Annalisa Drew is bringing a bit of Boston to the Olympic halfpipe

Freestyle skier Annalisa Drew. –Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Before Annalisa Drew and her US halfpipe ski teammates arrived here to begin training for competition, they went to Japan for a private camp at Aomori Springs Ski Resort. They shred some powder, took in the wintry sights, and got their minds and bodies ready for these Games. They also got in some karaoke. And Drew, a two-time Olympian from Andover, Mass., stole the show. Literally.

Brita Sigourney was supposed to sing a duet of Aqua’s “Barbie Girl’’ with someone else, but that changed when Drew heard the song choice.

“And Anna came up and pushed him out of the way when she realized what song we were doing, and took the mic out of his hands,’’ said Sigourney, a two-time Olympian. “I was like, ‘OK!’ It was a good time.’’


Lisa Drew, Anna’s mother, back home in Massachusetts, watched all this play out over Instagram and Instagram stories, which last only 24 hours after a user uploads photos and videos. The skiers and team staffers documented their entire Japan trip, and although Lisa was able to keep up with all the posts, she felt a bit left out.

“I was dying,’’ said Lisa, who along with five other family members arrived here the day before qualifications. “And then they’ve been all doing those stories, which is really hard.’’

Lisa relied on screenshots of videos to show off Anna’s Olympic preparations to her friends and anyone who asks, although it is just not the same, she said.

But soon the whole world will be able to watch Drew’s talent and fierce competitiveness in the halfpipe, which she didn’t pick up until junior high, although she has been skiing since she was 3 years old. Drew, in fact, grew up a competitive figure skater, practicing four to five days a week for hours each session.

“I would never imagine that I was going to be skiing if I went to the Olympics,’’ she said. “I always thought, and so did my parents, that is was going to be figure skating.’’


Her family members, Boston sports and Winter Olympics fanatics, made trips to the 2002 Salt Lake and 2006 Turin Games. Drew, naturally, was drawn to watching the figure skating.

“For sure, like Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen and Sarah Hughes,’’ she said. “They were unbelievable.

“It’s really cool to be a spectator. The experience is unbelievable and so exciting.’’

But eventually Drew realized she wanted to settle into a sport that better fit her personality. Drew grew up skiing every weekend at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire, and after her cousins joined the mountain’s freestyle team, Drew, then 13, decided to follow suit. She and her parents soon decided she could best hone her skills at the New Hampton School, skiing with the Waterville Valley program.

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She eventually went pro, became the first woman to land a 1,260 in the halfpipe (pulling it off in 2013), moved to train at the Ski & Snowboard Club in Vail, Colo., earned an X Games bronze medal in 2016, and finished third in the World Cup halfpipe standings and fourth at the world championships last year.
She remained extremely close with her family, a tight-knit group that lives near each other in Andover.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without any one of them,’’ she said. “My family being here just means the world.’’

Drew’s mom and dad, brother and sister, cousin and aunt will all be at the bottom of the pipe here, hoping to surprise her with Fatheads, something that Drew’s cousin and best friend, Hayley, spearheaded.

“[Hayley] sent me a picture of all of them out on her bed,’’ Lisa said. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God that’s so exciting,’ because [Anna and I] were arguing the other day, ‘You better show up with Fatheads,’ and I laughed, and I texted the cousin, ‘Oh my God, she’s going to die.’ ’’


It does not take long to pick up on how deep Drew’s Boston roots run and how closely they are tied to sports. She is a lifelong Boston fan, and Drew’s grandparents have been Patriots season ticket-holders since Drew’s mother was a little girl. Going to games has been a family affair Anna’s entire life.

“It’s something I was born into for sure, and growing up in Andover you can’t avoid it,’’ Anna said.

Lisa put her four kids in Tom Brady jerseys before anything else.

“I’m pretty sure we still have them for our dog to wear because they’re just so tiny,’’ Drew said.

(But don’t ask her about Super Bowl LII. “I don’t want to talk about that,’’ she said at the first mention of the Patriots. “Don’t even ask that question.’’)

Ask fellow New Englander and Olympic halfpipe teammate Devin Logan about Drew, and the response is simple.

“We can say she loves Boston. All of it,’’ Logan said at the team’s arrival news conference as Drew looked on and smiled. “The sports teams, the accents.

“I know being a New Englander myself, she’s to the bone. She’ll give it to you straight, and that’s what you need being from Boston.’’

Gritty, passionate, unrelenting, intense, Drew is known on the halfpipe team for being a fiery competitor who on most training days prefers to be left alone to work on her craft without distraction, to fully own her program. (On competition day, Sigourney said Drew is more mellow and more light-hearted.) But halfpipe coach Ben Verge said those qualities are what allow Drew to take on such a difficult run, which at these Games will be a leftside 900 into a frontside rodeo 540 into a leftside 540, a rightside 900, a leftside 1,080, and a switch 540.

“She’s so tough, she’s willing to take big crashes and take big risks,’’ Verge said. “I would just say it is a testament to how tough she is and how gutsy she is and talented.

“In training, especially over the summer and this year, we’ve see her add good grabs and stuff into her runs and we know what’s there and what she’s capable of, so I’m excited to see what she does.’’

Maddie Bowman, the gold medalist in Sochi who frequently rooms with Drew on the road and admittedly enjoys pushing her teammate’s buttons, said she admires that Drew remains, in all circumstances, her true self, not changing who she is just because of where she may be or who she may be around.

“I think that’s pretty unique and pretty special,’’ Bowman said. “If I had to describe Anna, I would just say she’s just Boston. Like, she’s everything Boston. That’s her. And they’re like, ‘Oh, I get it.’ ’’