Winter Olympics: Snowboarder Jamie Anderson’s Sacrifices Pay Off with Slopestyle Gold
By Hayli Goode / BSU at the Games
American snowboarder Jamie Andersonwon a gold medal Sunday in women’s slopestyle snowboarding, a new sport in the Winter Olympics.
Just a couple hours after winning gold, she tweeted a photo with them captioned: “Only with the love and support from the most amazing family, friends, community and sponsors! So much gratitude.”
“My family was absolutely amazing. Mom and dad supported us as much as they could – financially, spiritually,” said Anderson, a 23-year-old from South Lake Tahoe, Calif. “They made us go-getters.”
A snowboarder since she was 9 years old, she admits that it is an expensive sport to compete in.
Her five sisters and two brothers, all home-schooled, also competed as children.
In order to support such a large family's expensive hobby, snowboard gear hand-me-downs were common gifts for Anderson and her sisters. For instance, Anderson initially used one of her sister’s old bordercross snowboards.
The hand-me-downs didn't hurt. At 13, she was the youngest person to qualify for the Winter X Games. And at 15, she won her first bronze medal at the X Games Slopestyle Competition.
Her first sponsor, Sierra at Tahoe Ski & Snowboarding Resort in Nevada had previously sponsored her two older siblings.
Billabong International Limitedtook her to the next level financially. In 2004, when Anderson signed with the clothing company, it agreed to help pay for Anderson's travel, gear and attire.
In the 2006 Winter X Games -- her first competition sponsored by Billabong, she eclipsed two-time Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Shaun White as the youngest person to medal in the Winter X Games. Anderson was 15 years old.
After that milestone, Anderson waited two years before reaching the 17-year-old minimum to compete in the Olympics. Then, she had to wait four more years before slopestyle became an official Olympic sport.
In 2011, Anderson renewed her contract with Billabong and extended it into a snowboarding clothing line with them. Her line, which debuted in 2012, also helped her financially with 44 percent of its sales going directly to her.
On the homefront
Meanwhile, at home, she remained a student in addition to her family roles of sibling and daughter.
“I think we started to take of each other," Anderson said. "I was right in the middle, so I remember my older sisters having to take care of us, or babysitting.
“Then, all of the sudden, I was 13 or 14, babysitting and cooking dinner, cleaning up after everyone. But we all kind of made it work.”
Her family's financial sacrifices helped pay for travel, snowboarding attire and costs of maintaining a snowboard. Anderson said she was never in the sport to make money, adding the expenses taught her more about her own motivation and determination to find sponsors and gear in the long run.
Those sacrifices paid dividends in Sochi, with Anderson winning the women's gold medal, with Finland's Enni Rukajarvi taking the silver medal and Great Britain's Jenny Jones taking bronze. Sage Kotsenburg, a 20-year-old from Park City, Utah, won the men's gold medal in a to give the U.S. a sweep in the sport's Olympic debut.
With her win, Anderson gave her sponsors something to brag about: an Olympic gold medalist representing their brands.