Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Snowboarder finds serenity

Anderson earns gold at the end of his arduous 12-year journey

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VANCOUVER -- When Jasey-Jay Anderson finally secured Olympic gold -- in his fourth and final try -- he didn't melt into a puddle of emotional mush. He didn't roar into any TV cameras. He didn't celebrate like he was the next contestant on The Price is Right.

Sure, the 34-year-old snowboarder pumped his fists a little Saturday when he won the parallel giant slalom event at the Vancouver Winter Games, but mostly, he seemed at peace.

"So many Olympics have eluded me, and this one at home, I can't even describe it," said Anderson, a native of Mont-Tremblant, Que., who helped usher snowboarding into the Olympics 12 years ago in Nagano. "There's so much support and so much love and happiness. It's just the perfect moment."

In three previous tries -- Nagano, Salt Lake City and Turin -- Anderson didn't reach the podium.

But on Saturday, he accepted his medal at the bottom of the course. Anderson appeared calm, collected and sophisticated. He grinned and delivered modest waves to a gallery of fans.

"It was almost like I couldn't handle that amount of joy and happiness," he said. "Like, when my kids were born, I had tears and everything. I was still in shock with this one. I think the years of training the emotional block kicked in: 'Oh, I guess I won another race. Good.' "

He laughed at his own simplification of the matter. Saturday was not just another race. It ensured that history will remember Anderson as one of the greatest snowboard racers ever. He already had the resumé -- 59 World Cup podium finishes, including 26 victories -- but now he has the crown jewel.

Prior to Saturday, the closest Anderson had come to an Olympic podium was a fifth-place finish in snowboard cross four years ago in Turin.

"I wanted to be an example -- to myself, to my kids and to people who supported me -- that I wasn't a quitter," he said. "That even though there's challenges, they're meant to be overcome. They aren't meant to be ignored and to defeat you."

In the final, Anderson trailed Austria's Benjamin Karl by 76 one-hundredths of a second after the first of two runs. Racers switch courses for the second run. Anderson made the most of the change, covering the course a full second faster than in Round 1.

"I had the better course and my style of riding requires a better course," he said. "When it's rough, I always get those mistakes in there and they break up the momentum. That's usually where I get my time, is through momentum, so that blue course (from the first run) was just hell for me -- especially up top."

After the medal ceremony, Anderson scooped up his daughters -- Jora, 4, and Jy, 3 -- to pose for a photo. Anderson said that his kids kept him grounded through disappointments.

"In the end, I just tried to simplify and look at the banality of it, which is, there are way more important things than a race in life," he said.

"My daughters were waiting for me here. They're healthy and happy and that's what counts. If I am lucky enough to have a beautiful race like this, then it's just a good day at the office."

-- Canwest News Service

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 28, 2010 A22

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