Rigby was jumping last night as two-time Winter Olympic snowboarder Jessika Jenson returned home. She had a police escort, an autograph line, a question and answer session and fireworks. I especially loved the response to a question about curling: “I don’t really understand curling. I should brush up on that.” She was asked about training for 2022 and shared she is undecided on pursuing a third Olympic Games.
Several of her family members were in attendance, including her grandparents, parents and sister. Jenson returned early Monday morning from Pyeongchang.
Here is my story with photos from John.
Jessika Jenson poses for a photo with Haylee Smith, 7, and Cheznee Smith, 10, during the homecoming for the Olympic snowboarder at Rigby High School on Wednesday, February 28, 2018. John Roark/ email@example.com
Jenson returns to hero’s welcome in Rigby
By MARLOWE HEREFORD
RIGBY—“What’s up, Rigby?”
Those opening remarks from two-time Olympic snowboarder Jessika Jenson drew thunderous applause and cheers in the Rigby High School commons that resembled more of a convention center on Wednesday evening. The 2009 Rigby graduate who placed fifth in women’s slopestyle and 11th in women’s big air at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, was the guest of honor in an evening full of homecoming festivities, including a motorcade and photos and autographs at Rigby High School.
“It really is like Hollywood comes to Rigby,” Jessika said with a laugh. “I had the best time of my life in Pyeongchang. I just can’t thank the community enough for their support. It’s surreal.”
The turnout—as well as the first class treatment—was astounding to Jenson and her parents, Kevin and Natalie, and younger sister, Ashley, a 16 year-old Rigby High student. Numerous police cars as well as EMT vehicles escorted the Jensons, riding in a white stretch limo, with lights flashing and sirens blazing to a Rigby High School parking lot full of cars.
“I wish I was this famous,” Ashley said with a laugh. “I had no idea this many people would come. She deserves it, though.”
Jessika Jenson speaks with fans during a homecoming for the Olympic snowboarder at Rigby High School on Wednesday, February 28, 2018. John Roark/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Decked out in her official Team USA gear, Jenson participated in a question and answer session upon arrival at the high school. Several members of the audience ranging from young children to adults participated.
Some questions pertained to the 2018 Olympics such as “Did you get to meet the U.S. women’s hockey players?” (“Yes. Those girls are super inspiring. I got to walk with them in the closing ceremony. We also got to take them snowboarding.)” and “did you have a chance to watch men’s curling?” (“I didn’t get to watch curling. I did meet some of the players. I don’t really understand curling. I should brush up on that.”)
Some questions not pertaining to the Games that were on the more serious side were “who is your hero?” to which Jenson replied, “I look up to so many people. My mom and dad, (Australian Olympic snowboarder) Torah Bright. Everyone is kind of a hero in my eyes.” Others were lighthearted, such as “have you ever broken a snowboard?” to which Jenson said yes, and recently.
“I broke it before big air qualifiers,” Jenson said. “I have to bring two snowboards with me because I usually break one of them.”
A few members of the audience didn’t ask a question but instead thanked Jenson, including a woman who said, “I had a dream to ski until I’m 80 and I made it,” to which Jenson replied, “I hope I’m snowboarding when I’m 80.”
Jessika Jenson watches fireworks during the homecoming for the Olympic snowboarder at Rigby High School on Wednesday, February 28, 2018. John Roark/ email@example.com
One person also asked something likely on the minds of several people in the room, and that was if she planned to train for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China. Jenson said devoting four years toward a third Olympic team is a big investment and she will decide this year if she wants to pursue that route or focus on finishing her college education.
Photos and autographs took place after the question and answer session, as adults, teenagers and young families alike formed a line to meet Jenson. The two-time Olympian took several minutes to speak with each person, including the shyest of young admirers.
“I think that’s Jessika’s favorite thing is seeing little kids look up to her,” Natalie said with a smile.
Wednesday was the first big event on Jenson’s schedule since arriving home from Pyeongchang early Monday morning, as she has spent much of her time adjusting to the time change and in various stages of unpacking.
“Our place looks like a tornado hit it since she came home,” Kevin said with a laugh. “She slept a lot today.”
Jenson said she has a bit of a break after what has been a whirlwind season of qualifying for and competing for the U.S. Olympic team, and she is still deciding whether she wants to compete in some upcoming World Cup events or snowboard for fun. Regardless of her decision, her sister and parents said they are glad to have her home after watching her from afar on NBC.
“This journey has been so amazing for her,” Kevin said.