I Learned To Snowboard (& Handle The Cold) With An Olympic Gold Medalist

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IMG_7678Photo Courtesy Of Olay Fresh Effects.
A couple months back, I found myself balanced perilously atop a snowboard — overlooking the gorgeous summit from the Keystone ski resort in Colorado — with world-famous (and Olympics-bound) snowboarder Jamie Anderson coaching me. I was frightened, exhilarated, and rapidly falling over. I had never attempted any sort of snow sport before, ever. I'd barely even seen snow.

First off, you need to know that I'm from the South. I grew up in Georgia, about an hour outside of Atlanta. Plenty of depictions of the South in pop culture are exaggerated — hardly anyone maligns the "Yankees." In fact, hardly anyone uses the word "Yankee" at all. But, one stereotype that holds pretty much true is that southerners are terrified of snow, ice, and cold weather.

Take, for example, the recent ice storm that utterly debilitated my homestate. A dusting of snow and ice left an entire city of five million completely incapacitated. I can vaguely recall the "blizzard of '96" from my childhood — a week of public service paralysis due to approximately three inches of snow.

Fast forward to my early 20s: I decided to move northward to NYC, and told my mother about my plans. "But," she exclaimed, "it's too cold up there! You can't live in a place that cold." (Apparently forgetting that millions of people live and thrive north of the Mason Dixon Line.)

And, in a way, she was right. Even after living in a colder clime for several years, I find my Southern mindset creeping in come October: "Batten down the hatches and pray for spring." While sitting out subfreezing days wrapped in fleece blankets makes sense in a region with about six of said days, relying on those tactics here in New York meant that I was spending months closed up at home, too wary of the windchill to do much of anything.

After years of S.A.D.ly fighting through winters up here — and purchasing a sun lamp (highly recommended), I resolved to do something this winter other than wait for the temps to hit 50-plus again. So, when I had the opportunity to interview Jamie about the creation of her snowboarding vines produced by Olay Fresh Effects and her upcoming Olympic contention, I jumped.
Video copy 26 (1)Photo Courtesy Of Olay Fresh Effects.


Both Jamie and everyone at Keystone emphasized their love of the outdoors — rain, sleet, or shine — they ran in the spring, mountain biked in the summer, and suited up and hit the slopes in the winter. And, precariously perched on that snowboard on top of a mountain (and clothed in a newly acquired, snazzy get-up) I started to look and feel the part. Yes, I fell over and over. No, I could not really direct my snowboard in any real way.

But, I felt grateful that I was thrust into this improbable situation with a future Olympian who was willing to take a few minutes to share the sport she loved with an absolute newbie. Jamie's stance on her board was so strong and effortless, and she helpfully gave me pointers on technique. (I got so far as learning how to stand up.)

Since our little lesson, Jamie's gone on to win the gold medal in women's slope-style snowboarding. Not too shabby. In a slightly less impressive series of events, I've gone on to be less terrified of snow and cold weather. After hitting the (bunny) slope that day, I've gone snow hiking, snowshoeing, and snow tubing.

And, I've started to shift my actions. I'll walk a mile home, even in 20-degree weather, rather than hiding out on the train. I don't view stepping outside in frigid conditions with the same dread. I might not be Olympic bound, but I've definitely made the most of the outdoors this winter.