Jasey-Jay Anderson isn’t aiming to just win when he takes to the hills in Stoneham, QC this upcoming weekend for the Snowboarding World Championships. A 2010 Olympic gold medallist in the parallel giant slalom and a four-time world champion, Anderson is widely regarded as the most decorated snowboarder in the history of Canadian snowboarding.
But the 37-year-old native of Mont-Tremblant, QC is honest when he states that he may not be ready to compete and beat the world’s best in Stoneham. At least not yet.
Anderson had all but officially retired from the sport after his comeback victory in Vancouver where he erased a 0.75 second deficit between himself and Austrian Benjamin Karl, the then top-ranked snowboarder in the world, to achieve the mecca of athletics. It was during that brief retirement that Anderson decided to shift his focus to creating and manufacturing snowboards, a passion that has turned into a quest to build perfection.
“Equipment is at the base of everything,” said Anderson. “If my board, plates, bindings and boots are on, I’m on. I’ve purely been a board developer the last couple months. I tried having a manufacturer build my boards, but it wasn’t working out for me. So I started taking that on myself and actually building my boards.”
Anderson thought retiring at 34 would have been a good age to stop competing and reinvest himself in snowboarding in another way. Equipment became his calling, but he soon found out that he could not find anyone with his experience to test out the boards he was creating.
His passion for manufacturing would soon force him back into competition, but in the quest to create the perfect board Anderson has seen his ability to physically train diminish until he finds the perfect combination of speed and precision in his designs.
“My priority right now is finding the right board,” said Anderson. “Tearing everything down and building the base. People don’t realize the extent of how important boards and equipments are. If you want an edge, you have to go further than what everyone else is doing. It’s the only place I’ve been putting my energy in right now. I’m putting the framework in for Sochi. I get an average of 4-5 hours of sleep a night and the rest is spent studying, working on boards and planning.”
This weekend is a perfect example. Anderson is unsure if it’s realistic to bet on him to win at Worlds, but he knows this is a great opportunity to test out his board and equipment out against elite riders during the most prestigious event outside of the Olympic Games.
Getting here has been a struggle for Anderson who admits he hasn’t had the opportunity to physically train his body the way he use to and should with close to 95% of his time going into perfecting his craftsmanship.
“Two days ago I drove four hours to get here at four in the morning from my home,” said Anderson. “I did my training and realized there were several key things missing. I drove back that same day and built a board overnight and returned. That’s how I’ve been for two months.”
Sacrificing isn’t something Anderson is afraid of. Every win and every loss have come because he has had to push himself to his limits and perhaps push other things away or put them on hold.
“People ask how do you do it (win),” said Anderson. “You invest in yourself with determination. I didn’t win 2010 because I thought it would be fun. It sucked. It was grueling. It’s a hard journey to enjoy when you sacrifice everything from every waking moment, every dime, every personal link you have, relationships, friendships.”
His gold medal and his Olympic experiences, four Games in all, is not something that Anderson would trade for the world or soon forget. Anderson is a rider who has faced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
The 2010 gold medal became a humbling experience for him, because he knows what it’s like to finish at other end of the spectrum.
“I’ve gotten last at the Olympics in 2002,” said Anderson. “I don’t know if you’ve ever had that feeling, but it’s pretty bad. You know inside of you that you have it. I’ve been last and I’ve been first eight years apart. In 2010, I was humbled through the whole journey and accepted it for a personal success as accomplishing the goal I set out to do.”
His time in Vancouver still fuels him to this day, claiming he’s never been prouder to be a Canadian and there could not have been a better Olympic venue.
“It doesn’t get any better than winning at your home Games,” said Anderson. “I don’t think there will be a Games as great as Vancouver. Even if I win at Sochi with all the blood, sweat and tears, there is still no way it will be as sweet as Vancouver. You can’t beat it. It was such a beautiful Games. The city was so alive and it’s something you can’t repeat. I feel fortunate to have lived that. Very few people get to win a gold medal and I’m one of the lucky ones. Now I work harder and set new goals.”
Among his new goals will be preparing himself for new challenges in Sochi and defending his title. Anderson believes everything from his equipment to his body will be ready for 2014.
As he’s aged he has shifted his mentality on how and when he should train. With his equipment under control and nearly where he wants it to be, he can begin to reinvest himself and do the little things like consistently hitting the gym and refining his technique.
“I’m not expected to win the next Olympics,” said Anderson. “But I’m going to do all the work I’ve set out to do and control my environment. A true athlete thrives on adversity and you want to be a true athlete through this. I’ll be ready for 2014. I can bet against myself and still win a race. The gold medal in 2010 represents self accomplishments. I saw what I was made of.”
It is now time for the world and for Anderson to see what he is made of on the Olympic stage for what would be his fifth appearance as a member of the Canadian Olympic Team.
Don’t expect the veteran to ever lose sight of what that moment will mean to him or to the sport.
“The Olympic Games can never get old,” said Anderson. “It’s such an experience and so big for us every four years. Football players have their Super Bowl every year. Hockey player have the Stanley Cup, but for snowboarding the Olympics are another level of living. It’s the world celebrating sport.”
– George Fadel