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Jones, according to her brother David, “really took to it” and so, before heading off to Exeter University as planned, she decided to take a gap year to work as a chalet girl in Tignes, France, and perfect her boarding technique. “Jenny is the last person to tell you how good she is.
Dressed as Wonder Woman, a golden tiara on her head and red cape around her tiny shoulders, she has the same tousled blonde hair and sports the same dazzling grin that lit up TV screens on Sunday. ” Jones whooped, as she learnt that she had made the medal table, with her nearly flawless combination of jumps and tricks in the Sochi snow.
Thirty years later, our Wonder Woman has made history at the Winter Olympics, winning bronze in the women’s snowboarding slopestyle event. She was so delighted, so adorably awestruck by what she had achieved, that she was reduced to a fit of giggles – which promptly turned to tears when she realised that her parents had flown out from the UK to surprise her.
Not only was it Britain’s first medal of the Sochi Games, but the nation’s only ever medal on snow – and, at 33, she was the oldest in the competition. Jones appeared on the front pages of six national newspapers on Monday – not bad for a girl who didn’t set foot on a snowboard until she was 17.
She’s been competing in international championships since 1999, but her rise to the top has been far from conventional.
So just how did this one-time chalet girl, doughnut seller and factory worker from a quiet suburb of Bristol become Team GB’s “snow angel”?
Born in 1980 to Helen, a midwife, and Peter, a retired fireman, Jones was always “the baby” of her family.
A tomboy (there is a photograph of her, aged four, looking distinctly displeased to be sporting a polka‑dot dress and pigtails tied with pink ribbons), she grew up playing with her two older brothers, Sam, now 38, and David, 35.
At school she was sporty, competing in the 400m, long jump and cross-country events, and a talented gymnast, taking part in the South West England championships.
“She was a good gymnast, but a bit bored with the regimentation,” her father, Peter, told The Daily Telegraph.