Jessica Jenson, a local athlete from Rigby, Idaho, has qualified to represent the United States in the slopestyle snowboarding category in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
According to he United States Sports Academy (USSA) only Best in the World athletes will represent the USA. The USSA opened five spots on the slopestyle snowboarding for these Olympic games. The spots include three men and two women. Jenson claimed one of these five spots.
According to the USSA, athletes that desire to represent USA need to score selections points, based on their results in each selection event, using the International Ski Federation World Cup point scoring system (1,000 point scale.)
Watching the halfpipe at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah on her TV was one of the things that made Jenson have a dream to one day represent the United States, she said. Jenson said she learned how to ski at the age of six.
“My parents and I would go up to Kelly Canyon every weekend as my grandma’ worked at the ski resort and got us free season passes,” she said. At the age of 10, Jenson said, she decided to switch to snowboarding and she has never gone back to her skis.
“There was something about snowboarding that I loved,” she said. “I remember watching Hannah Teter do her run and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I just dreamed of being in her footsteps and how neat it would be to represent our country in the fun sport of snowboarding.” There are different people whom Jenson admires for their styles and for how good of athletes they are, but Torah Bright, an Olympic gold medalist in halfpipe style, has been her main influence.
“She is a proud LDS snowboarder, just like me. It’s not easy being LDS in the snowboarding industry, let alone it is very uncommon,” Janson said. “There’s a lot of peer pressure, but I always stand up for what I believe in.”
Following her dream has not been easy, Jenson said. She has had multiple injuries in her snowboarding career. “When I was 16 I nearly knocked my 4 bottom teeth out at Kelly Canyon on New Year’s Day,” Jenson said.
Jenson, who thrive on adrenaline, said that her passion is snowboarding, but whenever she’s not in the snow she likes to do outdoors activities and also sewing her own line of hand made neck warmers.
“My hobbies are wakeboarding, dirt biking, mountain biking, working out, jumping on tramps, and sewing,” she said. Jenson, who feels every one should have a dream and never be afraid of it, said that all it takes is to love what you do and have fun doing it.
“Like my coach, Bill Enos, says have fun. To get this far in any sport you have to love what you do. The more hard work you put in the more you will get out,” Jenson said.
Currently, Jenson is a student at Westminster College. She manages to take some online courses because feels education is vital. “College is very important to me as I can’t snowboard forever,” she said.
Snowboarding entered the Olympics in Nagano, Japan in 1998 where giant slalom and halfpipe were the only two disciplines included. Parallel giant slalom events for men and women joined the Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002 and in February 2013, the Executive Board of the Olympic Committee approved ski and snowboard slopestyle as official events in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
“Being able to represent your country in the Olympics, in the first slopestyle event, is such a huge honor and privilege. Since I made it this far, why not shoot for the gold,” Jenson said.
Enthusiastic and optimist, Jessica Jenson expects to show the public what the sport of slopestyle snowboarding has to offer. She will put her best performance and will well represent USA.
“Most importantly, I am going to have the time of my life and enjoy every moment,” she concluded.
This story was published in the Scroll newspaper