For many years, within the relatively tight-knit snowboard community, Jenny Jones was known as the golden girl of British snowboarding. All that changed on February 9th 2014 when she rocketed into public consciousness by becoming the first ever Briton to win an Olympic medal on snow at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Jenny has been a regular visitor to Morzine for many years and therefore has a lot of friends in town. The reaction to her Olympic final was truly amazing. People were crying, dancing on tables, throwing drinks around and generally losing themselves in the excitement. From the reaction, you’d have thought she’d won the entire Olympics. It honestly felt like she had.
Unsurprisingly, she’s been quite busy since the games and we were lucky enough to catch up with her. But before she tells us about life after Sochi and her history with our beloved town of Morzine, let’s refresh our memory…
That’s quite a collection of medals and trophies you’ve got there Jenny. Have you got a special cabinet for them?
Haha yes it’s called my underwear draw so they don’t get scratched! I am not the cabinet type but when I stop competing I guess I will think about maybe framing some of my contest bibs and medals for memory’s sake.
In all seriousness though Jenny, huge congratulations from everybody in Morzine and the Portes du Soleil on your Sochi performance. We were in a massive emotional state watching you. Has any of the stoke faded since the games?
It’s been under a year so it’s still very new and exciting!
You’re a household name now, has the fame changed your life?
Not dramatically but I do get recognised more, especially in my hometown of Bristol. The immediate months following the Olympics were quite a rollercoaster and I sat on many a breakfast show sofa and had some nice chats with various celebrity presenters. The Jonathan Ross Show was pretty funny and nerve racking all at once; chatting on BBC Radio 1; trying to get at least one question right on A Question of Sport; doing my best not to laugh too much on the panel of Sky 1’s A League of Their Own with James Corden, Freddie Flintoff, Jamie Redknapp and Jack Whitehall. I have also visited lots of schools and had several Q&A sessions at assemblies and sports days. It is such a different experience when you are thrown into a totally new environment. It’s not like you have been trained in talking to an audience of 500 high school children. I was definitely nervous at the beginning but did my best to take on the challenge. It was awesome to meet so many children of different ages and talk to them about the world of snowboarding. Kids have tons of enthusiasm for snowsports and it opened my eyes to how many talented youngsters we have coming through.
You’ve been known to frequent the pistes and the nightlife of Morzine on occasion. What’s your history with the town?
Years ago whilst I was competing in Whistler and Vail, some of my friends were visiting new spots in France, working seasonal jobs and then settling in Morzine. After recovering from my knee injury back then I decided I wanted to ease back into riding in a nice environment with mates. I joined the girls in Morzine and stayed there for half the season, then started competing. I kept going back each year, being based with the girls in Morzine and having a great time. We would all go shredding together at the Baby Park or Les Crosets snowpark, some days we would meet up with other friends to go and build powder kickers, other days we’d blast about the mountains or ride powder in the trees. There was always a nice vibe whenever I’ve hung out there so I have a warm connection to it. Plus a few sweaty nights in the Cavern and dancing in Paradis or Opera! Haha.
Will you be back this winter for some Chapelle park laps?
Definitely. I might even head there for Christmas… It depends on the contests and winter schedule but I’m really hoping to do so as I didn’t manage to go last year. I’m looking forward to a nice coffee from Dotty’s too, and I’ve heard there are a few new places open for an evening drink so I’m looking forward to checking those out.
What’s your favourite place to ride in the Portes du Soleil?
All of it, depending on the day, however I still haven’t done the full circuit challenge so I might have to tick that off the list soon.
Are we going to see a Jenny Jones post-Olympic snowboard movie part from you in the future? We’d love to see a front 9 into the pow!
To be honest I don’t think I will do another full snowboard part. However I do really hope to get some solid tricks on film and will hopefully put that together in a smaller edit.
Every year we see more and more girls riding park, what advice can you offer to any of them who want to start competing?
I would say definitely give it a go, ladies, and here’s some things to think about.
How will you start developing your contest experience and skills? Learn tactics and strategies for how to best tackle a comp and prepare for it, as it is slightly different to a day riding the park. However, get stuck in, because the girls you’re competing against are just other girls riding a snowboard, who will most certainly be nervous and most likely quite friendly.
Who out of the next generation of riders do you think will go far?
From Britain I would say Katie Ormerod & Matt McCormick.
Traditionally, when a country does well in an Olympic sport, the funding and inspiration for that discipline increases. Do you think competitive snowboarding is going to snowball like cycling has? In the next 4 to 8 years are we going to see a glorious haul of winter medals?
I don’t think it will be quite like cycling simply because it isn’t as accessible and affordable, however I do think there will be a general increase in participation because there has been such a huge surge of interest over the past winter. I really hope people and families stick with it, then book some trips abroad to gain a real experience of the overall feel you get from a snowboard holiday or trip. It really is unique and people get a lot more out of it than they expect.
There was a lot of talk about the safety of Slopestyle and the size of the jumps during the Olympics. Some of those kickers were monsters. Were they too big or do you think the jump size was proportional for the biggest stage on the planet?
Honestly, I think the jumps were massive! However, it was more the way they were built that was the difficult part; initially they needed reshaping and tweaking so that they were safer. I think once they had been changed, although they were still big, they were a lot more manageable and had more room for error. So if you went a little too big or too small there weren’t such gnarly consequences. For me though, I found the rails pretty tricky, as it was such a tight course. I’m not sure it showed on the TV but the top rail section was so close together, you had to be so accurate with your tricks, otherwise you wouldn’t be in the right position to make the next rail.
Snowboarding takes you all over the world, where’s the best place you’ve been on your travels?
I have loved so many places, the BC backcountry in Retallack, [Canada]; Silverton, Colorado; Narvik, Norway and Iceland.
And what’s the worst?
Nowhere has been awful, but more that we didn’t score good powder or the terrain wasn’t as good as we’d hoped. One place I would like to go for powder riding would be Japan because everyone talks about the awesome powder there. I have only ever been once, specifically for a contest, so I really hope I can get out there soon to experience the magic.
What does the future hold for you?
Who knows? All I know is that it will definitely involve everything I enjoy – snowboarding, surfing and adventures. I really hope to do the odd coaching course for those interested in improving their riding and trying freestyle, etc. I’m really excited about this year and will keep you posted on developments.
We’ve got a few quick-fire questions for you, no hesitation!
Regular or goofy? Goofy
Frontside or Backside? Frontside
Opera or Paradis? Paradis
Tacos or Scorpions? Tacos
Early mornings or late nights?
Both, just not at the same time – I’m not that rock and roll, haha!
Whiteout Stash or slushy baby park?
Slushy baby park
Tartiflette or fondue? Tartiflette
Ok, Jenny. Thanks so much for your time. We’ll be keeping an eye out for you in a park near here this winter. Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout-out to?
Massive thank you to all my sponsors: Salomon, Oakley, Pentax cameras, Nissan. The awesome Tammy at Mint Snowboarding. The guys at Morzine who have hooked me up with a lift pass over the past years. Family and, of course, Morzine friends who I have so many awesome memories with, shredding the Portes du Soleil together.
ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT NICK ATKINS