Five things you didn’t know about Jasey-Jay Anderson 

Four-time World Cup title winner sets sites on Worlds at Whistler

For the past four seasons Mont Tremblant’s Jasey-Jay Anderson has won the overall World Cup title with solid results in both alpine and snowboardcross events. Although he’s been a slow starter in recent years, picking up momentum as the seasons wore on, this season he’s already on top of both the snowboardcross and overall World Cup rankings. He has two gold medals in snowboardcross, two bronze medals in parallel giant slalom, and, since October, has not finished outside of the top-10.

When Whistler hosts the FIS Snowboard World Championships Jan. 15-23, Jasey-Jay will be competing in both alpine events as well as the snowboardcross, and is easily one of the favourites in all three contests.

When asked why his snowboarding is so strong this season, even with the rest of the world working hard to catch up, Jasey-Jay didn’t have an explanation.

"I think it’s maturity or maybe my experience is catching up with me. Something happened," said Anderson.

"I couldn’t pinpoint what’s different, I’m not doing anything dramatically different. I had good training this summer, but nothing out of the ordinary. The only way I can explain it is experience."

Things are about to change dramatically for the 29 year old when he receives a new racing board this week. His board manufacturer, Toronto-based Coiler Snowboards, has had to practically reinvent the wheel to build a new type of board that the Swiss riders are already using that is similar in design to a ski. The company has been working through Christmas to get Anderson’s new boards ready, something Anderson appreciates.

"At Christmas, when everybody wants to be home with their families, I’d guess (my board builder) spent about 50 hours in the shop working overtime to be able to get the boards to me for the world championships. That’s just unbelievable."

Anderson will only get about three days of practising on the new board before the world championships, and admits that he probably won’t have mastered the new design by those events. Still, he says it’s the only way to be competitive with the Swiss riders in the Alpine events.

"I feel good in the alpine events, but this is going to be a huge change for me. It’s a change that’s probably more than overdue, but everyone is going to have to make an adjustment. Anytime you’re up against a Swiss in the final (rounds) you’re going to get annihilated, even if you do everything perfectly. It’s that big a difference.

"I’m really excited for the world championships. I’ve been getting good results in every discipline, and I’m hoping to be able to do the same in Whistler, provided I can get used to (the new board) in time.

"Three days on equipment this different is not enough, but I’ll make do. Having experience will help."

Although the world championships only happen every two years and are one of the rare events when all of the World Cup disciplines are held together at one venue, Anderson said he doesn’t feel any pressure. The only difference between a world championship and a World Cup is the way athletes are treated during the event, and the fact that there’s no prize money up for grabs – just serious bragging rights.

"It’s a mini Olympics, the conditions are always perfect, and everyone is a little more excited, but there’s no money and no points, so there’s no pressure in that aspect. You want to do well for your country and your sponsors, so you go out and do the best you can, but at the end it still has to be fun for us," said Anderson.

"Every time I start putting pressure on myself, I have to remind myself to have fun. I’ve had a lot of good years so far, and a good start this year, but as long as I don’t totally choke in my mind I always do well. I’m 29, and I won my first World Cup when I was 18, so I’ve been doing this for a while.

"I still really look forward to race days, because you know someone spent a lot of time getting the course ready just for you, and the conditions are as good as they can be, and all you have to do is put your head down and race."

Anderson is well-supported at this stage in his career, with sponsorships from Nokia, Carrera, Columbia Sportswear, Mont Tremblant and Coiler Snowboards, among others. Nokia, which is also one of the main World Championship sponsors, is his headline sponsor, and even organized a contest during the World championships where the first of five finalists to find Jasey-Jay through a series of Instant Messaging clues will earn $10,000.

He’s also well-supported by the Canadian Snowboard Federation, which he says is doing the best job it can with limited funding.

"I’m getting great support, although it’s all relative to the sport and where the sport is at. If we’re looking to have a budget of $2 million or $3 million a year like skiing, we’re dreaming," said Anderson. "(The CSF) doesn’t have enough people in the office to even organize one World Cup, and they’re doing everything, running the team, the events, the sponsors. They’re overworked, but they’re doing a good job supporting us. We’ve got the quality we need in the people, now we need some quantity there.

