Among the ranks of professional snowboarders, relatively few riders earn pro models. Factor in the female component, and for this year's crop of boards, that number dwindles to precisely six: 2010 Olympians Torah Bright and Gretchen Bleiler, Dutch slopestyle sensation Cheryl Maas, Anne-Flore Marxer, Lisa Filzmoser, and the lady with the longest-running pro model, Barrett Christy.
This October, at long last, Christy will have company on Gnu with the release of the Ladies Choice by Jamie Anderson. It's fitting: Not since Christy, the 10-time Winter X Games medalist, dominated the comp scene in the late-'90s and early '00s has a female rider won with as much consistency and grace as Gnu's newest pro (save Tara Dakides and Janna Meyen-Weatherby).
Just 21 years old in September, the South Lake Tahoe native has been a sponsored rider since she was 9 years old. Among her slopestyle accolades (a list that's becoming so ridiculously long, it's almost Michael Phelps-ian): the last two TTR World Tour overall wins, the last two Winter Dew Tour overall wins, a Burton Global Open Series win, a U.S. Open win, three Winter X gold medals (also: the youngest medalist and youngest female gold medalist in Winter X history), an Arctic Challenge win. And with two wins in New Zealand already this season -- and the promise of Slopestyle on the Winter Olympic program come 2014 -- it doesn't seem like she's slowing down anytime soon.
Natural ability and technical prowess aside, good equipment can't hurt. Out in Sequim, Wash., at Mervin Manufacturing -- the same place that outfits riders like Jamie Lynn, Travis Rice and Danny Kass -- they put something in the water.
After leaving Salomon snowboards in 2009, Anderson was a free agent and chose to ride Gnu boards. Why? "Because Gnu boards are the best!" she says.
"She started asking for them because she wanted to try them," says Christy, who heads up the Gnu Girls division. Two seasons later, Gnu let her design her own board. "She proved she was backing the boards and the tech, rather than going with the sponsor who threw down the most money."
After Anderson tested boards with different flex patterns, cores and camber profiles, the limited edition Ladies Choice was born. Designed specifically for Jamie -- an aggressive park and freerider -- it has pop, stability and balance through asymmetry, and it's fine-tuned with all the tech the Mervin mad scientists can conjure, including C2BTX (camber on the nose and tail, rocker between the feet, Magne-Traction for maximum edge hold -- crucial for pop off jumps and for holding it together on icy landings) and Pickle Tech (asymmetrical sidecut over heel and toe edges, quick turns without being too squirrelly).
The design, by London illustrator and visual artist Sarah King, was inspired by a drawing Anderson did of a Stellar's Jay, a bird native to Lake Tahoe. The swirling text is Anderson's words of inspiration.
"I love working with the art, new colors and designs," says Anderson, who also has a signature outerwear and streetwear line with Billabong, a goggle with Electric and a shoe and boot with DVS. She hopes to start her own eco-friendly company someday, too.
The Ladies Choice By Jamie Anderson will retail for $540 and is available as a 148.5 and a 151.5, expanding to four sizes for the 2012-13 season.