Jeff Anderson. Portrait by Embry Rucker. Half-cab 50-50 Aspen in Feb 2003. Photo: Dean ‘Blotto’ Gray
The Life Of Jeff Anderson
It’s been 10 years since the tragic passing of snowboarder Jeff Anderson and to mark the 10th anniversary of his death the JLA Project hosted the first JLA Banked Slalom at Mammoth Mountain on Saturday, February 23. In honor of Jeffy we present his interview from our Sept 2003 Issue of TransWorld SNOWboarding Magazine soon after his passing.
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.
Jeff Anderson Full Part
Jeff Anderson’s part from Kingpins Back in Black set the bar for progression in snowboarding. After Jeff’s passing in February 2003 his part still lives on today.
Jeff Anderson's Timeline
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 make the first US 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 Ruf. 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.
Jump to Page Two to read Jeffy’s Full Interview ‘Jeff Anderson I Am SNowboarding’
from our Jan 2003 Issue.
Jeff Anderson ‘I Am Snowboarding’ Interview Opener. Photo by Cheyenne Ellis
This Jeff Anderson interview originally appeared in TransWorld Snowboarding Magazine Volume 16, Number 5 in the fall of 2002 (Jan 2003 Issue). Words By Joel Muzzey
Jeff Anderson is snowboarding: True Mammoth local. First-generation grom. Child of the 80s. Skateboarder. Student of life. Malcontent. Devoted friend. Rock 'n' roller. Handrail destroyer. Regular-footer. Younger brother. Late sleeper. Artist. Binding modifier. Mountain man. Autograph signer. Victim of technology. Aerialist. Prodigal son. Huge in Japan. Burton-cut survivor. Happy Hour standout. Brutally honest. Hyperactive. Powder slasher. Board designer. Genuine. Homeowner. Purist. Style-conscious. Skinny. Decent golfer. Stepson. World traveler. Stranger. Mitten wearer. Nocturnal. Underrated. Snowmobiler. Edge de-tuner. Minimalist. Painter. Maniacal. Cereal eater. David Bowie fan. Part hippie. Courteous. Hometown sensation. Frequent flier. Doodler. Enthusiastic. Impatient. Easily distracted. Season-pass holder. Internationally recognized. Down for life. Ready to go.
Were you born into this lifestyle?
My parents were pretty much ski bums, and they moved to the mountains to ski and get away from the city. They both worked here at the Mammoth ski school. Later my dad became a patroller. Since they were both employed by the resort, I had a free pass every year of my life. I started skiing at three years old and don't really remember life without being on the hill. When I was about nine, it got too serious-Billy (brother) and I just wanted to have fun, so we started snowboarding. We rode at June Mountain the first time, and within a year or so, I didn't ski anymore.
At first, I tried to get sponsored by Sims-after riding with me, Tom Sims said he'd put me on the team. He wrote my phone number down on this little piece of paper that probably got crumpled up and lost. He never called me. My first sponsor was actually Bert Lamar when he first started Lamar Snowboards. I was eleven-I remember because he signed me to a seven-year contract, basically until I was eighteen, which is pretty funny to think of now.
I've always been on the snow-always been a snowboarder. It's who I am. The fact that I've been riding and living this life since I was so young has really shaped me. I guess it all starts with my parents-the love of the mountains, and them wanting to raise a family based on that.
I definitely plan on doing other things in my life, but will always ride and have a place in Mammoth. I've learned that you don't need to be part of the rat race. This lifestyle-away from congestion and people and cars-is better for me. I love cities and will probably spend some time in that environment, but not for long. I see myself living quietly in a small town, for sure.
Was there a lot of competition between you and your big brother Billy growing up?
Yeah. We were always super competitive. But more than anything, he took care of me-we were like a team. He handled all the money, all the travel arrangements-he did everything. I couldn't have asked for a better brother.
There are these two photos in my mom's house from the early days. Billy's grabbing roastbeef, and I'm grabbing nose. Back in the day, if you couldn't grab your nose, you weren't really a freestyle-guy. Billy couldn't really grab there, but he raced and was really fast. So Billy was kind of the racer, and even though he was good at freestyle, he kinda let me have it.
