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Anderson wins gold at last

After winning every title except an Olympic medal in a 14-year snowboarding career

Jasey-Jay Anderson has been through it all in his career, from so low he considered quitting altogether to the highest high of winning an Olympic gold medal in the snowboard parallel giant slalom last week - at his fourth and final Olympic Games.

Through it all he has been intensely professional, willing to question everything from his equipment to his abilities on his way to the top.

When the Swiss team started to dominate the World Cup alpine snowboard circuit before the 2006 Winter Games, Anderson suspected that it probably had something to do with their revolutionary board designs. He started over with a whole new set-up. Despite his four overall World Cup crystal globes, his four parallel giant slalom titles, his 59 World Cup podiums, his medals at World Championships and pro events, he never once cruised on his abilities.

He struggled for years to make his new equipment work as well as his old gear, going back to the drawing board time and time again after disappointing results, before at last finding his flow - and the podium again - a few seasons ago on the World Cup circuit.

At around that time he also found new motivation on the Canadian team with the rise of racers Matthew Morison and Adam Lambert to medal contenders.

"I just worked, worked, worked to be the best I could be," said Anderson. "A true athlete thrives on adversity, so I tried to be a true a athlete."

When snowboarding made its debut in the 1998 Winter Olympics, Anderson placed 16 th in the parallel slalom - an event won by teammate Ross Rebagliati. He competed again in 2002, where he finished 29 th , something he has acknowledged as a low point in his career.

He competed again in 2006, both in snowboardcross and the parallel slalom, placing fifth and 20 th respectively. He wasn't happy with either result and went back to the drawing board yet again.

In 2008 he made the decision to stop competing in snowboardcross (despite winning the overall title in the sport in 2006) and focus more on racing. No question that it was a tough decision - Anderson truly loves all aspects of snowboarding and has even competed in halfpipe and big air events in the past to keep his freeriding skills sharp. That kind of adaptability was part of the reason he won the overall World Cup snowboarding title for four consecutive years, 2001 to 2004.

Coming into the 2010 Games, 14 seasons into his career, Anderson was ranked third in the parallel slalom standings with four World Cup medals. His wife Manon Morin and two daughters were on the sidelines at Cypress Saturday to watch him go for Olympic gold one last time. They saw him overcome a big deficit after his first run against Austria's Benjamin Karl - 0.76 seconds - to win the second dual and the Olympic gold medal.

Karl rode a little conservatively while Anderson put everything on the line, making up time on the flats to head into the last downhill section almost even with Karl. He dropped the hammer then and managed to make it to the finish line with a combined time more than a third of a second ahead of Karl.

"I'm shocked," he told reporters. "I had so much (time) to make up, and in these conditions it's pretty much impossible."

Mathieu Bozzetto of France won the small final to place third, while Canadians Matthew Morison and Michael Lambert were 11 th and 12 th respectively.

The women's gold medal went to Nicolien Sauerbreij of The Netherlands, followed by Ekaterina Ilyukhina of Russia and Marion Kreiner of Austria. Alexa Loo was the top Canadian, in 12 th place.

Anderson's gold medal was the snowboard team's third in these Olympic Games, with Maëlle Ricker and Mike Robertson earning gold and silver respectively in snowboardcross.

Anderson, who runs a blueberry farm and builds houses with his family during the summer months in rural Quebec, is looking forward to spending more time at home in the future. He will spend time designing alpine snowboard equipment that he says will make the sport more accessible to the public. And he will always ride, but his days of following the white circus are at last over.