Jenny Jones is Britain’s most decorated snowboarder and she has the medal to prove it. Wavelength speaks exclusively to our most successful board sliding Olympian about surfing in Devon, Team GB’s hopeful Peony Knight and the Jamaican Bobsleigh team.
She may have stopped competing but being a sports legend is busy business and on the three year anniversary of her Sochi slopestyle win she lets us in on her surfing roots and a secret love of doughnuts.
WL: As an Olympian, surfing in the Olympics – Good or not?
JJ: It feels a bit similar to the snowboarding story, will it ruin it? Maybe. You do have to start dealing with governing bodies and the IOC and the heavy politics of everything which is never a bonus.
The whole system suddenly becomes all about the training and the process too. When I went to the X Games the first two times there was not a coach in sight. We just went there and snowboarded and that is a great thing.
There are loads of youngsters out there competing that would love to go to an Olympics though, to get that opportunity and share the sport on the global scale.
WL: Do you think surfers should be worried about the Olympics?
JJ: I suppose people just worry that it is going to become too popular and I suppose you could worry that the vibe of surfing might change.
When I surf it is purely for fun, it would always take me away from competing, that is why I love it so much.
So, I actually like to compete in snowboarding but I will always look forward to going surfing because it was not competing, it was not stressful and I like the lifestyle of it, I loved getting in my van driving up the coast. I guess it is weird but it is not about competing for me.
WL: As a surfer as well as a snowboarder where’s your perfect spot?
JJ: One of my favourite places was the Maldives and Sri Lanka was really amazing too, but I love surfing in Devon.
WL: And your Devon secret spot?
JJ: I live in Braunton so I surf around there and then I take road trips as often as possible around the coast. I also went down to Sennen recently it was amazing and so beautiful.
WL: Is there anywhere on your surf bucket list?
JJ: I would like to go back to Costa Rica and a lot of people have talked to me about El Salvador, but I just want to make more time for it really. For the last 10 to 15 years’ winters have taken the lead, but hopefully they can take a bit more of a backseat now and I can go and do more surfing.
WL: So, how does it feel to be the first British Olympian to win a snow sports medal?
JJ: Well it all came flooding back this morning as BBC Breakfast played some video clips and I heard my Mum cheering – I hadn’t watched that for ages.
WL: There were a lot of reports of the Sochi course being dangerous, to be honest some of that looks terrifying and that was after they had fixed them right?
JJ: Yeah they were big jumps, noticeably bigger than anything we had hit that season. Some were about 80ft and it did not leave a lot of room for error.
That is why on that first day a lot of people got injured. But then they they improved them enough that they were ok, but it was pretty daunting because they were so damn big. You only have one shot though, so you just have to crack on with it.
WL: There seemed to be a lot of camaraderie within the team and with all of the competitors. Was that just to do with the people at the time or was it something more than that?
JJ: A lot of these girls have known each other for quite a few years and it is a bit like surfing, you go on a trip and you go on an adventure and you are all together. I do wonder if it is still like that now though or whether it is becoming more teamed based, perhaps there isn’t so much mixing anymore.
WL: So we know you started out working the chalets. Is that still the route to Olympic greatness?
JJ: No I don’t think so, the guys now hook up with snow domes and dry slopes and then go straight into competing.
It was really interesting travelling with some of those younger guys in my last few years of competing, the majority of them had not experienced a season – being a proper seasonaire.
WL: …like drinking too much red wine?
I came home that season and my mum is like ‘ooh you’ve been eating well’. I was like ‘thanks mum’
JJ: Yeah! It’s a rite of passage. Just experiencing it in quite relaxed manner. Having that freedom to just bob about the hill and hike and experience riding a mountain not just the park. Or in my case working in a doughnut shop in Whistler. I came home that season and my mum is like ‘ooh you’ve been eating well’. I was like ‘thanks mum’
WL: I read somewhere that you also had a job inspecting cardboard? What was that all about?
JJ: I think that was when someone was asking me my most horrendous boring job, so, I was trying to make a bit more money as quickly as I could. It was a night shift, and literally, no joke, the cardboard came out of the machine and I had to check that the slits were not too narrow or not too wide, I lasted about a week.
WL: Were you no good at it then?
JJ: No I was fine at it, but the most boring job I ever done. I lasted longer at the doughnut shop.
WL: Beware the donuts! The hits you launched in Sochi were terrifying where do you even start to hit kickers like that?
JJ: You definitely have to build up to it, but, I think you just gradually do it, a little bit bigger, a little bit bigger. It is like you can’t go straight in and surf Jaws. It is exactly the same really. Not that I would surf Jaws or Pipeline.
WL: How do you stay motivated to go big?
JJ: Well I didn’t try snowboarding until I was 17, so I didn’t even strap a board on my feet prior to that, I used to surf more. But I have never had a problem with motivating myself to go snowboarding. I just never thought of snowboarding as training.
Is there a Jenny Jones Cool Runnings film in the pipeline
WL: I know that when you got out to the Olympics a lot of the athletes were shocked to discover that England doesn’t have any mountains. A bit like the Jamaican Bobsleigh team. Is there a Jenny Jones Cool Runnings film in the pipeline?
JJ: Well they made an Eddie the Eagle Film. It would be funny if they put a film like that on, I would love to have a cameo.
WL: Any chance of you popping up at the Olympics again then?
WL: So last question, apart from when we see you presenting what else are you up to now?
JJ: I have been running a series of winter workshops which have been going down really well and have been brilliant fun. They fuse coaching courses, with yoga, nutrition and elements of sport psychology. I’ll still hopefully also be surfing loads as I’m always keen to get into the water as often as possible..
WL: Cool, that is a plan
Jenny will be joining Ticket to Ride’s Cycle Surfari from Bordeaux to Bilbao this September. To join her, or for more information click here.
To find out more what Jenny is up to visit www.workshopbyjennyjones.com