Sports
10:41 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Zen And The Art Of Snowboarding: Jamie Anderson Goes To Sochi

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 6:30 am

The first time Jamie Anderson performed a "cab 7," it was not in the script. The trick involves a snowboarder launching off a jump and spinning two full rotations. Anderson had tried it in practice but had never fully executed it.

"I didn't have to do that trick, but I really wanted to and knew I could do it," Anderson says. "For me it was more about the principle of knowing that I can do something even that was really challenging and difficult."

That was the 2007 X Games. Now she calls the cab 7 one of her favorite moves and does it often, along with other high-flying stunts, like she did in last year's X Games, broadcast on ESPN.

Snowboard slopestyle is making its debut at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. It's a flashy event: Riders twirl through the air performing flips and slide across railings, much like you'd see at a skate park. The sport has grown up alongside athletes like Anderson, who at 23 is considered one of the top female snowboarders in the world — and possibly America's best shot at winning gold in this growing sport.

A Risk Taker

On the dock outside her home in Lake Tahoe, Calif., Anderson catches the end of a pink sunset.

"Often, I'll come out on my little medicine walks in the morning and see the bald eagle, which is always just amazing," she says.

Anderson has stayed close to the Sierra, where she got her start at age 9 after receiving a hand-me-down snowboard; her family couldn't afford to buy her a new one. She and her seven siblings were home-schooled, "so I had a lot of time on the mountain — it was like my day care," she says, laughing.

Off the slopes, Anderson has a Zen-like calm. It's surprising given the intensity she brings to her sport. At age 13, she qualified for the Winter X Games. Two years later she won a bronze and became the youngest female medalist there. Now she has taken gold in the X Games four times.

"Ultimately, it kind of reminds me of, like, a playground on the mountain," she says of slopestyle. "There's different features, like rails, and boxes and jumps, sometimes hips and quarter pipes — all kinds of random features."

But Anderson is not just a risk taker. She likes to crochet, and one of her trademarks is hugging a tree before a big run — or that's how it looks on camera. The first time she did it, she was actually meditating to clear her mind while wrapping her arms around a tree. She tries to bring that sensibility to her sport.

"I get to a competition and feel out the slopestyle course, and kind of see which directions the jumps are flowing, and which way I feel like I can do my tricks," says Anderson. It's like "having an idea in my head but being open to changes, and kind of seeing what flows most effortlessly."

Jamie's older sister Joanie is also a professional snowboarder. She says Jamie's style is authoritative.

"She goes a lot bigger than a lot of the girls out there," says Joanie. "And she's supersmooth. She has a way of always landing on her feet. ... She's kind of like a cat."

The point was driven home in a recent episode of the National Geographic show Mountain Movers, when Jamie propelled herself off a jump and traveled 65 feet over a roadway. Now she has hopes of executing a new trick, one that involves spinning 900 degrees.

"Sometimes I'll even have a dream of the trick I want to do, and I'll land it perfectly," she says. "And then I know, I'm like, 'OK, I'm ready. I want to do this trick.' But it takes so much courage."

Whatever trick she pulls off, Anderson will continue pushing this growing sport to the limit, including, for the first time, all the way to the Olympics.

Copyright 2014 KUNR-FM. To see more, visit http://www.kunr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In the lead-up to the Winter Olympics, we're bringing you a series called The Edge, looking at what athletes are doing to give themselves the upper hand. Today, we learn about Jamie Anderson. She's considered one of the top female snowboarders in the world, and she's recently secured a spot on the first-ever U.S. Olympic team doing the extreme sport of slopestyle.

Will Stone, of Reno Public Radio, has this profile of the athlete and the sport she's mastered.

WILL STONE, BYLINE: The first time Jamie Anderson performed a cab 7, it was not in the script.

JAMIE ANDERSON: I didn't have to do that trick. But I really wanted to, and I knew could do it.

STONE: The trick involves a snowboarder launching off a jump and spinning two full rotations. Anderson had tried it in practice but never fully executed it.

JAMIE ANDERSON: For me, it was more about the principle of knowing that I can do something even that was really challenging and difficult.

STONE: That was the 2007 X Games. Now, she calls the cab 7 one of her favorite moves and does it often, along with other high-flying stunts, like in last year's X Games, broadcast on ESPN.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED ESPN BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Coming into the down pavement with a big old cab 7 there into the money booter, switch backside 5 for Jamie. Wow.

(SOUNDBITE OF HONKING GEESE)

JAMIE ANDERSON: (Laughter) Hey, settle down.

STONE: On the dock outside her home in Lake Tahoe, Calif., the 23-year-old catches the end of a pink sunset.

JAMIE ANDERSON: Often, I'll come out on my little medicine walks in the morning and see the bald eagle - which is always just amazing.

STONE: Anderson has stayed close to the Sierra, where she got her start at age 9, after receiving a hand-me-down snowboard. Her family couldn't afford to buy a new one. She and her seven siblings were home-schooled.

JAMIE ANDERSON: So I had a lot of time on the mountain. It was like my day care. (Laughter)

STONE: Off the slopes, Anderson has a Zen-like calm. It's surprising, given the intensity she brings to her sport. At age 13, she qualified for the Winter X Games. Two years later, she won a bronze, and was the youngest ever to medal there. Now, she's taken gold in the X Games four times.

JAMIE ANDERSON: Ultimately, it kind of reminds me of like, a playground on the mountain. There's different features - like rails and boxes and jumps, sometimes hips and quarter pipes; all kinds of random features.

STONE: But Anderson is not just a risk-taker. She likes to crochet, and one of her trademarks is hugging a tree before a big run - or that's how it looks on camera. The first time she did it, she was actually meditating to clear her mind, while wrapping her arms around a tree. She tries to bring that sensibility to her sport.

JAMIE ANDERSON: So when I get to a competition and feel out the slopestyle course, and kind of see which directions the jumps are flowing and which way I feel like I could do my tricks - maybe having an idea in my head but being open to changes, and kind of seeing what flows most effortlessly.

STONE: Jamie's older sister, Joanie, is also a professional snowboarder. She says Jamie's style is authoritative.

JOANIE ANDERSON: She goes a lot bigger than a lot of the girls out there. And she's super smooth. She has a way of always landing on her feet - she's kind of like a cat. (Laughter)

STONE: The point was driven home in a recent episode of a National Geographic show, when Anderson propelled herself off a jump and traveled 65 feet over a roadway. Now she has hopes of executing a new trick, one that involves spinning 900 degrees.

JAMIE ANDERSON: Sometimes I'll even have a dream of the trick I want to do, and I'll land it perfectly. And I'm like, OK, I'm ready. I want to do this trick. But it takes so much courage.

STONE: Whatever trick she pulls off, Anderson will continue pushing this growing sport to the limit - including, for the first time, all the way to the Olympics.

For NPR News, I'm Will Stone in South Tahoe. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.