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What might the impact of the medal be?
Sunday February 9, 2014 - Email this article to a friend

Team GB wins its first medal on snow at the Winter Olympics as Jenny Jones takes bronze in the snowboard slopestyle. Is it pivotal moment for snowboarding and UK snowsports, or just a flash in the pan?

Now is perhaps not the time to judge these things.

Hype, wishful thinking and the feel-good factor tend to take over. 

It was a euphoric weekend both for snowboarding in general, and UK snowpsorts in particular, but much excitement and exaggeration happens in the heat of the moment.

Perspective and judgement is often lost.

What we must remember is that it has come about through thoughtful planning and years of preparation.

Not just by Jenny Jones, but the UK sporting authorites.

"We are delighted to see Jenny achieve Olympic success.  Her medal is the result of years of effort from a team of people including great coaching, strength and conditioning and physio support, back office help and most of all years of dedication by Jenny herself," said the CEO of British Ski and Snowboard, Dave Edwards, to PlanetSKI.

"We have been able to provide a targeted Park and Pipe programme thanks to funding from UK Sport, Sir John and Jamie Ritblat and Delancey.  Jenny has worked tirelessly on that programme and thoroughly deserves the success that she has achieved in Sochi.  She has set a great example by winning the first ever Olympic Snowsport medal and we now look forward with great anticipation to the next.  We do not believe it will be 90 years in the making!" he added.

Our British freestyle snowboarders - Jenny Jones, Aimee Fuller, Billy Morgan and Jamie Nicholls - were all over the media and brought smiles to the faces of many millions in the UK last weekend.

The newspapers are celebrating Olympic sporting success once again and it feels rather good. It is on the front pages. Smile

Snow QueenSnow Queen

















It is certainly not London 2012 all over again, but it feels slightly like it for some.

Jenny does her stuffJenny does her stuff











One of our snowboard readers is, James Rowden, a good friend of us at PlanetSKI for many years.

He sums up the feelings of many.

"I was so stoked for Jenny. It was proper emotional viewing and what an incredible achievement for her. A bronze medal at the Winter Olympics!," said James as he punched the air in excitement watching it all on TV back in the UK. 

Go Jenny!Go Jenny!











"This has catapulted snowboarding into the mainstream public eye, which will hopefully result in more funding for the pool of talented, up and coming snowboarders that our country produces," added James.

"This was probably my favourite moment in Olympic history, summer or winter; Jenny is such a great ambassador for snowboarding and it made me so proud to be part of the snowboarding scene," he added.

See here for a PlanetSKI profile of Jenny Jones.

So, is James Rowden right or is he wrong?

Some are talking of a watershed moment, in particular for snowboarding as slopestyle is a new event to the Winter Olympics.

"Today was the day that the establishment fell in love with snowboarding," proclaimed the snowboard magazine, Whitelines, on Saturday after the men's slopestyle event that saw two Brits, Jamie Nicholls and Billy Morgan, make it into the Top Ten.

It had some evidence as Princess Anne came to watch the men's semi-finals at the Extreme Park in Rosa Khator and then stayed for the finals as her diary was hastily re-arranged to accommodate her wishes.

The new IOC President, Thomas Bach, added his sign of approval.

"It looks very spectacular. I just met the three medalists and they are cool guys. They found it cool and now they wait for the party. When you win you have party," said the German man in a suit.

You can't get more establishment than those two figures.

Jamie Nicholls has added his thoughts.

"I was famous in snowboarding already but now it seems like everyone in the UK is speaking about me and Billy Morgan. I hope this inspires kids and really helps the profile of snowboarding," said Jamie Nicholls.

For some people it is a sign that snowboarding has come of age, while for others that it has sold out.

The display over the weekend, as we watched it unfold, indicated the former.

Taking away the British involvement in the men's final and medal excitement from the women's event, it was a master class of taking a product on to the world stage and re-branding it.

Snowboarding is in global decline and the new Olympic event of snowboard slopestyle may have done something to redress this.

"The riding was amazing, the athletes looked great and the atmosphere was electric," said the PlanetSKI content editor, James Cove, as he watched it all unfold. "I am too old to do a tail grab let alone a frontside 720, which I am told is what Jenny finished with, but I wish I wasn't."

The blue ribband event of The Games, the Men's Downhill that took place on Sunday, seemed rather tame in comparison - though the Austrians who were victorious, and many others, would disagree.

There was seemingly little atmosphere at the course in comparison.

Great for the afficionadoes like us at PlanetSKI, but sadly perhaps of dwindling interest for others without a direct connection to the sport.

