Here is my latest story on Rigby snowboarder Jessika Jenson from today’s paper. Meant to have this publish sooner, but other assignments my colleague and I were working on held it up. It was good to check in with Jessika before another whirlwind season gets into full swing. She left yesterday to join her U.S. teammates in Europe for a training camp. It is so bizarre to think that this time four years ago, she was prepping for the 2014 Olympic season and ended up becoming a member of the inaugural U.S. Olympic slopestyle snowboarding team and eastern Idaho’s first Winter Olympian since Margo Walters-McDonald in 1964. Now Pyeongchang 2018 is exactly four months away from tomorrow and big air–Jessika’s other discipline–is making its Olympic debut. These last six years covering her have been an adventure.
As was true for the 2013-14 season, I will keep tabs on Jessika throughout the 2017-18 season. Bring on winter.
Ready for round two: Rigby’s Jenson vying to make her second winter Olympic team
By MARLOWE HEREFORD
This time four years ago, Rigby snowboarder Jessika Jenson was preparing for the final stretch of qualifying events for the inaugural U.S. Olympic slopestyle snowboarding team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Four years later, the 2009 Rigby High School graduate and eastern Idaho’s first Winter Olympian since Rexburg native and 1964 Olympic skiier Margo Walters McDonald of Rexburg is vying to make her second Olympic team. The 2018 Winter Olympics are four months from Monday, scheduled to begin February 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“I can’t believe four years has gone by this fast,” Jenson said in a phone interview with the Post Register.
The qualification process for slopestyle snowboard was brand new for 2014, the year the sport made its Olympic debut. Athletes competed in designated Olympic qualifier events and acquired FIS World Cup points based on how they placed. The higher the finish, the more FIS World Cup points the athlete received. By the same notion, the more points a particular nation accumulated through Olympic qualifiers, the more likely that nation could send the maximum number of allotted athletes in that discipline to the Olympics. This was true for the U.S. in 2014. Four was the maximum number, and Jenson was one of those four women to compete in Sochi.
The 2018 qualifying process has been tweaked due to the addition of another discipline which makes its Olympic debut in Pyeongchang: big air. Jenson has competed in both slopestyle and big air since 2015, including at the Big Air Fenway event in Boston in February 2016, and the discipline will be a factor in who makes the 2018 U.S. Olympic snowboarding team. One 2018 Olympic qualifier happened during the 2016-17 season at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., and the four remaining qualifiers are scheduled between December and January. An athlete’s top two best finishes from all of their Olympic qualifiers will be used to determine who makes the team.
“From my understanding, if we have four Americans in the top FIS world rankings by the time (qualifiers) are all over with in January, we can send four girls,” Jenson said. “Whoever goes for slopestyle also goes for big air.”
Jenson enjoys both disciplines for different reasons. Elements are more the focus for slopestyle, which usually has three jumps and three rails in a course. Big air is one big jump, which Jenson said makes it great for spectators and athletes alike.
“What I like about big air is you have less features to focus on,” Jenson said. “It’s super fun to be able to put down your best trick and hopefully move on to finals where you put down your two best tricks.”