Regarded as the UK's most esteemed snowboarding export, two-time Winter X Games champion Jenny Jones has long been hailed by her peers for her considerable success and for putting Brits on the winter sports map. Dominating the female snowboarding scene for years, starring in countless movies and garnering an entourage of fans in the process, it's safe to say the 30-year-old has done it all .
In an intimate interview with Sport.co.uk conducted at the Relentless Freeze Festival last weekend, the Relentless Energy rider talked to us about the highs of lows of her career, her surprise inclusion in Loaded magazine’s 100 hottest babes poll and her plans for the future.
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Jenny. To start, would you mind telling us how you started snowboarding and how your career has progressed...
When I look back, my snowboarding career really occurred thanks to a series of fortunate events. When I was at college, I got given a free half hour dry slope lesson with my brothers and really enjoyed it and wanted to do it again, so subsequently signed up to go on the college skiing trip. During the trip, I think it really struck me that this was something I wanted to pursue further, to see where it would go; so I finished college and decided to defer from university for a year, instead heading to the French Alps to work as a chalet maid and boarding every day. I stayed there for about four months, earning money and getting better before eventually beginning to enter competitions; the rest, as they say, is history.
Obviously, you left your education behind to pursue snowboarding; was that a hard decision to make at the time?
In some ways I was taking a risk. I had no previous experience at snowboarding and, growing up in Bristol, the opportunities to get involved were limited, so it really was a massive step. University had been the obvious choice for me coming out of college but I knew that I could always come back to it. At the time, there were no programs set up aimed at combining the two so it really was one or the other. However, I knew that if I tried it out and it did not work, I could always come back to my education, as opposed to the other way around.
So how long did it take you to really establish yourself on the tour when you first got into it?
Well I started to make my name in America to start with, especially with my rookie of the year tagline that I won when I was just 21. Unfortunately, I suffered a really bad injury that year after a poor landing and a heavy crash, leaving me with a torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) and a nine month layoff period. The injury really could not have come at a worse time, ruining the progress I had built so far and leaving me very uncertain and vulnerable as to what implications this would have on my career. Thankfully, my recovery went well and by 25 I was internationally recognised and competing all over the world. Conversely, although the knee healed well, I still have to keep an eye on it and it will flare up from time to time, but thankfully it healed sufficiently and I was able to continue.
(Image courtesy of Relentless Energy)
According to your Soulsport profile, you are the UK’s greatest snowboard export. What would you have to say to that?
Wow; that’s a real compliment and a little surprising. I suppose if you look at the results from the competitions I have done, you can kind of understand that statement but it’s still crazy to think. It’s a flattering remark nevertheless but, with the talent that the UK has been producing recently, I would not be surprised if that changed in the near future.
Obviously snowboarding does not get the same attention or funding as the likes of football and rugby so it is that much harder for young snowboarders to break into it. If you were going to give advice to young snowboarder what would it be?
You see, you need to understand where snowboarding is these days; It’s ever changing and as such it’s hard to give advice because it may go from being worthwhile to worthless very quickly. Snowboarding does not get the same kind of coverage as the more mainstream events, but it’s still very positively received and as such is really growing.
It’s a daunting thought, especially with the gear and equipment costing so much more than what is required in other sports, but snowboarding offers you an unparalleled rush of adrenaline unlike anything else out there. You learn some great skills, meet some great people and have a great laugh while you compete; not something you get to do every day! It’s also a very versatile sport; you can ride powder, go free riding, take on challenging jumps; there’s always something you can do.
Who were your first sponsors?
Solomon the board make was my first and it came at just the right time. If you’re lucky enough to get sponsored, you know that things are on the way up because companies will only really invest if they can see a good return for their investment. I now ride for Relentless Energy who also sponsor the Freeze Festival.
So would it be fair to say that you see snowboarding as much more than just a career?
Absolutely! I have gained so much from snowboarding beyond my pay check such as the opportunity to travel, meet some of the most people you could imagine and enjoy every moment of it. Even if you look at it from just a recreational point of you, it has so much to offer, a reason why it continues to be so sort after for holidays. My career has been a fantastic bonus and I wouldn’t swap it for the world, but it’s the general enjoyment I have taken from it that keeps me coming back.
(Image courtesy of Relentless Energy)
Obviously this year, you won your second Winter US X Games freeslope gold medal...that must have been a great feeling...
Yeah, it was a fantastic feeling but it was odd. Coming back as the reigning champion was an added pressure I had never had to deal with before so it was like the first time I had ever competed again. To be fair I never expected to win this year especially as, coming into the tournament my knee was giving me great trouble and the day before had swollen to the size of a watermelon. Luckily the swelling died down and, though heavily strapped, it did not prevent me competing. I still can’t believe I won because my body really was in a bad way at the time. Luckily, I think the adrenaline and excitement got me through the tournament and my second gold medal in two years.
There’s something about snowboarding that is just so cool; the look, the tricks, the freedom; it all looks amazing. With that in mind, what would you say has been your favourite experience from snowboarding?
Just one? Impossible. I have experienced so much it would be unfair to narrow done to just one. The first time I went in a helicopter and was dropped at the top of a mountain was incredible, as was the first time I ever caused an avalanche. In regards to my career, a memory that will always still with me with be the first time I landed a 360; when anyone starts snowboarding it’s usually the main trick they want to master, so it was a really proud day for me.
How did your family receive you becoming a professional snowboarder?
To be fair they were nice and supportive which was slightly odd considering how it may have looked like a rash decision. I think, while they told me to go and have some fun they secretly thought that I would be back fairly soon and off to university. However, as the years went on it started to become a case of ‘so...about university’ and I think they were slightly concerned. However, when they realised I was making a living doing something I loved, their concerns eased up and they really opened up to the idea. Last year, they came out to see me compete for the first time and it was one of the proudest moments of my life, and I never knew my mom could get so excited. I even took them away for a trip and taught them how to snowboard, even though both of them was over 50.
Going back a couple of years, you were voted number 58 in Loaded magazines Hot 100 Babes in the world poll. What was that like?
That was insane..What was it all about? I had no idea until my brother rang me and said I was in it so I went and bought the mag and, sure enough, there I was. It was hilarious; everyone else on the page was in bikinis and the pictures were all from proper modelling photo shoots and then there was me, in the middle of a mountain in my snowboard gear with big baggy trousers and my snowboard under my arm. Certainly, it was the oddest thing I have ever seen and I would doubt if I would make their top 100 every again, but it was nice while it lasted.
One has to ask, did you ever use it as a chat up line or to get a free drink?
Haha no, not at all; I probably should of though shouldn’t I? I reckon I never brought it up because I was scared that people would question it.
Jenny Jones rides for Relentless Energy - for more information visit http://www.relentlessenergy.com/