IN THE five years leading to the Vancouver Olympics, Jasey-Jay Anderson hopes Canadian snowboarding takes off -- with him along for the ride. Though he would be 34 in 2010, and is planning big things at the Turin Olympics next year, he hopes he wouldn't lose his place as Canadian champion with the Games in his own country. But he knows a lot of young turks would be chasing him in events such as parallel slalom, parallel giant slalom and border crossing.
"It would be nice to compete in Canada, but if I don't have a chance, I wouldn't just be hanging around for the Games," Anderson said yesterday in a publicity swing through Toronto before the Nokia world championships in Whistler, B.C., beginning Jan. 15.
"Skiers have won world championships (at 34) and I have no question my body could handle it. It will be where my mind is at that point. We (partner Manon Morin) are expecting our first baby in May. If it wasn't for her support, I wouldn't have made it where I have, but so far she's keen on me staying until Vancouver. I could cut back on some races."
Thus far, Anderson has lived the great Canadian outdoor dream. Born in Quebec, less than half an hour's drive "from 15 to 20 ski resorts," his instructor parents were on the slopes dawn to dusk. Jasey-Jay and elder brother Jayme-Jay used the family's home in the Laurentians as a base for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, motorbikes, fishing, hiking and then he eventually joined the nation's first wave of competitive snowboarders. Jayme-Jay left to coach and join the family log cabin construction business, but Jasey-Jay soon mastered all six disciplines of the sport and was racing in Europe and Japan. After retaining his PSL and PGS national titles, he'll be out to win those and the border crossing at Whistler.
"It will be nice to have the public behind me," Anderson said. "This sport is very strong in Europe and when you're over there (in winter) you can watch it on 24-hour television. We don't have that kind of (interest), but that's fine. In five years, I believe there will be a lot of evolution in our sport and in sport in general."
Canada first awoke to international snowboarding success in 1998, when Ross Rebagliati won Olympic gold at Nagano and was temporarily stripped of his medal after testing positive for traces of marijuana. Images of flying snowboarders were soon everywhere, particularly in kids' clothing.
"Right now, it's about fashion, not performance," Anderson said, hoping that changes by 2010. "But you tend to do what your friends do. My friends lived next to the mountains so we skied and snowboarded a lot and never really got into hockey. Today, kids are into video games. There's nothing wrong with that, but it has made people into homebodies where sports is a good mental thing -- the body fuels the mind and vice-versa."