Slopestyle provided a better TV experience to the uncommitted television viewer - both with the camera angles of the event and our ability to actually see the athletes taking part and identify with them.

The downhill was delayed by 15 minutes due to a lift failure and all we had was presenters filling time; at the slopestyle an athlete had to climb back up to the start gate after a false-start and we saw it all on live TV.

It was compulsive and engaging viewing.

Anna Gasser's slip upAnna Gasser's slip up











Watch the moment here on the BBC

The BBC commentary at the slopestyle was in a class of its own with enthusiasm, passion and even tears.

It was brilliant, though somewhat partisan and inclusive, and that may have upset some of the old-school practioners of the art.

"He's done a Buzz Aldrin ... A safe landing "

"Switch is like writing with your left hand, while being attacked by seagulls."

"She landed that like she had slugs in her knickers"

"She's got a smile that would make a hen's eggs hatch"

300 people have complained to the BBC, especially when one of the commentators cheered as a rival fell over to allow Jenny Jones to win bronze.

Perhaps partisan?Perhaps partisan?











The BBC has issued a statement.

"This was a truly historic occasion for Team GB and the commentary team were understandably very excited. However we acknowledge that on occasion this excitement got the better of them and this is something that we will work on for future events," said the statement.

Well, here at PlanetSKI we loved it.

As the BBC highlights programmme started on Sunday night it described the Downhill as "old and traditional".

We don't agree with that view, but we do think the TV coverage of it needs an injection of originality.

The athletes need to be more accessible to the viewer, the drama of the event needs to be told and a presenter skiing down the course with a camera, albeit skilfully, seems a somewhat tired format.

The kickers on the slopestyle course looked genuinely fearsome, while the jumps on the downhill course looked like bumps - which they most certainly are not. Especially when hit at speed on the edge of a ski.

It hasn't really changed in decades.

The TV coverage of snowboard slopestyle was in a dfferent league.

"Jenny's win will no doubt mean that some people who wouldn't have tried snowboarding will now give it a go. Which is great. It also gives legitimacy to the sport - not that it really craved it - but it's nice to get for snowboarding," said the snowboard journalist, Chris Moran. 

He has known Jenny for 15 years and ridden with her on many occasions.

"I think the commentary team from the BBC - Tim Warwood and Ed Leigh, and then joined by Aimee Fuller for the Girls' finals, was great. Sure, it stirred up some controversy, but it was a burst of authentic, snowboard energy into The Games and they represented the snowboard community in a very authentic way." 

Others have also praised Jenny and her team.

"Along with the rest of the snowsports community I'm feeling incredibly proud of what Jenny and our snowboard athletes have achieved hopefully inspiring a new generation," said Stu Brass who has backed Jenny Jones since the early days and is part of her management team.

The Chef de Mission of the Team GB, Mike Hay, also praised Jenny Jones and her contribution.

"This is a fantastic accomplishment for Jenny and a great moment for our entire delegation. Jenny will go down in the record books as the first-ever member of Team GB to win an Olympic medal in a snow sport.  There is a strong spirit of camaraderie and support across our entire delegation, and I know every member of Team GB is proud of Jenny and delighted to see her have this special moment," said Mike Hay.

So, what does it all mean for the future?

There will be an impact on the rest of Team GB at Sochi.

"It was incredible, there's a really good vibe in the Team GB camp and I think it's really uplifted the whole team. We're really proud," said the skeleton athlete, Shelley Rudman.

Her fellow skeleton athlete, Lizzy Yarnold, was watching it all unfold in the Rosa Khator Extreme Park.

"I was at the slopestyle and I was in awe. It brought tears to my eyes. It's what we train every day for."

What affect will it have for the UK freestylers - both skiers and snowboarders?

We reported on it yesterday towards the end of this story on PlanetSKI.

One interesting person to hear from is the woman herself, Jenny Jones.

"I really hope that getting the bronze medal has pumped a few people up. I know the freestyle skiing girls were stoked and were all smiles and screams. In the next few days I'm looking forward to supporting those guys. And I'm really excited to see Woodsy and Katie Summerhayes in the ski version of my event. Hopefully it's game on for those guys now."

We will find out later this week.

In the meantime we are left, on Monday, asking whether it will all pass like a Monday morning hangover and the weekend will just become a distant and happy memory.

Or is this the start of things to come - for snowboarding, freestyle and Team GB?

Only time will tell.

Shape of things to come?Shape of things to come?









For the spirit of the mountains

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