Anderson sisters: First sibling double gold
Twenty Years, 20 Firsts celebrates the 20-year legacy of the X Games in action sports with a collection of 20 of the most iconic first-trick moments in X Games history. Between March and X Games Austin (June 5-8), XGames.com will roll out the top 20 firsts, including moments such as Travis Pastrana's groundbreaking double backflip and Shaun White's perfect SuperPipe score, and the stories behind them. Fans will be able to vote for their favorite moment starting on Thursday, May 8.
Many siblings have a special bond. Growing up together they often share passions and memories. But few siblings compete on an elite-level international stage with each other. Even fewer win those competitions together. And when it comes to the X Games, there is only one instance when two siblings won gold medals in different disciplines in the same year.
That honor belongs to 2014 Olympic Slopestyle gold medalist Jamie Anderson and her sister, Joanie, who took first place in Snowboard Slopestyle and Snowboarder X, respectively, at X Games Aspen 2007.
Jamie, Joanie and their six other siblings (four sisters and two brothers) grew up in South Lake Tahoe, California. Their parents chose to home-school them all, which allowed them to snowboard at their local resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe, as much as possible in the winter. Both girls, along with their sister Stacie, were drawn to standing sideways, and proved to be naturals.
"We were constantly challenging and pushing each other at home and on the mountain," says Joanie. "I think it's where we all got our competitive drive. Stacie, Jamie and I grew up on the snowboard team together. If one of us learned a new trick, the other two wouldn't be far behind."
Though they started out competing in all disciplines in the United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA), including halfpipe, Joanie found herself loving the intensity of boardercross, while Jamie began to excel in slopestyle. It wasn't a conscious decision to focus on separate disciplines, they say.
"There has never been any sibling rivalry, just support," says Joanie. "We were never against each other, only with each other."
"I feel so blessed we were able to experience competing and traveling together," says Jamie, who, despite being a post-Olympic mega-celebrity who just this week had dinner at the White House, still remembers her first win fondly. "Joanie was always a huge support of mine growing up. I got into snowboarding trying to tag along with her and Stacie. She's just always had a positive attitude, and has helped me stay humble and truly appreciate everything we were able to do."
Joanie was 21 years old when she took her first and only Snowboarder X gold in 2007 after passing eight-time winner Lindsey Jacobellis, who crashed just before the finish line. It was Jamie's first, as well. She was 16, the youngest female ever to win an X Games Slopestyle competition.
"The entire family was in Aspen to support us, so it was a huge celebration," says Joanie. "We won within moments of each other. Our family was literally running back and forth between the slopestyle and boardercross courses to watch us. Jamie won first, then the family ran over to the boardercross venue just in time to watch me win.
"I had no idea that Jamie had just gotten gold until my mom jumped the fence and ran over to me to congratulate me and tell me. It was surreal and such an incredible moment!"
Joanie went on to win one more X Games medal, a bronze in 2010, and then hung her boardercross hat up after X Games Aspen 2011. She considers the 2007 win the most memorable highlight of her and Jamie's shared careers.
Jamie has since gone on to become one of the best female slopestyle competitors in the world. The gold she won in Sochi when snowboard slopestyle made its Olympic debut was just one of many first-place crowns she has to her credit. Besides her eight X Games Aspen Slopestyle medals, four of which are gold, she's won countless Dew Tour and Burton Open competitions, and has taken the TTR World Snowboard Tour overall title twice.
Joanie believes the special bond they built as professional athletes continues to help them understand one another.
"In Sochi, Jamie had a rough practice run and the family could tell she was dealing with some heavy emotions," says Joanie. "Everyone was like, 'Joanie, go down there. Jamie needs you!' That was a special moment."
While seven years since their double win have come and gone, the sisters remain close, continuing to call South Lake Tahoe home and being a part of each other's lives regularly.
"We inspire each other to go to yoga more often, eat healthy, work out, and follow our dreams and passions," says Jamie.
While some sisters recall playing, riding bikes and going on family trips together, the Anderson sisters have an X Games memory that only they can claim. And that's pretty special.