"We haven’t gotten to the level yet of other sports where athletes can ignore all the little extra exterior pressures of money that affect their performances, but getting to that level will be nice. It probably won’t happen in my career, but it will be a good thing when it does.

"It’s still a new sport, there have only been World Cup events for 10 years, and there are a lot of sports to compete with.

"Right now the industry is more focused on style than performance, although that’s changing with the Olympics."

Anderson hasn’t put too much thought into when he’d like to retire, and likely won’t even consider it until after the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

"Also 2010 is a huge carrot for me. I’d love to compete in the Olympics in my own country," he said. "There are other things to consider. I have another child coming in May, and I’d like to spend some time at home. Travelling is really what kills me – one day I’ll step off a plane and say that’s it, that’s why I’ll stop. I love being in Europe but I hate travelling there.

"One day I’d also like to just get a good day of freeriding at Whistler, instead of showing up there to race and getting back on the road. Or go to Europe, because you’re never in one place long enough to appreciate it. I’d like to get more freeriding in – if you don’t mix it up, do different sports, I think that’s when you get burned out. You need to step away from what you do sometimes, get in a good day of freeriding or a good day of mountain biking, because you appreciate it when you get back to it.

"I’ve been doing this for long enough that I don’t need as much on-snow training, I spend my summers riding my mountain bike and in the gym working on my fitness. You can’t go riding 365 days of the year."

When Anderson retires, he says he will probably take a few years off, but knows he won’t be able to stay away for long. One day he can see himself coaching at the grassroots level, passing his experience along to the next generation of snowboarders. One day he could even see himself coaching the national team, although it will probably mean a lot more travelling and more time away from home.

Retiring won’t be easy, he says.

"Snowboarding will always be fun for me. I’ve been doing it long enough, and that’s plenty of time where the fun could have been taken out of it me. In a few of my tough years I had to find ways to make it fun, but right now I’m enjoying it as much as I ever have.

"I’m also getting great support from my family and friends and sponsors. When you’re out there busting your ass and nobody is supporting, it’s going to be uphill all the way."

This season Anderson says he doesn’t have any goals, but with the overall World Cup and snowboardcross leads this early in the season he says he will probably go for his fifth overall title and possibly his third career snowboardcross title.

"I always start the season saying I’m going to go out and have an easy season because I’m tired from last year, but then I end up ahead in the points, so I decided I’ll go for it. Right now I’ll just focus on the World championships and staying on track for the Olympics next year. And keeping my sponsors happy. That’s it."

SIDEBAR: Five things you didn’t know Jasey-Jay Anderson

1. Jasey-Jay was named after a character in one of Louis L’Amour’s wild west novels. His father, a log cabin home builder, was a fan of the genre. His older brother is Jayme-Jay, his father is Jay, and his uncles are Jeb, Jeff and Joel. He also has cousins named Jason, Jana, Justice and Jesse James.

2. During his summers, Jasey-Jay Anderson tends a blueberry farm he started two years ago, something he hopes to spend more time on when he retires. When he retires from snowboarding, his goal is to spend his winters coaching and his summers farming.

3. Although he’s best known as a racer and snowboardcross athlete, Anderson has competed in World Cup halfpipe and big air events in the past if there was an open quota spot for a Canadian. He hasn’t entered a freestyle event in three years, but admits that he still rides the park from time to time.

4. When he isn’t snowboarding, Anderson sometimes breaks out the skis. He’s not competing on planks just yet but does have a sponsorship from Fischer Skis. He also has a mountain bike sponsor, which is one of his favourite hobbies. "I have a trail right outside my house," he says. His other winter sports include cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, while his other favourite summer sports include running and kayaking. He also likes to paint and has a degree in fine arts.

5. Jasey-Jay is not into the party lifestyle of the snowboarding industry. He doesn’t drink much or party, preferring to spend his spare time at home or working on projects. "I was in bed on New Year’s at 12:01 – that was the first time I was even up for it in the last four years," he said. "You have to pace yourself in this sport, that’s what’s going to keep me going for 2010."

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