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Why Can’t I Be You: Jamie Anderson

The gold-medal snowboarder on starting out, being homeschooled, and getting over fear.

Collage by Ruby A.

Collage by Ruby A.

Anyone who watched the 2014 Winter Olympics knows how rad Jamie Anderson is: her athleticism and style landed her the first-ever gold medal in women’s slopestyle snowboarding. She’s clearly a super-talented athlete, but she’s also a super-chill person who knows how to find balance, stay focused, and find fun wherever she goes. Here’s proof:


PIXIE: I’ve read that you started snowboarding when you were nine years old. Was it something you immediately recognized you had a passion for?

JAMIE ANDERSON: Yes, I loved it from the first day I got on my board! I loved the freedom it brought—exploring the beautiful mountains, being outside with my friends. I just loved the whole vibe of the sport.

Did you know right away that you were really good at it?

I knew I was naturally pretty good, but it definitely took a lot of time, hard work, and dedication to learn all the tricks. But I just really loved being out there and progressing in my riding.

I’ve also read that you were homeschooled–do you think that helped you become the athlete you are? For example, did it teach you self-reliance, or did your parents instill an appreciation in you for going your own way and blazing trails?

Yes! My [five!] sisters and I never had to be told to do our schoolwork—we were all very independent. We cooked for each other, had our chores, helped each other out if we needed it, and took the bus to Sierra at Tahoe, our home mountain, almost every day to snowboard. Me and my two older sisters had ourselves a little Tahoe tribe crew.

Did you have to give anything up in order to reach the top of your field? Is there anything you feel you missed out on? Do you have any regrets?

No regrets! I’m so thankful for everything I’ve been able to do. I didn’t go to public high school—which part of me wanted to do—but I was really focused on snowboarding and building my career. And, to be honest, I knew there was a lot of drama in high school that I didn’t have the energy for! But I did get to go to prom with one of my best friends, Colby Albino, and that was a blast!

What advice would you give to an aspiring snowboarder who may not have the financial ability or access to train as often as they’d like?

I grew up in a family of 10, and financially, it never made sense for me to snowboard. But I worked hard and saved money to make things work. I sold golf balls (illegally!) at the local golf course, I worked with my mom for her lawn-care business, and I reached out to people and brands to support me. Sierra at Tahoe was my first sponsor, and I credit them with helping me gain the momentum to get to where I am today. I have infinite gratitude for anyone and everyone who believed in me and helped me out.

Do you think it’s fair that Olympians aren’t allowed to make money off of their events? Does money factor into your competitive nature at all, or is it an afterthought?

I can’t focus on everything that’s wrong with the Olympics—it’d make me crazy! Let’s just say I think it could be a lot better for the athletes, and I hope to be a part of that movement in the years to come.

How do you stay centered during competitions?

Staying in the moment. Loving what is. Letting things flow.

Do you ever get scared up there? How do you calm your nerves?

Breathing! I take a moment to appreciate where I am, how fortunate I am to be exactly where I am, and to truly focus on grounding my energy and embracing all the positive vibrations around! me. The mountains are powerful, and I absolutely love being on them!

An Olympic gold medal seems like the pinnacle of any sport. Do you feel that way, or are you just motivated to keep going? What are your next goals in competition/life?

I’m motivated to keep going! I know how much I love it, and as long as I’m having fun, I want to continue! ♦

6 Comments

  • mangointhesky June 25th, 2014 4:26 PM

    So inspiring!
    But imagine having FIVE sisters!!!

    http://electricsea.blogspot.com

    • Anaheed June 25th, 2014 4:36 PM

      She also has two brothers!

  • Chloe22 June 25th, 2014 5:27 PM

    YAY HOMESCHOOLERS! REPRESENT!
    http://criticallycouture.blogspot.com/

  • caitmcqueen June 25th, 2014 10:21 PM

    LOVE this article, and Jamie actually seems super cool. Ruby’s collage is gorgeous too.
    Just wanted to point out: in the intro paragraph on the second sentence it says “but she’s she’s.” Thought that might be a typo you’d like to fix!

  • itssabine June 26th, 2014 11:11 AM

    Really inspiring! Jamie seems super chill and down to earth.
    I’ve been skiing since a very young age and I can totally agree with what she said about the sense of freedom it gives!

    http://cursive-type.blogspot.com