So you started traveling for snowboarding as a grom?
I was twelve years old on my first trip-to Mt. Bachelor with Carla Dalpiaz, Brian Harper, and Gilligan Yoder. It was for the PSTA (Pro Snowboard Tour of America) finals. Everyone was there-Steve Graham, Sean Johnson, even Jimi Scott. I was hanging around in the condo wearing (Mike) Ranquet's leather jacket.
Johnson ripped up all my magazines, poured beer on me, and made me cry. I called home to tell my mom, and Billy was making fun of me. That night, when Johnson passed out, I colod all over him with markers and got him back. He chased me down in the morning, but it was all in fun. They destroyed the condo-kiwis splattered on the walls, it was out of hand.
How did you connect with the Volcom guys?
Richard Woolcott and Tucker Hall started Volcom-just punks-kids. They came to Mammoth to ride and went into Storm Riders-the local shop slinging their gear. At first they were going to sponsor Billy, but he got on Quik. I kinda asked, "Can I be on Volcom?" They were like, "Sure."
Some of the Volcom stuff, like the first movie, Alive We Ride ('92), was before we were jumping big jumps-before snowboard parks even. You didn't have to get as gnarly, and it was easy for those guys to come up here from So Cal and film. The Garden ('94) developed from that. It was named after "The Butterfly Garden," which is Sonora Pass. Mike Parillo, Bryan Iguchi, and Todd Hazeltine were the first people to go out there and film. It was the best stuff ever, and that trip was crazy-a two-week deal and Haakonsen was out there for the first week. I ditched school-got busted and grounded, and couldn't go to The Garden with Haakon. I missed out-we didn't even do anything good when we ditched.
Jamie Lynn was there, all the Volcom guys, plus the whole grom crew: Janna Meyen, Ben Ashburner, Joel Mahaffey-it was sick.
Sounds like quite a crew.
Those were the days ... we were just kids, like thirteen and fourteen. We were best friends-a team really, but it was because we were friends and everyone got along. It was me, Janna, Joel, Ben, Jason Toth, and Billy. There were no video parts to worry about-just going out and having fun. I was never very good at causing trouble, but Joel and Ben were-we raised hell.
Do you think there's too much pressure now?
Well, the Olympics have really set the stage for the sport getting so serious. When Haakonsen made his decision not to be part of it, and said, "Hey, we're not skiers, we're not going to do this," I would've done the same. But then, everyone wants to be an Olympian-I did, too. So it's come to this-serious business where everyone needs an agent. The example set by the three Americans, though, was amazing. They did a really good job of handling themselves and the pressure. The Nestea commercial was pretty bad, but whatever.
I really think that the snowboard influence-the actual riders, the hardcore snowboarders-as long as these people keep doing gnarly stuff, it will always be cool. As long as people are putting their bodies on the line and pushing it, riding and working together to progress the sport-it's never going to get too organized. It'll never end up like skiing or judged like figure skating. There's way too much creativity and individuality for that.
On the subject of creativity, talk about art.
For me, a lot of the art influence came from The Garden. One night we were all out there with this sunset-some crazy shit was going on. I don't want to sound like a f-king hippie, but there was definitely somewhat of a spiritual vibe in the air. All of us decided to hike up to the top of the mountain behind our campsite to watch the sunset. We were clamoring up the front of this thing like wild animals. Jamie Lynn-by himself-just walks up a ridge and beats us to the top. For some reason, that made a huge impression on me.
From then on, Jamie was a huge influence-he did his own thing, followed his own path. He's an artistic person. Richard Woolcott and all those guys were really into art and were all part of that time. It really hit me that art is real-not bullshit. It affects people.
My dream is to become a fine artist. I've always been creative and tried to pursue it, but I feel like maybe I'm not good enough. Snowboarding in some ways has prevented me from concentrating solely on art, but I really want to be able focus on it-the way I have on snowboarding in my life so far.
Do you feel like life is on hold until snowboarding is over?
I've stopped my whole life for snowboarding.
But your whole life is snowboarding.
