From plastic snow in England to the real stuff in Chile, Jenny Jones pushes women’s snowboarding
Jenny Jones’ hometown of Bristol is one of the warmest cities in the United Kingdom, hosts a yearly international hot air balloon festival, and is also home to Clifton College, whose graduate John Cleese once said, “If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.”
And so, on a snowboard—in England and around the world—Jenny Jones plays. As the only Winter X Games 15 snowboard competitor from Great Britain, Jones has won two consecutive slopestyle gold medals in Aspen as well as the inaugural Winter X Games Europe in the same discipline. And though the Olde Kingdom is not the ideal place to train for snowboarding, Jones makes up for it by working creatively wherever the snow falls.
“I have a lot of friends internationally and ride a lot with them as much as the British team,” she said. “I ride a lot with the British guys too, and I try to come over to the States as much as I can.”
Still, even as she looks to defend her Winter X Games gold medal, Jones hasn’t forgotten her English snowboarding roots. Such as competing as an up-and-comer on dry slopes (surfaces with bristles facing upwards in diamond-shaped patterns) and having to tape her fingers together to avoid breaking them in a fall, or the two six-inch metal plates and long scar on her left arm from taking a spill on the artificial snow.
“But this year when it snowed a lot, they put up rail parks in Scotland,” she said. “And they actually have a full snowboard park up there.”
In addition to the real white stuff, Jones also notes that Snowflex—a polymer-based surface resting on a shock-absorption later—is growing in the UK, and that with seven domes featuring man-made snow, there are venues for British youngsters looking to ride. Often, they do so through snowboard clubs that travel to grammar schools to introduce kids to the sport, as well as keep the industry growing in the country.
“It’s a real key outlet that we have for the kids,” she added. “And they’re all really good at jibbing—they’d kick my ass.”
Jones, who also skateboards and surfs and had a broken heelbone all summer, was back on her board in September, and, true to her word of chasing snow globally, training in Chile for the month.
“I’m not making any excuses for myself, but I’ll be happy if I land a solid run,” she said regarding Sunday’s slopestyle final. “Ideally I’d like to see myself up there on the podium.”
And given the rise of snowboarding back home, Jones knows the importance of supporting the youth whenever she returns.
“But snowboarding as compared to soccer—or football as we call it,” she said, “doesn’t stand much of a chance.”
PHOTO CREDIT on Jenny2.jpg: Courtesy of Tomas Zuccareno/Shazamm/ESPN Images
Nick Cunkelman is a senior at Colby College in Waterville, ME who grew up skiing at Vermont’s Mad River Glen, a mere three-hour drive from his home in Acton, MA. His writing has appeared in The Colby Echo, The Jackson Hole News and Guide, and The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. For more photos, go to sport-write-shoot.tumblr.com.