Jamie Anderson Is The Coolest Athlete We Know

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SuperWoman_LandingPage_JamieAnderson_FINALPhotographed by Clarke Tolton at Urban Cowboy; Designed by Gabriela Alford.
Even if you don’t follow extreme sports, by the end of the recent Sochi Winter Olympics, you knew who Jamie Anderson was. The South Lake Tahoe native’s nearly perfect run in the women’s final event made history, winning the inaugural gold medal in the women’s slopestyle competition. Since starting to ride at age nine — with hand-me-down equipment from her older sisters — Anderson has been a trailblazer in the sport. She became the youngest Winter X Games medalist at age 15, is a four-times X Games gold medalist, and won the 2012 ESPY award for Best Female Action Sport Athlete.

At only 23, she continues to be a powerhouse in the typically male-dominated arena of extreme sports. Yet she exudes a laidback confidence, one that's rare in an industry that’s all about taking risks. Even under intense pressure, she has the enviable ability to remain calm — both on and off the slopes.

I was lucky enough to catch up with Anderson in NYC when she came through to run a 10K. (Even though a recent foot injury left her sidelined, in her true cool, relaxed, style, she decided to still participate, cruising through the course on her longboard.) With her infectious positivity and perpetual smile, she shared how she finds calmness, gratitude, and authenticity — all while being one of the fiercest winter sport competitors. Read on to see how she is promoting a healthy body image, pushing the boundaries for female athletes, redefining what it means to be a true champion.

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001_R29_JAMIE_ANDERSON-91_R_SIZEDPhotographed by Clarke Tolton at Urban Cowboy.
This was your first Olympic competition, and you managed to look so calm before your gold-medal run. What was that moment like for you?
“In the Olympics, there’s so much pressure and so much that is unknown. I wanted it [a medal] so badly, but I also wanted to be okay with whatever the universe had planned for me. Right before I dropped in, I had a little moment of dedicating that run to everyone who helped me get to that exact place and to all the people that believed in me and were rooting for me. Instantly it just brought a wave of calm, from my crown to my heart. It just grounded me.

I was listening to an inspiring song, Nas’ ‘I Can,’ and it just filled my whole aura with love. I let go of the fear and relaxed, and I pretty much had one of the best runs of my life. I never landed that whole week, so when I nailed it, my heart pretty much exploded with joy. I remember thinking that regardless of whether I got a high score or not, I was just so happy that I was able to overcome a really challenging course and a lot of pressure. It was a powerful moment for me.”

How has your life changed since the games in Sochi?
“My life has gotten a lot busier, but it hasn’t changed a whole lot. I’m still my true self, and I try to find balance and joy everyday. And, although I’ve been extremely busy, probably the busiest I’ve ever been in my whole life, I try to be mellow when I can.”

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002_R29_JAMIE_ANDERSON-76_SIZEDPhotographed by Clarke Tolton at Urban Cowboy.
But finding that calmness and stability with such a crazy schedule isn’t easy. How do you keep a clear head?
“For myself, it’s all about going to a place of gratitude and appreciation. It’s really easy to wake up and feel overwhelmed with things. But, I try to reverse that and wake up with gratitude for the new day, for my health, for the sun shining, for all the little things we often take for granted. And then, by reflecting on how lucky I am to be busy and able to explore. I’ve been so blessed with snowboarding, now it’s about doing what I can to make a positive influence in someone else’s life. It’s about finding that purpose every day.”

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
“Live for the moment. It’s all about your perception. When you can change the way you look at things, the things you look at start to change.”

Easier said than done, especially when your career is all about securing the next win. Who shared this advice with you?
“I have so many teachers in my life. I can learn something from everyone — both good and bad. It’s important to have an open mind, and use every moment to change, learn, and grow. Sometimes it’s the most random stuff — like chatting with someone at the airport — that helps you. You never know when you’re going to have the opportunity to connect with someone and learn something new.

Yoga has also been a huge influence in my life the past two years. Practicing has helped me stay in the moment and have appreciation for all things that I’m doing, and all that I want to still do.”
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003_R29_JAMIE_ANDERSON-307_R2_SIZEDPhotographed by Clarke Tolton at Urban Cowboy.
How do you get into the zone when you’re not feeling at the top of your game, but you still have to train or compete?
“Just breathe. Your intuition is more in tune than you think. I’ve found that if we can just quiet down the chatter and get away from the ego, and connect with the soul and spirit, we can rise above anything.

Finding inspiration for snowboarding is something that comes and goes. There are times at the end of the season that I don’t want to snowboard. It’s healthy to take a break — I’m not going to be motivated every day to do the same thing. When I do take time off, or do something different, it reminds me of being on the mountain and having that freedom to express my creativity, be around friends, listen to music, and just be out in nature.”

What makes you feel unstoppable?
“Having determination — setting goals and working hard to achieve them. Also, it’s powerful knowing and feeling like you are capable of doing anything you believe in.”

So, it comes from within?
“Definitely.”

