Giving back with love: Anderson provides snowboarding sponsorships for local students
Jamie Anderson has a passion for snowboarding — and the five-time slopestyle gold medalist is using her resources to ignite that love of the sport in the next generation. Three South Lake Tahoe students — Jade Smith, Michael Kornbeck and Justice Ensign — were awarded sponsorships through Anderson’s Give Back With Love program, allowing deserving students to experience the life of a sponsored rider.
“We want them to have the freedom to get on the mountain with all this new gear and get the opportunity to expand on a dream — just like Jamie did,” said Thea Hardy, communications manager at Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort.
A ceremony was held at South Tahoe High on Tuesday to recognize the three students. The presentation featured gifts of a complete snowboard setup and gear from Anderson’s sponsors — including Oakley, Gnu and Roxy — a GoPro camera and a season pass to Sierra-at-Tahoe, items valued at more than $2,500 combined.
“I’m so grateful to provide this opportunity to others,” Anderson said in a statement. “To see the smiles on these amazing kids’ faces when we present them with an entire setup and season pass is so rewarding for me. My goal is for them to be able to ride as much as they can, and hopefully fall in love with snowboarding like I did.”
Ensign, a fifth-grader at Tahoe Valley Elementary, could barely contain his excitement as he turned to the table full of handpicked gear and equipment. He said snowboarding makes him think of “everything that’s awesome.”
“It was really exciting — it was like Christmas all over again,” he said.
Ensign has been snowboarding for the past six years, mostly on the hill behind his house — he has only been on the mountain a few times. The 11-year-old who also skateboards has already landed a 180, and is working on his 360.
“It’s really fun and you can do a lot,” Ensign said. “All the tricks that I can’t do on my skateboard, I can do on my snowboard.”
For Michael Kornbeck, an eighth-grader at South Tahoe Middle, snowboarding represents an outlet where he can deal with the stresses of everyday life. On the hill, the 14-year-old is working to perfect a grab 180 that he already has landed many times.
“I haven’t really had the best life — I use a lot of things to cope, and snowboarding is one of those things,” Kornbeck said. “It helps me get away from everything — it’s a fun way to get away from anything that’s bothering me.”
Kornbeck was in awe of the opportunity and said he was grateful to be one of the three students selected. Even after winning, he said he didn’t expect what came along with the recognition.
“It’s a very big privilege,” he said. “I know there are other kids that deserve this too — so to be chosen out of all of those kids feels really good. It feels good to be noticed.”
Smith, a sophomore at South Tahoe High, grew up going to Sierra-at-Tahoe since the age of 3. The 16-year-old clutched her board tight as she spoke about the chance to snowboard regularly at the resort.
“Being able to get a pass and board and some gear — it’s a really cool opportunity,” Smith said. “It was awesome seeing all the cool stuff — the board was sick and I like the jacket. There was a GoPro, so I get to shoot some sick stuff on it. It’s awesome.”
Smith, who grew up next to Anderson, began snowboarding at an early age before her brother encouraged her to try snowskating. She has snowskated for the past seven years — including in competitions — and sees this sponsorship as an opportunity to get back into snowboarding.
“I like seeing all the cool tricks they do, new things and how it’s revolutionized,” she said. “It’s an awesome sport.”
In addition to a complete setup and season pass, the sponsorship includes the opportunity to ride with Anderson for a day at Sierra-at-Tahoe later this month. Each student is looking forward to being on the mountain with the highly decorated local star.
“I’ve always wanted to meet a celebrity and this is my chance — it will be a really good opportunity,” Kornbeck said.
Lake Tahoe Unified School District students applied for the sponsorship last fall by writing letters explaining why they deserved the award — from many submissions, principals within the district selected three candidates based on a number of criteria. Anderson’s generosity along with the hospitality of her resort sponsor allows for these three recipients to fully experience the sport.
“We like to support local youth in the community — Jamie and our brand absolutely align in that respect,” Hardy said. “We’re happy to provide a season pass for those kids that are going to come up and make a difference.”
On and off the mountain, Anderson provides a great example of just how to do that.
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