Jamie Anderson celebrates her slopestyle gold at the 2018 Olympics.

Like many athletes, snowboarder Jamie Anderson has had an unusual year thanks to COVID-19. Many snowboarding events in 2020 were canceled thanks to the pandemic, and Anderson’s training has also been impacted. Anderson, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in slopestyle (she’s seen celebrating her 2018 slopestyle gold above) who also won silver in the big air event in 2018, lives in Whistler, B.C. at the moment, and she hasn’t been able to do many of her regular off-mountain or on-mountain activities for a long while. She spoke to The Comeback last month as part of a press campaign for her partnership with Olay Body, and said she spent 2020 trying to figure out ways to stay physically and mentally fit despite pandemic restrictions.

“This year has definitely been really hard. I’m sure for everyone in different areas, but obviously there’s been no snowboarding. I haven’t even really been able to go to simple things like yoga or the gym. Things are starting to open up more here, but since I’m not Canadian I have limitations. So I’ve just been trying to be adaptable and do things a little different. I’ve been hiking more in my backyard. I’ve been mountain biking a lot. Doing some good breathing exercise sand mindfulness exercises that can help me feel good without having to go do a yoga class or go to the gym.”

“And just realizing it’s not just a physical thing. Snowboarding takes so much of everything that you want to be strong, you want to be mentally sound, you want to be emotionally content. So working on all those areas of my life has been my goal this last year.”

As for signing on with Olay, Anderson said that partnership made sense because the brand’s focus on fearless women resonated with her.

“I feel this partnership with Olay was a good fit because they really embody fearless women and realizing that we’re all one. And they’ve just been doing so much good to support other women that are dealing with cold, harsh conditions. They’re doing a lot to give and it just felt really really amazing, really good to be a part of.”

She said the idea of fearlessness is something she grew up with, and something she wants to pass on to younger women.

“I feel it’s important because I grew up in a big family. I have five sisters and a beautiful mother. Which I feel really embodies being fearless. And I think fear is something that all of us have to deal with in life. Having strong women around you that are fearless and that realize we are capable of anything and the only thing holding us back is our own thoughts or our own fear. That’s why I think it’s important, you know? Tapping into that winter warrior power. Being a strong beautiful woman, feeling good in your skin. Feeling good to conquer anything that comes your way. And also to influence the next generation of little ladies to also be strong and fearless.”

Some of that inspiration for Anderson came from watching early female snowboarding stars, many of whom she got to work with in the 2018 Runway Films snowboarding film Full Moon (available to watch here). She said filming that was a tremendous experience, and it reinforced how unique and supportive the snowboarding community can be.

“I think the snowboard community is really special because snowboarding is an individual sport, but you wouldn’t do it without your friends or your community. So having a good community is like the fundamental factor of snowboarding. And being around really beautiful strong fearless women is amazing! All the girls in Full Moon are all the women I looked up to and always admired. And I couldn’t believe they were doing all this stuff that really scared me, like riding giant mountains in Alaska and doing tricks I didn’t think were possible. And they’re doing it with grace and completely fearless and it just really inspired me.”

Anderson said she’s hopeful she can continue that trend of inspiring the next generation.

“I would love to be a role model for younger girls and to just help influence them to also be fearless, and to be brave and confident, and to trust that the only thing limiting them is their own beliefs. …I think I was really blessed to have the mother I had and the sisters around me that really helped encourage me when I was feeling afraid and I was feeling stuck or uncertain, or all the things that come up. I think having that community around you is essential and they were really were like my best friends growing up.”

As for 2021, Anderson’s optimistic it will be a better year with more snowboarding opportunities, including some qualifiers ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

“There’s a handful of events this year that I’m really looking forward to. The Natural Selection tour in Jackson Hole. There’s a couple Olympic qualifying events…we have maybe five events on the schedule through Austria, Switzerland, Colorado, California, and Canada.”

She said what really excites her isn’t the competitions, but rather the backcountry riding, though.

“I love powder. There’s really nothing like riding the backcountry. That’s always been my favorite.”

On the competition side, park contests are her favorite.

“For competition, I’ve always loved to compete in park. When I was younger I did like half-pipe, park, and alpine. And the park was always really fun. It felt like a playground. There’s a lot of freedom and room for creativity. And I’ve always really loved that part.”

Of course, a lot of snowboarding events this year may still wind up changing or being canceled thanks to COVID restrictions, so Anderson said it’s important to remain flexible and prepared for whatever may come. But she’s hopeful she’ll be able to get the Olympic qualifying results she wants and then get back to backcountry powder.

“I know I need to feel good, mentally prepare, physically prepare and then hopefully go out there and get a couple good results and be able to lock in my Olympic spot and then be able to go ride more pow and film in the backcountry.”

[Photo from Jack Gruber/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.