Jamie Anderson interview

words: Pat Bridges

Yesterday inboxes of eco-conscious riders everywhere were graced with a message from Jamie Anderson and Protect Our Winters imploring people to “Drop In & Vote” in order to address climate change via legislation. Within the mass email Anderson earnestly states that, 'As a 26-year-old, I’ve got many more years to keep adventuring around this beautiful Earth, which I definitely plan to do. But, what will our planet look like in the future? From receding snowpack to raging wildfires, the places we play are being destroyed by the impacts of climate change… When you love the outdoors as much as I do, you have to fight to protect it. Right now, the best way to combat climate change is to do one simple thing: VOTE. On November 8, we can choose to elect lawmakers who support climate action.'

Anderson is no longer the precocious South Lake Tahoe prodigy that vaulted onto the world stage at thirteen as the youngest Winter X Games athlete of all time (she bests halfpipe phenom Chloe Kim for that distinction by five months.) Now a twenty-six-year-old veteran of the women’s slopestyle tour, Jamie has accrued an amazing list of accomplishments during the latter half of her life, including eleven X Games medals, one Olympic gold medal, both Transworld and SNOWBOARDER Magazine Women’s Rider of the Year accolades, four ESPY awards and she even scored the cover of the ESPN Body Issue. This fall, Jamie once again graced screens across the globe, yet instead of ascending podiums, she was in the spotlight for descending peaks as a part of the Runway Films Full Moon marquee alongside cinema vets like Leanne Pelosi, Hana Beaman, Annie Boulanger and Marie-France Roy. Yet for all this success, Jamie has encountered at least one failure, she was, 'fired' by none other than The Donald during her three-episode stint on The Apprentice. SNOWBOARDER got a chance to catch up with Jamie to talk about Full Moon, the Olympics, Lindsay Vonn’s demeaning attitude towards snowboarding, and her own relationship with 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump.

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Jamie Anderson

photo: Peter Morning

What has been going on in the off season for Jamie Anderson?

Jamie just bought a place in Whistler. So, I have been working on that property a lot. I have been renting that out by doing AirBnB short-term vacation rentals. I’ve been doing that a lot with a couple different properties in Vermont and Tahoe and Colorado.

You own property in Vermont?

I bought a farm for my mom in Hartland. That is where she has been living the last couple years. It is an alpaca farm.

Hartland’s pretty close to where I grew up in Killington.

Killington’s right there. So, this summer I’ve been busy running around. I snowboarded a little bit. I got to go to Chile for a GoPro trip, but the powder was all shit. Then I went to Australia to ride, but it has been a bit too hectic with all of the training camps. I’ve been trying to do my own thing and take a little time off when I can. I’ve been super busy, business-wise. The property things have been crazy. I’ve been skateboarding and wakeboarding a bit which has been fun. I’ve just been really frickin’ busy. I already feel burnt out and tired and it is only October. I think I’m going to try to take the rest of the month off and road trip up to Big Sur with the Full Moon girls. I have to be in New York for one event and then I’m going to go to Vermont to chill at the farm. Maybe help my mom out with the garden if there is any of it left, ‘cause it might be getting a little cold. There are a couple Big Air events this fall that I might hit, like Milan and South Korea. Or I might just check out and chill in Colorado.

Jamie Anderson

photo: Peter Morning

Jamie Anderson

Jamie Anderson

photo: Peter Morning

Why an alpaca farm?

I don’t know. My mom always wanted to have a farm and then she ended up getting into the alpaca business because it is a really high quality fiber. It is the best fiber on the planet and you don’t have to hurt the animals; you just shave them once a year. It’s really lucrative, so my mom wanted to do it as a retirement plan. A couple of baby alpacas were born this fall and she has a little alpaca shop. My goal has been to start a business and I am going to start an accessory line with beanies and I want them to be made fair trade with alpaca from my mom’s farm. I don’t know where they’ll be made yet, but they’ll all be handmade, sustainable alpaca hats. All the proceeds will go to my charity, which is to help underprivileged youngsters get into sports.

Do you have a name for the company?

The company is called Lou. It is named after me because my middle name is Louise. This is good, you’ll love this, it also stands for “Love Our Universe.” It is going to be a universally, sustainable company where all the products have a purpose, are made in cool areas and people will want to support it because it is more of a cause. At least half of the proceeds will go to my foundation to help sponsor and connect more kids to sports and living a healthy, active lifestyle--especially young elementary to middle school kids.

