PARK CITY, Utah -- Jamie Anderson knew what she had to do. The two-time slopestyle snowboarding Olympic champion considered dropping out of the FIS Snowboard, Freestyle Ski and Freeski World Championships but realized she could use the event for a greater good and get out a message near and dear to her heart.
Anderson did that in a big way, taking home the bronze in slopestyle at the first FIS world championships contest of her career. An hour after it was slated to begin, Sunday’s scheduled final was canceled due to high winds on the course and medals were instead awarded based on Saturday’s qualification results. Kiwi Zoi Sadowski Synnott won gold with a score of 91.75 and Norway’s Silje Norendal took silver with an 88.75, both earned on their first runs, while Anderson’s second-run score of 87.25 was good for bronze.
“Yesterday I did treat qualification like a final,” Anderson said. “I really wanted to put down my best run and I went for it and unfortunately fell on my first run on the bottom jump, and on my second run I had a little bit of a sketch on the rail, so I was surprised to even be in third, but I was really stoked on the medal and I’m thankful to get bronze.”
And Anderson’s message?
“I decided to use this event to speak up for our global community of snowboarders and to shine a light on how important our environment is, especially as snow athletes.”
The South Lake Tahoe, California, native was ready to boycott the contest after the International Ski Federation (FIS) president Gian-Franco Kasper gave a recent interview to Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger in which he referred to “so-called” climate change and praised dictatorships.
He later apologized for the remarks, saying they were not meant to be taken literally. Protect Our Winters (or POW), the leading climate advocacy group for the winter sports community, published an open letter Friday calling for the resignation of Kasper, saying “The snowsports community demands climate action, and we will not tolerate those who dismiss science to remain in positions of leadership.”
Anderson has been an advocate for POW, which was founded by professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones in 2007, for nearly a decade.
The 29-year-old snowboarding legend, who has a women’s record 17 X Games medals and does not plan on slowing down anytime soon, is eager to use any chance she has to speak out about climate change and the impact everyone’s actions have on the environment. She also plans to donate her earnings to POW in another effort to help with their work.
“Did it for POW today… It breaks my heart that someone in leadership of such a big foundation is being immature about a real scientific problem that has been affecting all of our lives all over the world,” Anderson said. “I love our planet, I love nature, and I love being able to ski and snowboard all over the world. I hope there is a little bit of change and I hope people can be mindful of how precious our natural resources are.”
Having competed at the elite snowboarding level for the past 15 years, Anderson knows better than most how weather affects her sport. Just this week the big air snowboarding contest – an event that earned Anderson Olympic silver last year – at worlds was canceled altogether for both men and women due to weather. When the slopestyle snowboarding finals were canceled, Anderson had mixed emotions.
“I was on the podium, but I still wanted a chance to ride better,” she explained. “There was definitely some gusty winds. I think they made the best call for the safety of everyone, but I really wanted to ride because I’m a competitor. I wanted to get on top of that podium, but I’m really happy to take home third, and really proud of Zoi. She put down a great run yesterday and so did Silje. Did my best and bless the rest!”
Anderson cites some of the countries she frequents for competitions – including New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland – as ones who are game-changers when it comes to protecting the environment.
“They’re really leading the way of stepping up their game with recycling and cleaning trash and doing good things that make a difference, and I think all of us have that power to make choices with the brands we support, with the groceries we buy, with supporting organic farmers and really believing in the brands that want to make that shift happen because things are getting crazy now,” Anderson said.
“I believe there’s a bright future if we collectively come together to make positive choices every day.”