The title says it all for my birthday week column. Followed up with the Rigby snowboarder about her recovery from surgery and making the podium at Mammoth Mountain last week.
The Medal Stand: Catching up with Jessika Jenson
Last week’s Grand Prix stop at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., resulted in much more than a podium appearance for Rigby slopestyle snowboarder Jessika Jenson.
It was also her first competition since undergoing surgery in September to repair frayed cartilage in her knee. While the 2014 U.S. Olympian said she isn’t back to 100 percent, she said taking second gave her confidence.
“I definitely felt rusty returning back to the snow,” Jenson said in a phone interview from Breckenridge, Colo., on Wednesday. “I worked really hard since I was cleared to go on snow. I got my tricks back pretty fast. I feel strong.”
The athletes also dealt with ever-changing weather, losing their first day of practice due to heavy snowfall and wind. The competition schedule ultimately changed, replacing women’s slopestyle qualifications with two runs to determine the podium. Athletes from eight nations competed and Jenson was the top American placer.
“I’ve never been so unprepared for a competition before,” Jenson said. “I was able to pick a decent run to make the podium. I was excited about that.”
Jenson was also excited to compete in front of her parents Kevin and Natalie and younger sister Ashley, who traveled from Rigby to watch her.
“They always bring me good luck,” Jenson said with a laugh.
Jenson’s schedule picks up next month, highlighted by her first trip to Asia as the U.S. team will travel to a World Cup stop in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics, from Feb. 15-22. A few days before departing, however, she will compete at the Polartec Big Air event at Fenway Park in Boston from Feb. 11-12.
The event has drawn much publicity since the announcement was made in September.
“I’m really looking forward to that,” Jenson said. “I’ve never done a big air event on scaffolding.”
Coming up locally
The fifth annual Teton Valley Great Snow Fest continues through Sunday in Driggs, Victor, Tetonia and Grand Targhee Resort. Scheduled events range from Nordic ski races, fat bike clinics, ice skating, hockey and snow sculptures.
This weekend is Idaho Falls Ski Club weekend at Grand Targhee. The resort also hosts an IFSA freeskiing competition for collegiate skiers from Friday to Sunday.
Kelly Canyon will host a snowboard cross event Saturday as part of the inaugural “Kelly Games.” Registration is from 10 a.m. to noon followed by practice. Competition begins at 1 p.m.
The annual Sun Valley Nordic Festival begins Friday and continues through Feb. 7. Events include fat bike races, snowshoe tours, Nordic sprint races and the 41st annual Boulder Mountain Tour at Harriman Trail.
Team USA update
Los Angeles 2024 bid organizers revealed plans Monday afternoon to make UCLA’s residence halls its Olympic Village and USC’s campus as its Media Village if the city wins the International Olympic Committee’s vote next year to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Rome, Paris and Budapest are also 2024 candidate cities.
The Winter X Games begin today and continue through Sunday at Aspen, Colo. The stacked field of competitors includes Mark McMorris, Hannah Teter, Kelly Clark, Iouri “iPod” Podladtchikov, Sage Kotsenburg, Torah Bright, David Wise, 15-year-old Chloe Kim and Driggs native Tucker Hibbert.