For British snowboarders – and in fact for all Brits – Jenny Jones was the story of the Olympics. Since she won bronze her face has been on the front page of almost every major paper, and she’s invited onto radio stations and chatshow sofas up and down the country. We thought it was high time we caught up with her for a proper chat about her homecoming, the hype and of course, what it felt like to see that score come up on the board after the agonising wait…
Hey Jenny, how has the past week been?
It’s pretty much been non-stop. I’ve had maybe one full day off. My voice is going from talking… It’s really exhausting. It sounds pathetic but I promise you it is. I came back and did Sunday Brunch, the One Show, went up to Manchester and did BBC stuff, that was all there, that was about six hours of doing stuff. They take you all round different shows so we did some radio, BBC breakfast live, some football thing, a women’s thing, world news… just… stuff! That was the longest day. But what was lovely was that the train people gave us first class there and back complementary which was so nice. It’s funny though I feel like a famous person or something.
You are a famous person Jenny! Has anyone recognised you in the street yet?
[Laughs] Actually yeah but that’s only because I have to wear the Team GB kit so it makes it pretty obvious – walking around with a massive Great Britain down your back. People have been so nice though, so many people have come up to me and been like “Oh my god, we watched you in our pyjamas and we were crying…” It all seems to revolve around breakfasty/pyjama-ey scenarios and crying. [Laughs] And yeah at the hotel they gave me a complimentary upgrade to a suite and they had a congratulations thing there. It’s just like… yeah it’s been so nice.
Who are the coolest people you’ve sat with on chat show sofas?
Well there was Hazel Irvine and Clare Balding, sporty chicks who are cool, they’re pretty nice. Then there was Alex and Matt on the One Show, they were nice, and then when I went on the Tim Lovejoy Sunday Brunch I got to meet Warwick Davis. That was pretty cool, cos I grew up watching Willow, and then there was the lovely girl from Blue Peter, Helen Skelton. And then on BBC Breakfast I appeared with the doctor out of Embarrassing Bodies. He’s so interesting – he’d just swallowed a tapeworm or something that would cause him to get a tapeworm so he could watch it grow in his body. I was like “You’re weird”. And then I’m going on Jonathan Ross…
Everyone’s stories of watching seem to revolve around breakfast-ey/pyjama-ey scenarios and crying!
No way? That’s cool.
I know! I was so happy about that. That’s probably the highest profile thing I’ve done. It was so funny, I was with the comedian Jack Whitehall, he was really cool. He was quite funny, we were sat there taking the piss out of… Oh I probably shouldn’t really say.
Ah go on, who were the other guests?
Really? The reformed McFly and Busted?
Yes! [Laughs] No, but they were all very nice chaps, they were all very friendly. Lizzy [Yarnold, the Skeleton Bob gold medallist] was on there too, and that was the first time I’d seen her since she won so we had a congratulations moment, that was really nice. She seemed on a high, which was great to see.
You must have been riding on a wave of euphoria yourself?
Yeah just a buzz really. And I’ve just kept saying to myself, “OK relax now, you’ve done the hard bit. This bit is the fun bit.” You know it’s taken a lot of ups and downs over the last year or two, so now I’m just telling myself “don’t worry too much.” And I really have been enjoying it, I have been having a wonderful time. Today I felt pretty knackered, filming for Jonathan Ross finished pretty late and then I had some drinks with friends so today I’ve been a bit like “oof” but it’s mostly been really great.
Was there a sense of relief when you got the medal? Like a goal achieved?
Honestly what I thought was that I’d landed the run as well as I possibly could. And I thought: “You’ve done yourself proud there, in front of a lot of people. You’ve proved you can put a run down when it counts. And now whatever happens after that is out of my hands.” I knew I would drop down that score board because I know what those girls are capable of. So that wasn’t too worrying, because I knew that would happen. As a few girls had gone and they’d fallen I was like “oh my god, actually I might just hang on in there here.” And then I thought “no, don’t even think that, don’t even go down that road.” But then when it got to the last girl I think that was really when I was thinking “I’m actually in with a chance here.” And then… yeah, just… I couldn’t believe it. I mean there were something like 10 girls who dropped after me.
So the relief and the sense of achievement was when you actually landed the run?