What is your foundation called?

It is just the Jamie Anderson Foundation, but the fundraising event I do for it every year is called Give Back With Love. It is an event we started in 2010 because as professional athletes we accumulate so much product and sometimes it is hard to find the right places to donate your stuff. Me and a couple of other snowboarders like Leanne Pelosi were like, “We should start an event and get all of our friends to donate their extra stuff to support all the kids that don’t have this expensive equipment.” Snowboarding really is a luxury sport. Every year on December 21, the Winter Solstice, I do the event in Tahoe and encourage others to do the same in their community and spread the love. I distribute the gear to schools, shelters, and the women’s center. In doing that, I also wanted to reach out to kids who have never skied or snowboarded, so I contacted the schools and they had kids write me letters telling me why they should get a sponsorship. In the last five years I have sponsored about thirty kids and gotten them setup and riding. Some of them even compete at nationals, now. I want to keep the foundation growing so I can raise more money and do more for the kids who are now competing.

X Games slopestyle

photo: Peter Morning

Jamie Anderson

Jamie Anderson

photo: Aaron Blatt

Jamie Anderson

photo: Mary Walsh

People know you as this iconic slopestyle rider from the Olympics and the X Games, but you made time this winter to tackle a new challenge. Tell us about that.

I love snowboarding so much and the more I ride those mountains, the less I want to compete. I have to kind of find that balance. Getting to go to Alaska has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. Having an opportunity to be up there with the Full Moon crew was un-fuckin’-real. I can literally now die happy. Getting to ride those mountains and trust myself and that crew, and get out of my comfort zone was the best thing I have done in a really long time. I am fiending. I have been mind surfing. Getting to watch Absinthe and all the movies lately has made me so inspired to ride more and be more creative. I am over schedules and contests, but I am going to pull through and try to go to the next Olympics and kick ass. Then just go ride pow.

What was the hardest adjustment you had to make as you tried to shift your focus from contests to filming and freeriding?

This past winter I felt like I was in a different country every week competing. Then when I wasn’t competing, I was trying to link up with the girls and figure out where the snow was good. For me it was hard to adjust to the patience it takes to film. With Mother Nature, sometimes things don’t align and you need to just accept it. Patience has come to me with age. I feel like I am a lot more patient now than I used to be. It’s really hard. I thought I was going to just get out there and build a jump. I claimed all the tricks I was going to do and then, I wouldn’t be able to do a back three. It was really annoying, but humbling. It takes a lot of hard work to create these shots, but they are priceless. It is so cool.

Who did the most mentoring during this process?

Thankfully I have had a couple kick ass mentors. Leanne Pelosi especially with this project the last few year. She has been really awesome and not only a good friend, but she has helped me help myself with things. Of course, she is a producer for Full Moon and wants me to do things, but she knows how crazy my life is with my schedule. I feel like I can call her and cry my heart out and release some of the madness I am going through. I have always looked up to Hana Beaman. I love her and she is such a beautiful spirit and cool and grounded. I got to ride with her a lot of the time in Alaska and it made me so much more comfortable. Some of the mountains we got dropped off on were freaking me out. Like, I wanted to take the helicopter back down. She helped assure me that I was a good snowboarder.

Are you happy with what you produced for 'Full Moon'?

I am happy. Of course I wished I had more time and shots. It is kind of the beginning and I feel like there is so much more that I want to do and tricks I want to get. That is what keeps me fired up inside. I am really, really stoked on the Alaska segment because you can feel the power. That was a life changing experience for me. I want to go back every year for the rest of my life.

You said before that you are going to try to go to South Korea for the Olympics and there will now be two events for you to compete in. Has that changed your approach at all?

I am trying to take shit a little more seriously, because I know what a powerful opportunity it is to go and compete on the world’s biggest stage. I know how talented I am if I can focus my goddamn energy in the right area and not have a million things going on. I know I can do anything I set my mind to. It has been about organizing my own focus and energy with life and obligations and sponsorships and also finding time for me to be human and sane and grounded when I am mostly in the air. I am really excited. I think that big air is going to be a huge opportunity. I’m not a big fan of scaffolding jumps, but I think it’ll be cool. We need this. Everyone is wanting to push our sport and the time is coming.

