The Jed Anderson Interview
Words: Joel Muzzey
Photos: Andy Wright
At an early age, this Canadian kid was almost eaten by the snowboarding machine. On the verge of premature teenage burnout, Jed fled the scene. It was a move that saved him. Back home in Calgary, Jed tapped into the unlimited possibilities of the streets and found his fire again. Raw talent and convincing footage made his return to the game both swift and inevitable. He has since become one of snowboarding's most influential young riders. And he's doing it his way.
You started riding at six years old and by 10 you were on Forum. Did you instantly know snowboarding was your thing--that you could take it somewhere?
I didn't even think about that shit. It was just kind of happening. When you're young you're not thinking, "I want to be a pro snowboarder." It was just something that I was doing. And it was kind of this snowball effect--I'm getting free stuff, I'm going on trips, and it all seemed normal because I was young. Basically what happened when I was riding for Forum and getting into competing more, the more pro side of snowboarding, that wasn't the right fit for me in the end. I wasn't happy at Forum. I didn't want it to be like that. I was like, "I don't want to be a pro snowboarder," so I quit and started snowboarding with my friends.
Was it also the pressure of competing? You were groomed to be a little pipe star.
I think that was part of it. When you're a kid you're just going to contests--pipe or whatever, and it's awesome. Then when you get a little older you start noticing other things going on. Different ways you can progress, different ways you can go. When I was on Forum they were trying to make me do all this shit I didn't want to do. Like I was supposed to be this weirdo pipe rider, and they sent me all this crazy clothing to wear, like pink digital camo. I was like, "I'm not f--king wearing this." They wanted me to do so many pipe contests; it got to the point where I was like, "No." When you get to be like 14, 15, you start to realize a little more what kind of person you want to be, what style of stuff you're into. So when that shit was happening with Forum it was around the time when Love/Hate came out. I saw it and really got interested in that side of things. I had never seen anything like it. It pretty much engulfed me, I was like, "F--k, that is what I want to do. That movie pretty much made me the snowboarder I am today. There are other factors obviously, like my family and my brother, but the style I'm into, it was all because of Love/Hate. It was this artsy movie with different music, I didn't even think there were people out there doing stuff like that. I remember watching Darrell Mathes' part over and over and over. I wanted to learn noseslide pretzels, so I'd go to the park and listen to his song and do that trick.
I don't think a lot of people realize you already have a decade in the game.
I've been snowboarding a long-ass time and I'm still having fun doing it. Obviously I look at it a lot differently than when I was a kid. I think it's coming full circle. There were definitely a few years when I thought, "This shit is pretty lame." I remember the phone call when I was like, "This is it, I guess I'm quitting everything." It sucked. At the time I didn't know if it was the right thing to do, but I look back now and see that it was the best thing I could have done. After that I started to have a lot more fun snowboarding.
But that was it. You were done with sponsorship.
Yeah, so then when I was 14, 15, 16, I was just filming with my friends at home. I had quit every sponsor, but I was back to being able to do anything I wanted. And all I wanted was to go film on handrails. I was riding COP [Canada Olympic Park] on the weeknights with my friends, then on weekends we'd go on little missions around Calgary hitting rails and stuff. Just having fun.
A lot of kids see sponsorship in snowboarding as the ultimate. How did you just walk away?
Trust me, it was definitely hard. I was a spoiled kid. I got free shit my whole life. I didn't even know--would I have to go buy a snowboard? It was like, "No more boxes are coming to my house." But the further along it went and the further along I got, I knew it was for the best.
So then you started posting your own videos online.
Yeah, I didn't have anyone to film for, so I was like, "I'll make an online video part." This was about the time web videos started blowing up. Sunday In The Park was a really big thing to me then. I think it was the first time the Internet was being used that way for snowboarding. So that's sort of how I got back into filming. Then the next year I also got some shots in the TransWorld video, which really brought me back into it.
When your street stuff started coming out your stance got a lot of attention. How did it get so skinny?
I used to have a crazy wide stance. I would T-bolt my boards and stuff. My knees killed and people would be like, "You look like a retard," but I was so stubborn, I was like, "F--k you, this is what I like." Then the reason I initially brought it in was because this kid Tyler Verigan had such a small stance. I remember watching him ride and it looked so f--king cool. So I did it. Then I realized it made certain tricks a lot easier. It was just more fun. My shit isn't even that narrow. I ride pretty square, just like 19 or 20 inches. It's a little different every time I set up a board.
And now you have a lot of clones out there. Does that weird you out?
It's cool. I don't really care. If anything I'm flattered. It is funny though, like I see some kid with a Krooked skateboarding sticker on their board in the same spot and wearing the same gear as me. But I f--kin' did the same shit. I actually still do--just trying to look like people who I think look cool.
When you're not actually riding you sort of step away from snowboarding.
Yeah, I think it helps so much to get away from it. When I'm at home with my friends, I never even talk about snowboarding. Most of my friends don't know anything about it. Nobody knows shit. Going away from it makes me more motivated when I go back to it. It's something I haven't done or been around or talked about, so I'm more excited to do it.
Is snowboarding ever a bummer?