Yeah exactly. When I landed and I rode down into the crowd area, I looked out and thought “There you go, I’ve done it! I’ve not made an idiot of myself, and I’ve proved to myself that I can do it.”
When did you decide to go for the Games?
Well I remember getting the call saying that slopestyle was in the games, because it was a few days before my birthday [in July 2011]. I had a good think about it for a month or so and then it just came down to thinking how could I go through the rest of my life knowing that I’d had a chance to go to the Olympics and not gone? I had to think of all the things that might happen, like I might not make it there, or might not make the finals, or might not get a medal but at least I’d have tried. That’s what I thought. I had to accept that it might not all go my way but at least I could say that to myself, that at least I’d have tried.
I thought: “What are the chances of me landing a frontside 9 with a grab, and not dragging my hand?” I didn’t think the chances were that high and I thought I had more chance of cleaning up my run.
That moment after landing the run was like the culmination of two years of hard work then?
Yeah. And what’s funny was that I’d been practising and practising and practising my backside 7, and I didn’t even use it. It didn’t even come out. I was like “are you kidding me?” I’d busted my balls and I’d been so stoked to get that trick. But because the course was so big I just knew that it wasn’t the right time for doing that trick.
The debate at top after your first run must have been interesting. Did you always know you wanted to do the same run but clean it up? Or were you thinking about trying something different – like that back 7 or even a 9?
It was going to be the 9. And yeah that was the exact conversation that me and Hamish had at the top. I was like “right we’re going to make this decision together and stick to it.” He said “it’s so 50-50…” but then we thought “let’s look at this logically” Thankfully in the practise I’d had time to try some 9s. I’d landed one and I’d sketched one. And we thought: “What are the judges looking for here?” From what I’d learned from watching the boys the day before they were really cutting on little taps on the board instead of grabs, and hand-drags. So I thought: “What are the chances of me landing a frontside 9 with a grab, and not dragging my hand?” I didn’t think the chances were that high and I thought I had more chance of cleaning up my run.
What a decision to have to make! You’re totally right to have read the judging like that though, that was a great call.
Yeah I think it helps that I’ve competed a lot, and I’ve definitely made mistakes with decisions like that before. I’ve done too much in the semi-final and didn’t get through to a final and stuff… And actually for me the semi-final of this comp was so much more nerve-wracking than the final. Because I’d have been so much more gutted not to have made the final than not to win a medal. That was my goal, and once I knew that I’d done enough to get through it was weird. I was happy that I’d made it that far but I couldn’t stay in that moment for too long. I had to go and eat, drink, and go back up and start training for the next part of the comp. If you don’t get your head back on in time, you missed it.
Watching the qualifying, you looked gutted to just miss out on an automatic qualifying spot. We were stoked you’d got 5th, but did you find that really hard?
I actually really, really wanted to have gotten straight through. Because it was three days before we got to compete again. And that’s three more days of not knowing whether I’d made the final or not and like I said my goal was to come to the Olympics and make an Olympic final. Because that proves that you are one of the top girls and I hadn’t done that. So then the worry, the nerves were all still there and they wouldn’t have been if I’d made it. However looking back it was probably a blessing in disguise because I then had to do the semi-final and if it wasn’t for doing that I wouldn’t have had quite as much practise and I wouldn’t have had so much energy and nervous release after the semi-final. So then when I went into the final, of course I wanted to do well, but I think I was more relaxed. And the more relaxed you are and the more you enjoy it – cos I was really starting to enjoy it – the better your tricks look. Style comes back [laughs]
I guess putting down your first run must have helped you relax a bit? I felt really sorry for Jamie Anderson standing at the top having not put down a run, especially with the pressure of being the favourite.
God yeah. She is one cool customer under pressure though. And she did a beautiful run, she really made it look easy.
Well yours did too. Your rails were great, so clean.
Yeah they’re getting better. I’m now not the crappest girl on the rails anymore [laughs] I’m just the medium one. But the one thing I would have improved looking back on that is that I wish I’d held my grab on the front 7 all the way round, like I know I can do. It was sort of held… but you know, that’s pretty minor.
How about that wait as well? Bloody hell.
Well yeah [laughs]. I was just thinking, well, it is what it is. And I definitely was not expecting it to score that high. I was so pumped when I saw that score, so pumped. And then do you know what I thought? I honestly thought Sina Candrian [who’s run included a front 10] would’ve scored higher than me. In any other contest she would’ve scored higher.
