I had my first face-to-face interview with Rigby snowboarder and 2014 Olympian Jessika Jenson for the first time in a year a couple weeks ago. We spoke about her travels this summer, particularly her trips to Japan and Australia in August, and the upcoming season. Although the countdown to Pyeongchang 2018 is less than 500 days away, the countdown for U.S. Olympic qualifiers is even smaller. I’ll have more in an upcoming feature on Jenson.
The Medal Stand: Offseason nears end for Jenson
As evident by the snow received by Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole resorts this week, winter is not far away.
It is already on the mind of Jessika Jenson, who is in the final weeks of her offseason before rejoining the U.S. snowboarding team on Oct. 27 to begin the 2016-17 season in Austria.
The 2009 Rigby High School graduate and 2014 Olympian competed in four nations within four weeks to end last season and continued her globe trotting over the summer, although at not nearly as grueling of a pace. She and her U.S. teammates trained at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., in May before going to Mt. Hood, Ore., in July and across the Pacific Ocean in August. She visited Japan in early August, participating in airbag training at an indoor facility. Team USA is looking to create its own similar facility in Park City and having the opportunity to train at Japan’s provided some ideas for what the U.S. venue could be like.
“Hopefully by the middle of summer, we’ll have ours,” Jenson said in a Sept. 20 interview with the Post Register. “If they get that opened up, I’ll probably spend my summers and fall there.”
She also did some sightseeing during her first visit to the island nation and also learned a new trick before leaving Japan for Australia. There, the U.S. snowboarders competed in the Mile High, a World Snowboard Tour event at Perisher Resort that drew athletes from seven nations. It was the second consecutive time Jenson competed in the event, and she placed fourth.
Since returning to the U.S. in early September, she has been balancing work and play as her offseason winds down. When she isn’t riding her dirt bike or participating in other outdoor activities with her family and friends, she is in the gym.
“In the offseason, that’s when you try to increase your strength,” Jenson said. “I’m just getting as strong as I can. Coming into this season, I feel better because I’m 100 percent healthy.”
The season is indeed coming fast, and it is a big one. The countdown to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, reached 500 days on Sept. 27 and the first Olympic qualifiers are a few months away. Jenson said a snowboarder’s top two best performances will be taken from the qualifiers, and she anticipates a tighter competition for the 2018 team than the 2014 team.
“Making the U.S. Olympic team is gonna be the hardest team to make in the world, I think,” Jenson said. “They start doing World Cups from now until the Olympics. It’s really important as a team to get four people in the top 24 (at each World Cup).”
Look for a feature on Jenson, her summer and the upcoming season soon.