When you work at a magazine, your trade is in words … but sometimes even we don’t know what to say. TransWorld wanted to do a special piece in memory of Jeff Anderson, something that encapsulated the alluring quality of his life, which was both brilliantly unique and simply human. Jeff had a major impact on the world, and snowboarding is more honest and fun because of him. Not sure how to pay tribute to all this, we went to his brother and best friend Billy. On an unmade bed in Billy’s Laguna Beach apartment, we sifted through what he called “my mom’s prize possessions”-old photos with ragged edges, handwritten letters, newspaper clippings. Billy leaned over and told us the stories behind everything-23 years of moments in a lifetime. Over the next six pages, we’ve done our best to bring that exact experience to you.
By Billy Anderson
1979: Jeff Anderson comes into the world on November 2, 1979 in Mammoth Lakes, California. The ground is dry when my mom goes into the hospital-the next day there’s three feet of new snow.
1979: The family has a Halloween party for Jeff’s first birthday, and we both dress up as Superman.
1982: His first ski race is in March of ’82. He’s three and a half years old and doesn’t miss a gate.
1984: The first time Jeff steps on any kind of board is in August of ’84-and believe it or not, it’s a surfboard. Jeff didn’t even know how to swim at the time, but he didn’t care-he had to be out there.
1985: Jeff starts school in September at the age of four. Mom says, “He was a terror.”
1985: Christmas of ’85 is when Jeff receives his first skateboard-he’s five years old.
1988: In third grade, Jeff snowboards for the first time at June Mountain-the only day that season-with friend Brain, Mikey, and me.
1989: Stormriders Snowboard Shop opens just down the street from our house. This is when Jeff truly finds snowboarding. When we first start hanging around there we don’t even know how to ride, but that’s all we want to do. We pedal our bikes down to Stormriders every day for the next five years.
1989: Jeff shoots his first action photos with Debbie Ellis. Debbie’s daughter, Cheyenne (who was our friend growing up), went on to shoot the opener for Jeff’s interview in TransWorld.
1989: Tom Sims approaches Jeff and offers him a sponsorship, but Tom never calls him back.
1989: Jeff receives his first sponsorship-it’s from Volcom. He then goes on to get his first board sponsor, Lamar, and films his first video part in Lamar’s Fakie This. In the spring, Jeff goes to his first Nationals at Timberline, Oregon. He finished third in the halfpipe.
1991: Jeff meets Yale Miller who will be Jeff’s best friend for the rest of his life.
1993: He travels to Bend, Oregon for a Pro Snowboard Tour of America event-his first road trip with the Lamar team. This turns out to be a tough trip for Jeff. He comes home from dinner one night to find his snow magazines ripped to shreds, and Sean Johnson and Mike Ranquet are drunk and pouring beer on him from the loft. That winter he also films for Volcom’s Alive We Ride. The two of us then take our first solo road trip to Southern California to see the Alive We Ride premiere.
1993: Jeff signs with Burton, which remains his board sponsor for the next ten years.
1994: Jeff films for Volcom’s The Garden.
1996: Jeff starts traveling internationally with multiple trips to Europe and one of his first trips to Japan. That spring, Jeff wins the June Mountain Nationals and gets 1,000 dollars.
1997: He graduates from Sierra High School in Mammoth and starts reading a ton of science-fiction novels, like the Dune series.
1998: Jeff loses his close friend Jamil Kahn in an avalanche.
1998: He receives his first cover of a major mag-the 1998 TransWorld SNOWboarding Photo Annual.
1998: Jeff fails to mmake the first U.S. Olympic team, and Burton questions why Jeff has been riding so much pipe instead of filming. This kind of throws Jeff into a tailspin about snowboarding.
1998: Jeff is featured in Jump magazine and Teen People, where the headline is “Babe On Board.”
2000: After finishing fourth in the Winter X-Games slopestyle event, Jeff blows out his knee during practice for the halfpipe. During a grueling 28-hour trip home that included missed planes, mechanical problems, and fog, he gets a speeding ticket only miles outside of Mammoth. At the time he also had a broken wrist.
2001: In the fall, Jeff becomes the first person to do a frontside 450 on, 270 out on a rail.
2001: Longtime friend Dave Sypniewski gets hired at Burton-Jeff’s really excited to work with him. Dave is then fired, and Jeff is thrown into another tailspin, making him want to quit snowboarding.
2002: Jeff signs with Mosaic Management, and Sue Izzo becomes his agent. Sue is there for Jeff at any time-day or night. I think she was more a psychologist that a sports agent.
2002: Burton Team Manager Blotto steps up and helps Jeff work on his Happy Hour part and get enough photos to earn his first TransWorld interview.
2002: Jeff is back in Japan, where we compete in one of our last contests together at the Volcom Slopestyle. He wins the rail best-trick award.
2003: Jeff starts out having a great year. He lives in Mammoth for the preseason and then moves to Salt Lake City and commits full-time to film his movie part for Kingpin’s Back In Black.
2003: On February 18, Jeff is battered and bruised from filming but is ready to make one last strong push with a filming trip around the world along with teammate and good friend Gigi Rà…f. They are to make stops in Japan, Austria, Vermont for the U.S. Open, Utah, and then back to Mammoth. Jeff tells our mom he’ll be home on April 6.
2003: My little brother dies in an accident on February 23 in Japan. This quickly turns into the worst day of my life. I would like to thank everyone who was there that day helping take care of Jeff and me-Marc Frank Montoya, Romain DeMarchi, Gigi, Bjorn Leines, Jay Twitty, all of the riders who were there, everyone at Volcom Japan, and everyone at Burton Japan. And an extra-special thanks goes to Hoshihiko Katagiri-if you weren’t there, I feel like Jeff and I would still be in Japan.
2003: A service is held at Mammoth on March 1. More that 600 of Jeff’s friends turn out to pay tribute to a fallen hero. A day that I thought might be the worst actually turns out to be the best.
2003: This fall Jeff’s Burton UNINC pro model will hit stores for the upcoming season. Also look for Jeff in Back In Black.