The Washington Post

Snowboarder Jamie Anderson rides ‘good vibes’ to gold

Jamie Anderson of the USA celebrates after winning the women’s snowboard slopestyle final at the SochiOlympic Game. (EPA/JENS BUETTNER)

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — When Jamie Anderson straps into her snowboard and zips down the hill, she wears around her neck a string of wooden beads: “my mantra beads,” she said. “My friend — my yoga teacher in Breckenridge — made them for me with like sacred energy put into them.”

There’s a large quartz crystal, too. “A powerstone,” she said. And also a triangular moonstone. And after her stellar performance Sunday in the women’s slopestyle competition, she has a new piece of neckware: an Olympic gold medal.

Anderson, 23, had found plenty of success riding slopestyle the past eight years – at 15, she was once the youngest Winter X-Games medalist – but now that her sport has reached the Olympic stage, she said she could feel the pressure. How exactly does one deal with such a unique stress? Candles, yoga, meditation?

“All of the above,” she explained at a news conference. “I was just talking about that. Last night, I was so nervous. I couldn’t even eat. I was trying to calm down. Put on some meditation music, burn some sage. Got the candles going. Just trying to do a little bit of yoga. … Last night, I was processing so much. I just had to write. I write a lot. I was writing in my journal. Listening to calm music. It was all about good vibration. Thankfully I slept really good. I did some mantras. It worked out for me.”

Sitting next to her, bronze medalist Jenny Jones couldn’t hide her laughter. The English rider was asked what she did the night before the competition. “Actually last night I watched Downton Abbey,” Jones said.

On the second full day of competition, Anderson quickly emerged as one of these Olympics most unique characters. Her mom is a Vermont native who took a road trip to California in her 20s, settled in the Lake Tahoe area where she met Anderson’s father while working at a ski resort. Eight kids later and a couple of decades later, most of the family was in stands at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. Anderson’s “spirit grandma” – an 80-something-year old Tahoe neighbor – was also in attendance cheering on the carefree young rider.

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Mountains of the Olympics

Anderson’s place in slopestyle history was secure before Sunday’s gold-medal performance. She dominated at Winter X Games and the Winter Dew Tour. But this was something else entirely, as her sport was suddenly showcased to a global audience.

“Oh my gosh, it’s mind-blowing,” she said. “So much anticipation leading up to this event. To be able to calm your mind and really believe and have that trust and faith that you really are capable of doing what you want to do.”

“This is definitely the biggest stage in the world for sports,” she said shortly after stepping off the podium. “After getting second-place at X-Games [last month], I was really passionate and determined to come out here and do my best and do everything I can to be my strongest and most grounded, calm self — even with the hype of everything in the outside world. It just feels out of control. I can’t even explain what I’m processing right now.”

More Olympics news

Bode Miller: ‘I have a lot of races ahead of me’

Wagner’s debut earns U.S. spot in medal round of skating team competition

Jenkins: If you can’t beat the Dutch speedskaters, why not join them?

Sochi problems aren’t gone but are partially forgotten

Wise: Gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg is a good dude

Hannah Kearney settles for bronze in moguls

A bobsledder has scare with an elevator shaft

A snowboarder’s insane haircut

Photos from Day 1 of competition

Rick Maese is a sports features writer for The Washington Post.



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Rick Maese · February 9, 2014