It's not every day you get the chance to snowboard with one of the world's best slopestyle riders, but that's just what four South Tahoe Middle School students will do when they hit the slopes with Jamie Anderson Friday.
The professional snowboarder decided last year to give back to her hometown by taking two STMS students snowboarding at Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort for a day --all gear provided.
"What inspired me was growing up in this town. I feel like I can relate to these kids. I didn't always have the financial resources to snowboard, and I wanted to give back to these kids," Anderson said.
She decided to up the ante this year. Since choosing two students out of the applicants was too hard, she's taking all four children up the mountain and will provide each of them with a Sierra-at-Tahoe season pass, new Billabong outerwear, a GNU snowboard, boots, bindings, goggles and Skullcandy headphones.
When Guillermo Perez-Morris, 12, Alondra Gomez, 13, Megan Aquino, 13, and Cesar Hernandez, 13, filed into the STMS conference room Wednesday, they thought only two of them would win the chance to ride with Anderson.
"I thought I would congratulate the winner, but now it's better we're all going and no one has to go home sad. I want to see the video of me falling," Perez-Morris said.
Perez-Morris and the other three students selected for Anderson's sponsorship had only been on the mountain once before for a fifth-grade trip to Heavenly Mountain Resort. But that doesn't mean they're intimidated to ride with a Winter X Games multiple-time gold medalist, and Anderson said she's excited to tear up the magic carpet zone.
"There's absolutely no worries. I know you're new to snowboarding, so we're just going to get out and have fun. We can stay on the bunny hill. I love teaching, and I've been there," Anderson said.
Each of the students wrote essays outlining why they thought they deserved the sponsorship. Hernandez wrote that the opportunity would be "like a giant Christmas present," while Gomez said that even though she hadn't snowboarded for three years, she hoped to "get back on track and maybe be as good as you, Jamie Anderson."
Aquino thought that she could add snowboarding to her list of athletic endeavors that she's passionate about, and Perez-Morris wanted to eventually help South Lake Tahoe like Anderson by building an indoor Astroturf field for children to play on year round.
"When I become a professional soccer player my goal is to do what you are doing and help kids who aren't rich experience something new. I am not rich financially but I am rich in my family and friends who are there for me no matter what," he wrote in his essay.
STMS Principal Beth Delacour said the students' vision for the future set them apart from their peers, but choosing four students for the sponsorship was still very difficult.
"I could have given them 600 kids. Middle school is where you plant the seeds so they can dream about where they can be and not where they are. I think down the road they'll come back and support others," Delacour said.