Riding never is, but there's a lot of stuff in snowboarding that's super lame and that I don't agree with. Luckily enough the people I'm around and the people I'm sponsored by let me do my own thing even if it kind of goes against the grain. I never want to be doing this to get ahead. I'm not trying to climb some ladder, you know? I just want to enjoy doing what I do. There are probably things I could've done to get me further ahead, but I might not be as happy now.
What's "super lame" in snowboarding?
I'm not going to say names, but there are a lot of people who put themselves on a crazy pedestal, above other people. I don't agree with that shit. Just like the way some of the elders in snowboarding demand respect when they already have it. I can refer to skating--look at someone like Andrew Reynolds. He supports skating and he's a humble dude, so people show him respect because he deserves it. I feel like a lot of people in snowboarding are just insecure or something and they demand this crazy respect that's already in place. And they do lame shit that just makes them look ridiculous. Rather than embracing the new generation, they're trying to be like, "We're still the best, show some respect; pay your dues." People already know you're a legend, you don't have to be weird about it.
Have you dealt with this firsthand?
I've never had to deal with it, but I read about it, see it in videos. It kind of makes me cringe, gives me some secondhand embarrassment.
How many street parts do you think you can put out? What comes next?
I think about that. Maybe I will get into powder. You know backcountry and big-mountain snowboarding isn't too different from snowboarding in the street. You go to a mountain, they're all different. You go to a city, they're all different. Different shit to hit. There's always new shit to do, it's just figuring out what that is. There's still so much potential in the street: new ways to see it and portray it. That's what I get psyched on. Even working with new filmers and doing something different. There's so much creatively still to be done.
So you're not buying a sled and moving to Whistler anytime soon?
No. Someday I might try to film in the backcountry, but I'm never gonna have a truck and a sled and live in Whistler. You can quote me on that. It's never gonna happen.
What about a halfpipe comeback? Could you put together a run?
I don't think so [laughs]. I still love riding halfpipe--it's so sweet--but the people running halfpipe competition, like FIS, they're a bunch of f--king kooks. I don't have any interest in dealing with that shit. Riding halfpipes is so fun, but the competition side of it is insane to me: coaches yelling at the kids and waxing their board for every run. The kids aren't having fun at all. It's f--ked. It's just been completely ruined. I couldn't be around that anymore.
It kinds of makes you feel bad that snowboarding has gotten to that point.
Yeah, totally. It's so weird to me how that has happened. Another ironic thing is that my family actually runs a coaching program called Riders On Board. It's different than a traditional snowboarding program. It's not about yelling at the kids or pushing them to do shit they don't want to do. It's about having fun-- more like a mentoring program. I think it's great. It also gives me the opportunity to get out and ride with local kids. There are a lot of young people coming up in snowboarding who aren't into competing. Some kids enjoy it, they have that competitive nature and I'm not hating on that.
But say you were hating on it. Do you feel it's risky for you or other pro riders to criticize something going on in snowboarding? Isn't that the big taboo?
Yeah, for sure. I know exactly what you're saying. I don't really care. I'll say what I think. A lot of snowboarders are pussies. Like, everybody has to be friends with everyone else; everyone has to agree on everything. That's one thing in snowboarding that's completely different than every other part of my life. In snowboarding nobody wants to have confrontation in any way. Even when I know something is bothering somebody, no one ever says anything about it. People get away with a lot of shit that they shouldn't, at least in my eyes.
Do you have any other wisdom to share with kids out there?
Well, yeah. We're just normal-ass dudes. Just like normal people. I want kids to know that they can do this shit, too. It's just putting the work in. I did kind of start fresh, and I wasn't that good at rails. A lot of kids come up to me and ask me, "How did you get to where you're at?" Here's my answer: Pretty much, just go snowboarding. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but just be yourself. Don't try to impress people or feel forced to go jump down something that you don't want to jump down. Don't focus on sponsorship. If it's gonna happen, it'll just happen.
Kids think these snowboarders are just so different from them. Every one of my friends that's a pro snowboarder, they're all exactly the same as you. Some kid got my number and phoned me yesterday, like, "Hello, is this Jed?" I'm like, "Yeah, what's up?" He was like, "I can believe it's really you. That's so sweet that you like, talk." I was like, "What do you mean?" I'm a normal-ass kid. When I'm home I hang out with my friends, I go skateboarding, go to the river to swim. But I used to be the same way. I remember meeting Mikey LeBlanc and tripping out. Or perfect example, when I first met Laurent [LNP], I couldn't even believe that I was snowboarding with him. I was fully starstruck. We went to Subway the first day I met him and I asked him--so creepily, so awkwardly--like, "Are those the pants you were wearing in Bandwagon?" And he was just like, "What?" Then I was like, "Nothing, nothing. Don't worry about it." I was just thinking, "I'm stupid, I'm stupid, why would I ask that?" I know him now and he's so normal, but then I thought of him as this higher guy. When you look up to people so much then see them in person, it's just a trip.
Even though I'm talking about this and I think kids shouldn't be scared or feel awkward to come say what's up, last night I saw Gigi [Rüf] and I was thinking, "Damn this is pretty cool." So I'm still kind of that kid, fully a fan of snowboarding.