Jamie Anderson in only a smile
This is an online exclusive story from ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue 2014. Subscribe today!
My favorite part? I don't know, maybe my freakin' booty! (Laughs)
It was definitely a different upbringing than your average family. My mom and dad decided to homeschool us -- I'm one of eight -- because they really wanted us to be outside and learn some other fundamentals instead of it being school all day in a classroom. Now that I look back on it, I have so much gratitude for how much time we got to spend just exploring in the backyard and eventually getting into snowboarding.
Of course at the Olympics everyone has like five coaches. I'm the only one doing my own thing. At that moment I'm like, "Maybe I do want a coach?" I did have a coach when I was a kid, but when I was about 14 or 15 I just kind of outgrew it. I just wanted to ride with everyone whenever I wanted and not have any expectations or pressure, just follow my own intuition.
I'd rather be inspired by my competition than be jealous. I'm trying to approach it in a different way, where I'm inspired that they're doing a double cork even though I'm scared as hell to do it. Then it makes me feel that maybe I can do it. Maybe not right now, but maybe someday.
It brings out a lot of ego. That's the thing that's not totally healthy about competitive snowboarding. It's such a free kind of soul sport. That's why most people do it -- just to get out there. You don't want to see someone winning who is really cocky and full of themselves. That's something I value -- even though I've won a lot of events, I know I'm not the best in the world.
Essential oils, that's what I had on the mountain at the Olympics. I had my backpack, but it was my water, essential oils, crystals, because I was freaking out and I really believe in healing with nature's medicine: yoga, meditation, reading a lot, burning sage and incense -- I do that pretty regularly, though. It really helped.
If we're freaking out right before a contest, we like to go to the trees. That started at the X Games because one of my really good friends -- Kjersti Buaas from Norway -- and I would often go to the trees and take a moment to just do an "Ommm" [laughs]. Because we love them! We were holding hands and doing an "Ommm" around a tree, and from the back it looked like I was hugging a tree, which I wasn't. But that's certainly not something I'm afraid to do.
You have to do your own thing. If people are inspired, that's awesome. If people want to judge you, then that's just not any of my business. It's all good either way.
I ruptured my spleen like five years ago. Seeing the body heal itself and come back from injuries is something that just makes me value my body and health even more. I love everything about it.
That was crazy. When I ruptured my spleen, I was about to win the overall Series for the World Tour, and I was at the last event in Vermont for the U.S. Open and was having a great day. Then I just got a little too excited and just face-planted, and I knew something was wrong. I really couldn't breathe, and my whole body was in so much pain. So they ended up rushing me to the emergency room. And I had never even taken Vicodin, so when they told me in the ambulance: "Do you want some painkillers? Do you want Morphine?" I was like, "No way!" I'm like, "Isn't that equivalent to heroin?" And they all are laughing, and I ended up actually doing it because I had to, it was so gnarly. And then, instantly, no pain. It made me realize how and why so many people get addicted to pharmaceutical drugs.
Amazingly, they didn't remove my spleen. Your organs heal themselves. I'm telling you, the body is just so crazy.
My yoga has saved me through a lot of bad crashes. Even flat landings that most people wouldn't land, I somehow have been able to land from all the work in yoga. When I'm snowboarding, I just feel stronger and more flexible and more able to trust my instincts -- because there are times when you really do have to be mindful with the jumps you're hitting and the conditions that you're riding in. Something I really value is slowing down and maybe not hitting every jump as fast as all my competitors.
I love the inversions. I love all the different kinds -- forearm stands, headstands, handstands and just being able to really find that balance totally inverted with different poses.
My calmness. That's one thing I notice when I watch myself ride in a review of a competition. Some of the other girls I ride with sometimes look a little crazy; they sweep their arms. Those are things I remember learning when I was 12 years old -- my coach making me ride with my hands on my hips because you tend to fly your hands all over the place.
I feel the best when everyone lands an epic run. I have friends who come over to me right before they compete and give me a hug and try to rub off some of my energy. And I love that, that's what I'm there for. I'm not the type of competitor who wants to not see everyone do well.
My favorite part? I don't know, maybe my freakin' booty!”
I started snowboarding in Lake Tahoe when I was 9. My sisters were already on the competitive team, so I kind of just followed their footsteps and started doing small events. Then I started making a little bit of money from the competitions, and I was really stoked because I was always working as a young kid selling golf balls or working for my mom mowing lawns. So when I was a teenager and I started making money in snowboarding, I was like, "Whoa, I didn't even know this was really something you can do." It was kind of like a win-win situation.
I love slacklining. I got into it probably two or three years ago. It's like tight-rope walking. Some people do it at crazy heights -- did you see that one in Yosemite? -- so it's like that but at earth level, so it's OK. I remember the first time I tried I couldn't even stand on it. And that's what kind of drove me to buy one and practice. It's so cool how capable we are of anything we really work on.
I am always going through different stuff depending on where the moon is. The winter is a total yin time of year where you're supposed to be a little more gentle. Then the summer comes and I definitely feel more energy. Same throughout the moon cycle: When there is a full moon there's a lot more energy, whereas when it's a brand-new moon the animals are a lot more quiet, you feel a little more yin energy. It's just so cool, because I didn't always know all of this. It's interesting to me learning to live in harmony with all of the seasons.
What you say and what you believe will happen. I'm a huge believer in the law of attraction and affirmations. Even if you aren't in the best shape, you should still feel and act like you are.
That was freakin' awesome! I am still blown away when I look at a 13-year-old and realize how little I must have looked back then [at the 2004 winter X Games]. But of course when you're 13 you feel like you're an adult, you think you're 20 just kicking it. At least I did. But it was so cool and I was so starstruck by everyone. I just kicked it. I was definitely a little firecracker.
I don't think I'm your typical rock-hard ripped girl. But that's what I love and embrace about myself. I feel good, but I always feel like I can be better. That's what I thrive on.