Meet Jamie Anderson, who could be the first American to take home a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Despite what critic Bob Costas says, slopestyle skiing will most likely draw great national interest on Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 8-9) when competition begins at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
A Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort competitor, Anderson is the favorite to capture a gold medal in the Women’s Slopestyle snowboarding event.
“It’s special to come together for the Olympics because of how much love you get for your country,” Anderson said. “You’re representing your nation. It’s something I’ve never done before.”
A South Lake Tahoe rider, Anderson climbed the rungs of her sport very rapidly. She started at age 13 with her first trip to the X Games. And it wasn’t long before she became the youngest Winter X-Games athlete to have won a medal, taking a bronze at 15.
Anderson grew in stature in the sport. She has added seven X Games medals, including four golds, along with a wall full of slopestyle hardware.
Slopestyle is making its Olympic debut in Russia. Costas, an NBC commentator, openly criticized the slopestyle event on the Today Show in January.
“I think the president of the IOC should be Johnny Knoxville, because, basically, this is just ‘Jackass’ stuff that they invented and called Olympic sports,” Costas told Today Show host Matt Lauer.
Anderson hopes to prove Costas wrong. “I think it’s amazing. I feel slopestyle is going to bring a new fun energy to the games,” Anderson said. “There’s a lot of amazing athletes.”
This week, the slopestyle course has made news for all the wrong reasons. U.S. gold medalist hopeful Shaun White injured his wrist today on the course and several other competitors have suffered injuries as well.
No matter what fixes they make, there’s no taking the danger completely out of slopestyle.
“The course is a little intense,” Anderson said. “Everyone’s making the best of it. I’m having a questionable time getting used to it. But I’m just being slow, patient, taking them one jump at a time. At the end of the day, we’re just snowboarding."
Anderson has a large bag of tricks, smooth style, and consistent riding, which is why she is a strong favorite heading into the Women’s Slopestyle, which begins Saturday.
Anderson will unveil some new tricks, but isn’t ready to reveal them. “I’m working on it for sure, but nothing is guaranteed.” she said.
Regardless of her finish in the 2014 Winter Olympics, Anderson will enjoy the moment.
“I can imagine how humbling it will be to just walk through the opening ceremonies,” she said.