Jones earns first medal for Team GB
Published 09/02/2014 | 14:42
Jenny Jones got Great Britain's quest for medals at Sochi 2014 up and running on Sunday with a bronze in the women's snowboard slopestyle.
Bristol-born Jones, at 33, was the oldest entrant in the final but her experience shone through as she produced her best run of the week with her last attempt to chalk up a second-run score of 87.25.
That briefly put her top of the standings and although she was overtaken by Finland's Enni Rukajarvi (92.50), who took silver, and gold medallist Jamie Anderson (95.25), she hung on to bronze after an agonising wait while the the final two finalists completed their second runs.
Jones, who was making her Olympics debut, had claimed Britain's first medal on snow at a winter Olympics - Alain Baxter having been stripped of his skiing bronze from Salt Lake City 2002 for an alleged doping offence.
Jones was considered a medal chance at the first ever snowboard slopestyle event but her hopes appeared slim after she failed to qualify automatically for the final on Thursday.
She earned her route to the showpiece event with a third-place finish in the semi-final on Sunday morning.
She was fifth after the first run in the final, but then a clean, near flawless, second attempt gave her a genuine chance of a medal.
Jones was the second competitor to come out for the 12-person final, which meant, after landing her run, she could only watch and wait as her rivals sought to knock her out of the medal places.
"'I knew I was going to drop (from gold medal position) but I didn't know how far," Jones said.
"There were so many more girls. When the last girl went, I just went 'Oh my God, oh my God, I am on the podium'. I am just so happy. I feel absolutely ecstatic, I'm so chuffed to have made it on to that podium.''
Sunday's success is richly deserved for Jones, who exploded on to the scene in 1999 by winning the first of five British Snowboarding Championships.
Jones has gone on to win gold in the prestigious Winter X Games on three occasions, but has had to fund herself by taking a variety of odd jobs, including working in a cardboard factory and a doughnut shop.
''It feels ridiculous, I still can't actually believe it,'' she said. ''I just thought 'Oh my goodness, it's gone my way today', and I couldn't be more grateful.''
Jones wrote another a bit of history with the timing of her bronze win. Landing it on day two meant it was also Britain's quickest medal at a winter Games, beating a bobsleigh gold on day four of at Innsbruck (1964).
While Jones was savouring her medal exploits, British team-mate Callum Smith finished 62nd in the men's Skiathlon at the Laura Cross Country Ski and Biathlon Center.
Smith, who was the fifth youngest athlete in the field for the 30k event, clocked a time of 1:17:37.1hours.
"My race was pretty tough," said Smith. "It was okay but maybe not my best performance ever. I started off pretty hard and I think maybe that was a little bit of a mistake. I was therefore pretty tired for the last 10km.
"I was just trying to stick with the leaders for as long as I could. I was isolated for a while but I don't think that makes it harder. You can ski at your own rhythm a bit.
"I would have definitely have liked to have been in the top 60. It was certainly not a bad race, it just wasn't my best."