ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Snowboarder Jenny Jones secured Britain’s first-ever Olympic medal on snow on Sunday when the 33-year-old took bronze in a nerve-shredding slopestyle final.
“It’s ridiculous! That’s me! That’s me! From Bristol!,” a jubilant Jones told reporters when informed of her feat.
American Jamie Anderson took gold with a mighty 95.25 with Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi was second on 92.50 but nobody else was able to dislodge Jones from her podium spot.
The British bronze medal winner’s snowboarding odyssey has taken her from an inauspicious start on a dry slope in Churchill to an Olympic podium finish.
“I started snowboarding when I was about 16, 17, at Churchill Dry Slope. I had my first half-hour lesson with my brothers,” she told a news conference.
“I didn’t learn much but I enjoyed it. I decided to go and work as a chalet maid so that I could snowboard more often.”
The start of her career was a lonely time, with few British team mates on the circuit.
“When I first started, there wasn’t a lot of us so I would travel a lot with other nationalities and hang out with other girls from other parts of Europe, but gradually there’s been an increase in British riders.”
Jones says the sport has changed considerably since then, not least in Britain, and predicted a bright future after her bronze breakthrough.
“We’ve got some great talent coming through, and it feels really nice to see that strong force from the British side of things.”
In a tense final full of thrills and spills - including a helmet cracked in a heavy crash by Czech Sarka Pancochova - Jones, second on the start list, made a beautifully clean second run to move into the lead with a score of 87.25.
She then faced an agonising wait as she watched the next 10 competitors try to take it away from her.
“It was so difficult waiting. I thought I did my best run and landed it as best as I could,” she said.
“It was very much about clean landings, no hands down and grabs,” she said as she described her medal-winning run.
“I guess we started to see that that was what they (the judges) were after. It was important to do everything as best as you probably could.”
All Britain’s previous Winter Olympic medals have come in events such as figure skating, bobsleigh and skeleton. Alain Baxter did win a bronze in the men’s slalom in the 2002 Games but he was stripped of the medal for a doping offence.
Editing by Ed Osmond