Jamie Anderson on Competitive Snowboarding and Embracing the Pressure

“Pressure is a privilege. I do my best, but we can’t always have control over things. We just have to be happy in the process.”

Interview | jamie anderson | snowboarding

Olympic gold medal winner Jamie Anderson has built a reputation as one of the top riders in the business. Her homeschooled childhood gave her the chance to spend every day on the mountains doing what she loves, improving her skills and making her one of the best at what she does. She’s currently won 11 medals, three of them being gold, and we had the privilege of tapping into that wise and energizing mind of hers.

Interview from X Games, Oslo by Hannah Bailey from The Free Life

What’s life like as a competitive snowboarder?

I definitely feel lucky to be a snowboarder and be able to do something that I am really passionate about. We deal with a lot of obstacles and challenges, but I think constantly pushing ourselves to progress, learn and grow is what we do as humans. Especially, being a woman in a male-dominated sport requires a lot of power and grace while you’re trying to find the balance between that feminine and masculine energy.

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Photos: Tim Zimmerman / Mervin

There is a lot of talk about how the best female skaters in the world aren’t actually making a living from skating. What’s it like for female snowboarders?

Thankfully, there has been a lot of support for women’s snowboarding. We have an equal amount of contest money rewards and we’re on tour together, which is kickass!

Do you feel the pressure when competing?

Pressure is a privilege. The emotions you feel and the energy that comes through you are pretty intense. Overcoming fear is what keeps me snowboarding: it’s a really powerful feeling. Not being so attached to the outcome, just trusting that it will flow. I always do my best, but we can’t always have control over things. We just have to be happy in the process. 

Who supports your career in terms of brands and companies? Have you faced any issues over the years with brands dropping female riders?

I’ve been working with Oakley, Monster Energy, GoPro, GNU snowboards and Sierra at Tahoe. There aren’t the same budgets for women from sponsors, so I’ve had some issues and I think there are some challenges to be had with this. It’s getting better, though.

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Photos: Tim Zimmerman / Mervin

How do you feel the marketability and interest in women’s snowboarding changed after The Olympics—especially since slopestyle was added? 

The Olympics have been extremely helpful to showcase women’s sports and I think it’s a gift to show the world that women can charge too!

What’s your favourite type of riding?

I like balancing all kinds of shredding. I think riding for yourself is the most important thing. It gets a little hectic at contests when you’re running around the planet, but it’s really such a gift to be able to travel, see so many beautiful places and meet so many awesome people.

The Free Life contributed to the Full Moon kickstarter campaign (women’s snowboard film project). Can you tell us more about your involvement?

I’m working with the Full Moon film crew, an all women’s project out of Whistler, Canada. It’s been really fun to get out of my comfort zone and go ride some bigger lines and backcountry. I’ve been getting out on my snowmobile, doing a lot of hiking and experiencing how much the natural terrain is a whole different element.

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Photos: Tim Zimmerman / Mervin

Does it feel like women’s snowboarding is now the way it was for men a decade ago, in a DIY sense? 

There aren’t a lot of women making films and I know it’s challenging to raise money and get brands to support, so yeah, I feel like that’s true. That being said, it just inspires us to make shit happen and showcase what can be possible when a group of powerful women come together!

Women are being empowered by action sports around the world, from surfers in Iran and Bangladesh to Skateistan in Afghanistan and Cambodia. Why do you think sport is such a powerful tool for empowerment? 

Because it connects us all. Sports is this unexplainable unity that can change the world. Follow your truth, have fun and enjoy each moment!

In the western world, women and girls’ participation in action sports is on the up. Why do you think this rise is happening? 

Some of it is having the freedom to try. We are so fortunate to be able to try the sports we want as children and cultivate a passion and profession at a young age. It’s a total game changer and why I think women’s sports and women in general are killing it in life.

I’m from a family of five sisters and two brothers, so we had a lot of women-power growing up. My two older sisters are the reason I got into snowboarding and I love that my sisters encouraged me, as I was a little intimidated as a grom to go to the skate park.

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Photos: Tim Zimmerman / Mervin

We know of your love for nature and the outdoors. Where did that come from?

Who doesn’t love nature? We are nature. The sun, the trees, the earth. It’s funny that sometimes that’s forgotten and easily overlooked. Thankfully, I grew up in the mountains so always got to be outside. When I got into snowboarding, it opened a new chapter in my life of exploring and traveling. It has given me so much and I’ve dedicated my life to it.

How would you encourage other girls to get into snowboarding?

It can be so hard to get out your comfort zone and do it, but it helps if you have a little crew of girls that encourages you to go. They say that girls compete against each other, but women empower each other. Instead of being jealous and egocentric, you have to encourage other ladies so they get the courage to get out there.

Thanks, Jamie.

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