Exactly. I am about snowboarding and will always make decisions based on my love for it. The reason I'm a pro and doing this interview right now is because I want snowboarding to be cool for the future. I'd work at a restaurant at night and ride every day and never leave Mammoth, but I've had these opportunities you can't turn away from.
You've got some strong political views-here's your chance to share them.
A lot of people support our government without really asking what we're doing in relation to the rest of the world. I don't want to degrade the tragedy of September eleventh-everyone knows and agrees that it was a terrible situation. But the government and limited media really stole a chance for the United States to reflect upon how we affect other countries and the world. That was a wake-up call. Sure, we're great and doing lots of good things, but what have we done wrong? Why is there so much hatred toward us, and what can we do to prevent these things?
A lot of people are afraid to talk about this stuff, but all we have to do is get it out in the open-among friends. There's a vote for us if everyone could come together. This is a free country, we can say what we want and no one's going to kill us for it. We need to think of new ways to fix these old problems. Britney Spears is hot, don't get me wrong, but there's more to life than snowboarding and sitting at home watching TV.
Last season was a strong one for you. How did it all work out?
Blotto-my team manager-really helped. He brought me to Salt Lake and put me in an environment where I felt comfortable riding. I found a good crew that pushed me and didn't judge me. I learned to really trust Blotto and know he's looking out for my best interests. Shane Charlebois, who films for Kingpin, was also part of it. He used to ride for Burton back in the day, and we did some trips together then. So it was great to go and film with him-he's a good friend. Salt Lake is a great environment-Mikey LeBlanc is there, Seth Huot, Matty Ryan, those kids are sick-it was fun to see a tight-knit little scene. My main crew was Ali Goulet and Marc Frank. Watching how Marc handles himself at a jump and takes care of business is impressive. To finally be put in this position was amazing.
What took so long?
To tell you the truth, in my mind, I turned pro this year. It's the first time I'm really a pro. One main flaw in this industry a few years ago was the fact that everyone was professional. You get 200 dollars a month at fourteen, and you think you're hot shit. Most kids don't even reach their peak and think they hit it four years ago. A line needs to be drawn-amateurs should turn pro when they can get the work done. Everyone knows who is good, but the expectations should be different. Do it right the first time, and make sure to have all the tools when you step up to the plate and really push it. There's a lot to learn, and there's responsibility.
You have a lot of people to shout out and thank ...
Mom, Dad, Billy, Yale, Kenny, Paul, Paula, all the Andersons, and all the Wilsons.
Also Joe W., Voich, Mellow, Angry Tony, Luke, Bob, Two-jaws, Blacky, D-1, Tom W. at Headquarters, MMC, Steven, Danny, Trevor and Baker. Niki, T-Bird, Kino, all those bastards at Grenade, Pat Prettyman, Fat Shaun, Dean Predator, Papa Haze, Ronny and Denise, Peter and Thos, Dustin DelGuidice, and Kyle Cadam. Dean "Blotto" Gray, Twitty, Carl, Gus Buckner, Matty Swanson, Sue Izzo, Nick Russian, Jamie Lynn, Richard Woolcott, Troy Eckert, Ethan Anderson, Brian Dunlap, Greg Daschyshin, John Colona, Trent and Troy Bush, Trevor Andrew, Terje, J.G., Doyle, Rene Hansen, and Jake Burton. Chris Owen, Todd Richards, Dave Sypniewski, Jason Brown, Jamil Kahn, the Alliance, Janna Meyen, Jason Toth, Todd Hazeltine, Bryan Iguchi, Mike Parillo, Dan Peterka, Matt Pindroh and everyone at the shop. Dave Driscoll, Joe D'Orazio, David Dawson Downing, Shane Charlebios, Brad Kremer, Whitey, Wittlake, LeBlanc, Marc Frank, Seth Hout, and all the SLC punks. Ryan Lougee and the Un-Inc. posse. Gigi, J.P. Solberg, Romain, and DCP.
Thanks to my sponsors: Burton, Volcom, Oakley, Clae shoes, Liberty Board Shop, and Grenade Gloves. This list is as far as my brain could go-if I forgot you, you know who you are.