did it feel like to win gold?
It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I had so much pressure and stress leading into that event and in all of the Olympic qualifiers. Although I try not to attach to the pressure and stress, it’s definitely still there. Winning the Gold was unbelievable! I’m still taking it in.
What has snowboarding taught you?
To appreciate everything in life—nature, my health, the mountains, my family for supporting me, and the support from all my sponsors. And to always be grateful for all the blessings. Life is a gift and perception is powerful. You can create the reality you want to see in your life.
Is there something about yourself that people would be surprised to learn?
I work closely with the Sugar Pine Foundation in Lake Tahoe, and every spring we plant a lot of sugar pine seedlings—the native Lake Tahoe tree, with the big pine cones. Come out and support, and plant some trees, because without trees we cannot breathe!
Photos © Jamie Anderson. Used with permission.