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004_R29_JAMIE_ANDERSON-361__R_SIZEDPhotographed by Clarke Tolton at Urban Cowboy.
Not qualifying for the Vancouver Winter Olympics for the half-pipe event seems like it was a setback. How did you overcome that hurdle?
“I like half-pipe, but I didn’t really love the event. My heart wasn’t in it. So, when I didn’t qualify for the Vancouver Olympics, I wasn’t bummed by it. I was just happy to ride [in the terrain] park, and do the X Games, and other events I was content and happy doing. Then literally a year later, they add my event. It was such a rewarding feeling knowing that I was at peace with what was, and then the universe opened the gate and gave me the opportunity to participant at that Olympic level of events, but in something I really love and am passionate about.”

Being in the spotlight can bring a lot of criticism. How do you stay true to your authentic self?
“You have to let go what other people think. No matter what you do or where you are, people are going to judge you. You have to just know that it’s none of your business. If you believe in yourself, who cares what others think. Let that be fuel for you to work harder.”
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005_R29_JAMIE_ANDERSON-394_R_SIZEDPhotographed by Clarke Tolton at Urban Cowboy.
To get where you are — being the best in your field — you have to constantly innovate and take risks. What have you learned?
“Learning new tricks — the stuff we’re doing is really next-level, it’s big and dangerous. You have to be in tune with yourself and trust your instincts and find that balance between the fear and the excitement. If one thing is off, it can go extremely wrong. So making sure I’m really connected to myself is important. Almost every time I’m stuck in my head or overthinking something is when I get injured. You’re using your physical, mental, emotional self [on the slopes] — all of the elements need to be connected in order to accomplish it.

My recent foot injury is a perfect example of being ungrounded. I was really happy and excited to be in the mountains again, and I was trying to do a really big trick. In my head, I was thinking about other people watching me, and I wasn’t really connected to myself, and reality hit so fast. The moment you aren’t connected, is when a collision happens, or you fall and hurt yourself.

However, I’m grateful for this recent experience because it has taught me how precious that quality actually is. Even when I’m a little out of balance, things like that can happen. Instead of being upset or mad at myself, I just chose to be grateful that I’m aware of that and I can learn from that and take that with me on future events.”

So it seems like you really need to be confident and have a strong mind-body connection to have a smooth run on the slopes.
“100 percent. You can see it in your riding when someone is calm and content: They look graceful and effortless — if I’m stressed out, or not feeling well, I can see it in my riding and attitude. It’s always about finding that connection and being in harmony.”

What type of foods do you eat to fuel your training?
“I like to eat local, organic food. I don’t eat a lot of meat, I mostly eat a plant-based diet – different types of rice, beans, grains, vegetables, and lots of salads. I’ve also been getting into ayurvedic foods lately. Basically I try to eat real, wholesome foods.”

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006_R29_JAMIE_ANDERSON-657_R_SIZEDPhotographed by Clarke Tolton at Urban Cowboy.
Snowboarding, and other extreme sports, are typically seen as a male-dominated activity. Have you ever felt affected by this prevailing masochism?
“People compare the men and women, which is just outrageous. Everyone is out there doing the best they can. Whether the level of riding is different between males and females, has nothing to do with the personal progression that comes with any athlete.”

Despite the fact that the other women are your competitors, you can see the camaraderie on the slopes. Why is it important to support your fellow female snowboarders?
“Because they’re awesome! I see that in a lot of sports, where there’s that catty energy. But, we all encourage each other to be our best. These women, my competitors, are some of my biggest teachers. Instead of being jealous or insecure of something awesome that they’re doing, I try to look at it from the perspective of wow that’s so inspiring, if they can do that, maybe I can work hard and do that too.”

The catty energy will weigh you down – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
“Yeah, it’s so liberating to be in a positive environment, and I try to inspire that wherever I go. I really want to encourage kids to look out for each other, to want to see the best for their friends and competitors. We need more of that — we need to encourage each other. I have no control over anyone else, or what happens in life, I just have myself, so I try to live my example and be the change I want to see.”

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007_R29_JAMIE_ANDERSON-540_R_SIZEDPhotographed by Clarke Tolton at Urban Cowboy.
In the past you’ve said it’s not about being the best, so what is it really about for you?
“For me, it’s about having fun. If it’s not fun, I’m not doing it. Life is too short and too precious and you can’t take things too seriously. So, I don’t focus on being the best, I try to be better than I used to be. Going into the Sochi Winter Olympics, I really wanted to do well, but I had to accept that I am still a good person, with or without a gold medal. It’s freeing letting go of that attachment.”

What’s next?
“I’m going to continue working hard, staying healthy and fit. I want to compete in the next Winter Olympics, but right now, I’m going to take it easy. I’m going to take a step back, reflect, relax, and focus on my charity.

It’s just in its beginning stages, but I have a charity called the Jamie Anderson foundation. It’s going to be focused on environmental sustainability and connecting the youth to nature. We’re going to get the kids outside and out in nature, learning about the plants, food, how precious our resources are, and doing different events. I feel so fortunate to have grown up in the mountains and have that personal connection to nature — if you don’t have that personal connection, how are you going to standup and fight for it? There’s a shift going on, people are waking up, being more conscious, supporting their farmers, buying locally, and riding their bikes more. That’s something I want to be a part of.”

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