What effect will the Olympic big air have on progression in women’s slopestyle?

It is going to accelerate the progression of everything for women’s snowboarding. I even feel like even myself, I have been stuck the last couple of years. I was winning everything and barely even trying. I was doing the same run. I didn’t have a fire inside to learn more because one, that means a lot more risk and two, why would you want to put yourself in a more vulnerable and fearful space when you are already winning every event, anyhow. This last year when girls started stepping it up and I wasn’t winning as easily, it finally lit a fire in me. I am now so inspired by Anna Gasser and Hailey Langland and Klaudia Medlova. This new generation is so powerful and talented and they are pushing themselves. At times, I want to be like scared, but the truth is I am inspired and they have helped me realize what I am capable of. As women, I think we need to have each other to lift each other up. Now everyone is charging and doing doubles. I did my front ten, but it definitely isn’t solid. I know it is there though. I want to get my cab double. I want to do a cab ten. I want my switch back nines on lock. There are a lot of tricks that are right around the corner, it is just a matter of overcoming the fear.

Jamie Anderson

photo: Peter Morning

Jamie Anderson

Jamie Anderson

photo: Peter Morning

Jamie Anderson

You just said that you consciously shied away from risk in slopestyle, but risk is inherent to going riding in Alaska.

That’s absolutely true. I don’t know how our minds work. Going to Alaska was some of the scariest shit I’ve ever done, but I’ve also never felt more alive. Every day before I went out in that heli I prayed, burned incense and asked my guardians to look after our whole crew. All of that made dropping into the Olympics seem like nothing. I guess as a human I got bored of slopestyle shredding and as a human I wanted to see what I am capable of. I know I’m not just here to snowboard. I mean snowboarding is epic, but I know with my riding I can encourage people everywhere to leave their comfort zone and follow their dreams. It is a crazy world we are living in and I think we all need inspiration now more than ever with how things are going.

Do you have any advice for the skateboarders who will be going to their first Olympics in a few years?

My advice is to just chill. Everyone makes such a big deal of the Olympics and of course it is a big dea,l but it is what you make it. If you choose to relax and enjoy every moment of it, you’ll probably be doing good. The best thing for me was getting to ride powder the first three days I was in Sochi. It reminded me why I started snowboarding in the first place.

Is there anything that skateboarding might still be able to do differently than how snowboarding handled its relationship with the Olympics?

I hope they just have a good system with their qualifiers and good events they want to support.

As somebody who was on The Apprentice and knows Donald Trump is there anything you’d like to say about the current election?

I can’t even believe this whole Donald Trump thing. I am blown away! It is embarrassing. I feel like America is the laughing stock of the entire world. It sucks. Yeah, he is a powerful guy and has a lot of money, but I wish he would do something more meaningful with his money than just build golf courses and hold MISS USA Pageants. I have nothing negative to say about him personally because he treated me with respect and was so proud of me for the Olympics. He told me how much fear I had to overcome and the perseverance of coming back from the fall on my first run. He was nice and I have heard good things about him, but with the presidency and him there is too much drama and bad energy. We need a leader we can look up to, who will make good choices for all of us. That being said, I try to focus on the things I can do in my day to day life to make a positive impact. I wish Bernie was still there because he was my favorite.

Candidates aside you’ve made getting people out there to vote one of your causes.

I have. I especially think it is important for our younger generation to vote. Use your voice and use your money and be mindful that you vote every day with the dollars you spend. You can choose to support smaller corporations and smaller farms versus the Walmarts. Every day we have a choice of who we support by supporting them financially and I encourage people to remind themselves of that

Lastly, do you have anything today about Lindsey Vonn’s comment that “maybe” skiers and snowboarders should have separate slopes?

Lindsey Vonn is ridiculous. I love her and think she’s beautiful. She is a badass skier, but saying something like that made her look so silly. It’s the frickin’ 21st century and I can’t even believe that there are still mountains that don’t allow snowboarding and I am really shocked by her vibrations about that. The best thing was that Julia Mancuso posted a photo saying, “I love sharing the mountain with my snowboarder friends,” and she tagged me. It was awesome. Lindsey Vonn, come on homegirl, you’re better than that.

Jamie Anderson

photo: Aaron Blatt