MEET Miss Jones, the former cupboard inspector, doughnut factor worker and chalet girl who is now Great Britain’s first and only Winter Olympic medallist on snow.
Much was made of British hopes of ending a 90-year run without a medal on the white stuff in Sochi, but it was the teenage ‘Fridge Kids’, so dubbed because they learned their skills at the UK’s indoor snow domes, that were expected to deliver.
Instead it was 33-year old snowboarder Jenny Jones who proved that even in a sport designed for the X-Box generation there are still some new tricks that only old timers know.
A former pupil at The Ridings High School – now Winterbourne International Academy – Jones is considered something of a pioneer when it comes to slopestyle, which involves impressing judges with a range of gravity defying tricks down a course of rails and jumps.
She is a two-time X Games champion, which was the pinnacle of her sport until the International Olympic Committee – looking to freshen up the Games and appeal the younger audiences – gave it the nod for inclusion in Sochi.
However, those ‘in the know’ – they usually wear baggy trousers and baseball caps at a jaunty angle – thought her time had gone. They were wrong.
“I found out three years ago that this was going to happen and I wondered whether I could hang on and just make the team,” said Jones, the oldest qualifier in the final by more than six years.
“I don’t feel like an old lady. These girls are a lovely bunch and they keep me young and allow me out late to party every now and then.
“I just can’t believe I’ve had this opportunity. There was only a slim chance slopestyle would be included here and I wanted so much just to be an Olympian, everything else was a bonus.
“I used to focus on the X Games and that was my goal but this feels extra special. I feel very proud to have won a bronze medal for my country, I can’t believe it’s our first on snow.
“It all feels very surreal and I can’t quite believe the situation I’m in.”
Jones certainly made the podium the hard way after missing automatic qualification to the final by just one place. She came through the semi-finals and was second of the 12 in the final to ‘drop in’.
That meant after posting the leading score after her second run, she faced an anxious wait. For 15 minutes she was top of the leaderboard, then she spent 13 minutes in silver before slipping into bronze as the last rider took to the course.
She couldn’t watch, virtually stripping the Union flags painted on her fingernails in anxiety before Austrian Anna Gasser, who had been the most impressive qualifier, made a decisive error that meant her medal was secure.
There were no tears, just hysterical laughter and she was still giggling two hours later.
“It was so difficult just waiting, the feeling of relief is ridiculous now I’ve managed to get that medal,” added Jones.
“I gave myself a lot to do having to come through the semi-finals but I just tried to keep focussed and keep my game head on.”
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