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Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Updated: March 17, 8:40 PM ET
Jenny Jones: crossing the channel

By Melissa Larsen
ESPN Action Sports

We might be at a snowboard competition in France, but that hasn't stopped half of England from coming out to support its skiers and snowboarders dropping in to the big show. And no one gets more love in Tignes than Winter X Europe defending champion Jenny Jones. Over in the States, however, not a lot is known about Britain's snowboarding pride and joy -- outside of the fact that she's one of the only women to successfully challenge two-time TTR World Snowboard Tour winner Jamie Anderson's dominance in slopestyle. So we thought we'd fill in some blanks.

Let's start at the beginning. How did you get into snowboarding?
Well, first I took a free lesson with my brother on a dry slope, and it was kind of cool, but we didn't really get to do it properly. So I asked my college if we could go on a snowboarding trip, and we went for a week to Italy. That was the first time I was like, "I really like this." I was probably 18 then.

I finished college, and instead of going straight to university, I went to the French Alps and worked as a chalet maid so I could snowboard every day.

Where?
Tignes.

Where the Euro X is? This was where you learned to really ride?
Yeah, it was the first resort I went to. I cleaned rooms and all that sort of thing.

Do you still have friends in Tignes?
I still have friends who work at the Dragon Lodge and the Loop Bar, which is a Welsh pub. There were definitely some folks around last year. There were actually other British supporters that had come from other resorts -- I was super shocked by that. They had their British flags out and everything. It was so cute. It was amazing to win the gold there, because it's a bit like a home resort.

Jenny Jones, mid gold-medal run at Winter X Europe 2010.

So how long after you learned to ride was it that you first started competing?
I did it for five months, working and riding in Tignes. I went to the British Snowboarding Championships. I hitched a ride and bunked on someone's sofa and competed, and I won.

After five months of snowboarding?
Yeah, but there wasn't a huge amount of girls there. There were maybe like eight or 10. Then the next two seasons, I went to Whistler and Vail for a bit for and I competed in the Vans Triple Crown. I did two of those and I won those. I got invited to the X Games. Then I had a knee injury that set me back a year or two. When I got back into it, I started progressing through European comps. I didn't get to come back to the X Games again until four years ago.

You haven't been doing many competitions this year. How come?
Well, I broke my foot skateboarding, so I didn't get back riding until about two weeks before the X Games. It was crazy. I was like, "I don't know if I'm ready for this." I really wanted to do it, though, to defend my title and all that.

I thought you were having a secret adventure in the backcountry or something.
No, [laughs] nothing that exciting. I was just healing up from a stupid foot break.

Injuries can't hold this one back.

Let's talk about your 900s. They look pretty solid.
No, I can land them half the time, and the other half I can't. At X Games, I didn't get to try it until the third run. So I only had one chance to land, and I was like, "This is highly unlikely, but what have I got to lose."

If someone said to me, "Is a 900 in your bag of tricks?" I would say no. But if someone asked, "Are you trying them?" I would say yes. But I can't put them in my bag of tricks yet because I can't land them all the time.

So when you're not competing, are you trying to get the tricks you don't have dialed yet?
I get a genuine kick out of learning a new trick, so I like to stick at it until I eventually get it. If I'm going to a comp, I think about how I would incorporate it into a run. Sometimes I have to force myself in the rails. I kind of enjoy them, but I don't get as much satisfaction as I do riding jumps. And there's tons of UK little shredders who can absolutely whoop my ass on rails. I should go and get some tips from them.

Do you have a lot of support back home?
People in snowboarding give me a lot of support, but people who don't really follow snowboarding wouldn't really know. It's all that soccer and rugby and that sort of thing in England. Not that I mind; it seems like the British media is pretty harsh. I think I'd be quite frightened if they showed interest. It's really nice to be appreciated by snowboarders. Someone might say hey if they see me in the park, and that's pretty cool.

When you're not competing, where do you go?
I'm pretty much just traveling. I like to ride at Breckenridge quite a bit and Mayrhofen in Austria, but I don't have a home mountain. When I go home, I go to Bristol. I have a flat there, and my family and friends live there. I just chill out.