ASPEN, Colo. (AP) Someday, snowboarder Jamie Anderson wants to live on a farm and live off the land.
She’ll raise alpacas, maybe a few chickens, rely on rain water and eat only what her garden produces.
An Olympic gold medal might hang somewhere in the corner of the house. It probably won’t be the focal point, though.
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The 23-year-old from South Lake Tahoe, Calif. – the best slopestyle rider in the world – will be heading to Sochi next month for her sport’s Olympic debut.
She’s excited about the trip, even though she struggles with the mixed messages the Olympics send.
”There are some negative aspects,” Anderson said. ”I’m trying to rise above them.”
She’s bothered by the multibillion-dollar industry the Olympics have become, chafes at competing at a sporting event that promotes healthy living but is sponsored by a fast-food chain. She has read the stories about how she’ll be riding only footsteps away from once-pristine land that has been ravaged by Olympic-focused development – the $50 billion pet project of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
”To hear all the devastation in the valley in Sochi, and all the animals that are getting killed and all the pollution that’s happening, it is challenging to overcome,” said Anderson, who will go for her fifth gold in slopestyle Saturday at the Winter X Games. ”There are a lot of negative things that aren’t (encouraging) me – or a lot of my friends – to go over there. There’s definitely that fine line of like, `Why do I want to support an event that is supported by companies that are ruining our world?”’
She gets the positive aspects, too. The Olympics are supposed to bring the world together to celebrate sports for a few weeks.
As for the quest for a gold medal – it will either happen or it won’t.
”I trust life, the universe and the flow of all of our energy. If I’m meant to win, I will,” said Anderson, who has used her success in snowboarding to create her own clothing line. ”For my personal journey, I really try to, of course, set my goals high and manifest the best, but also detach from them. I know I’m capable of anything I believe in and I really do believe that I can do well.”
That kind of attitude serves her well.
”One thing we preach with our team is be in the moment,” said Mike Jankowski, the U.S. freeskiing and snowboarding coach. ”Try to limit the interference and distractions that are going to be there – the TV cameras, judges, all those things that are inherent with competition. We really try to be in the moment. For Jamie, being the type of person she is, she’s very aware. That self-awareness is what being in the moment is. That’s a very strong way to be as an athlete.”
The fifth of eight children, Anderson got into snowboarding when she received some hand-me-down equipment from one of her sisters more than a decade ago.
Almost instantly, she soared on the slopes.
At 15, she won her first professional meet. It came with a $17,000 check. That was a lot of money for a kid who used to earn an extra buck or two by mowing grass for her mom’s lawn care business or retrieving golf balls out of a river and selling them back to the golfers.
”I never knew I could actually make money through snowboarding,” Anderson said.
Now that she has, she’s trying not to get too caught up in material things.
Anderson has set up a program to help outfit kids in the Tahoe area in snowboarding gear.
She’s enjoying her time on the mountain, thrilled that she has the chance to make a living outdoors, whether it be in California, where she won three events last week, or Aspen, or Sochi.
Growing up, the mountains in her backyard ”was our playground,” she said.
”At the time, I might have thought, `This is boring,”’ Anderson said. ”The older I get, the more appreciation I have for the way my family chose to raise us, being more connected with nature, spending time outside, learning about all the trees, the foods in our natural habitat.