Well that’s interesting, because I thought the judges called that right. They were basically rewarding style and clean tricks over sketchier better tricks. Style was scoring better, which is quite cool I thought.
Well yeah I guess. She dragged her hand and stuff. I tell you what it definitely reassured me that had I done a 9, it’s highly unlikely that I would have been on that podium.
I could have been fourth. And then this would be a totally different scenario right now. It would have been all different.
Yeah that was such a good call.
Yeah. What’s funny is that I could have been fourth. And then this would be a totally different scenario right now. It would have been all different.
It sounds as if your medal is really having an effect on kids around the country, we’ve heard several people say dryslope lessons are being booked out, and loads of kids are trying snowboarding for the first time.
That’s probably the coolest thing that has come from this actually. It’s so cool, people have said lessons are booked up, websites have been crashing, dryslope instructors are working their asses off [laughs]. Did you see Colin Holden’s message that he put up? It was a text from a snowboard instructor. Lemme read it to you: “Hi Colin, I have been very busy teaching due to Jenny and the boys. What a good job they’ve done. Every new person I ask says it’s all down to them. It’s all going mad!” And Colin’s put: “The effects of Sochi team success. When the godfather of Chatham dryslope Tony Hierons is working flat out!” I was like “fuck, that is so cool!” [Laughs].
It’s crazy what you’ve started!
Well yeah I think the boys too. I think the boys the day before got a lot of people hooked in.
What do you hope the legacy of your medal will be?
Well inspiring kids, but then keeping that going is important. I hope we’ve got enough things in place to make that happen and to keep them interested. I just hope that that’s what will carry on now. I hope it will help get more people into snowboarding, at that grassroots level, and they’ll stay into it. I think people will stay into it because the domes always had a good buzz before, they’ll just hopefully have more now.
What’s next for you now, are you going to shred some pow, or lie on a beach somewhere?
Well I had really wanted to go somewhere and go surfing but I can’t see a gap in the schedule yet. [laughs] But I promised myself that I would go and lie on a beach and do some surfing for a few days, so I’m definitely going to do that for a bit. And then I’m looking forward to getting back snowboarding really. I got a few bumps and bruises from that comp in the first few practise days but once they’re healed up I’m keen to get back out there. I’m looking forward to 9 Queens, which is an all-girls photoshoot contest which looks wicked. Skiers did it before and now snowboard girls have been invited to it, Katie Summerhayes and Aimee Fuller will be going as well. After that it’s the Community Cup which is a five star contest out in Breck, so I’ll go out to that as well.
Without a doubt I would do Strictly. Because for the last five or six years I’ve been addicted to it. It’s my guilty pleasure and I’d only tell my closest friends… and now all Whitelines readers!
What about long-term, are you going to keep riding and competing for the forseeable?
Well yeah I’ll definitely keep riding and competing for the next couple of years because I’m enjoying it, and also I’ve got a few more goals I’d like to achieve in snowboarding. You’re totally aware of one of my goals [incredibly, Jenny has never been on the cover of Whitelines, and she would like a cover] and I’ve also got certain tricks I’d like to learn and certain video things I’d like to do to show the grandkids you know.
And finally, when the inevitable call comes to go on Strictly Come Dancing or I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! or a show like that, will you do it? And which would you pick?
Without a doubt I would do Strictly. Because for the last five or six years I’ve been addicted to it. It’s my guilty pleasure and I’d only tell my closest friends… and now all Whitelines readers I guess [laughs]. Please don’t judge me on that! I think the cool thing about Strictly is you actually learn something new, you actually learn to dance. I grew up watching Dirty Dancing and I’m like: “Yes, this is pretty much like Dirty Dancing.”
Any shout-outs you want to give?
Yeah I’d like to say thanks to the rest of the team – Billy, Jamie, Dom, Ben, Aimee, and Katie O and everyone too. And then a massive, massive thank you to Hamish McKnight. And to Lesley McKenna. And Paddy Mortimer too. Then Alison Robb the physio and Ewan Baxter and people behind the scenes too, Colin Holden is one of them. It’s as much their achievement as it is mine. Although I can’t see Hamish going on Strictly!