SOCHI, Russia -- After finishing college, Jenny Jones worked in the French Alps as a chalet maid, using the unglamorous position as an opportunity to snowboard in her free time.
It was a move that paid off in the long run.
Now the 33-year-old from Bristol, England, is an Olympic bronze medalist in snowboard slopestyle, a sport that only received recognition by the International Olympic Committee in 2013. She has come a long way since her days in France, and has since become the first Brit to win a medal in a snow sport.
“I absolutely did not think I would ever be in this position back then when I was a chalet maid. I was cooking breakfast, cleaning toilets,” Jones said.
“I was having a great time -- I was snowboarding every day and that was amazing.
“But it was just about snowboarding. It’s always about snowboarding – just enjoying your sport.”
Such enthusiasm for the sport helped thrust her into the international spotlight on Sunday afternoon. Jones dazzled a spirited crowd in her first run at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, finishing with a score of 87.25 and the best record entering the final run. The score was good enough to earn the bronze by just 0.25 race points.
Her story is one of the more inspiring ones of the 2014 Winter Olympics. In December, she suffered a severe concussion in a training crash in Austria, and it took her several weeks to return to the snow. She has also suffered through a series of ankle injuries over her career.
“It’s definitely been a rollercoaster in the last few years with challenges and injuries,” she said.
But Jones is not a true underdog story. She entered the Sochi Games with a highly accomplished slopestyle track record at the Winter X Games. She had won two gold medals at the Winter X Games in 2009 and 2010, and one at the Winter X Games Europe in 2010 in Tignes, France, the same town she served as a chalet maid.
Jones asserted that she is proud of both her Olympic and X Games medals. It seems logical to promote the sport's events outside of the Olympics as slopestyle continues to grow, much like the X Games. Jones is one of a handful of ambassadors for slopestyle, which has to compete against numerous other individual sports that own a cult following.
The sport is particularly daring, as it involves executing high-flying tricks down a slope and along a series of ramps. It takes a certain type of athlete to gravitate to such aerial and risky maneuvering, so it might come as some surprise that Jones has a very jovial and relaxed personality. After winning her medal, she giggled while talking to the BBC.
A new status awaits the former bar employee and cardboard factory worker. Jones is expected to return to England a sports hero, and one that may perhaps inspire other Brits to consider her path to stardom.
One English couple made the trek from Turkey for a few days just to see Jones perform. Mike Moir describes himself as a slopestyle enthusiast, and made an effort to get to the Mountain Cluster just to see Jones. Moir was just one of dozens of Brits to witness firsthand how Jones made Great Britain snow sport history.
Jones even found another couple interested in her slopestyle career: her parents.
While Jones left the onus on Helen and Pete to watch her compete in Sochi or from home, she said she didn’t want to know if they were in attendance. They sent text messages in support, but surprised her at the end of the competition, much to her jubilation.
"They kept it quite quiet from me," Jones said.
At 33, she is an elder statesman in slopestyle, as many of the competitors are in their teens and early 20s. That doesn’t mean Jones is ready to hang up her board anytime soon.
“I’ll keep snowboarding,” said Jones. “I definitely have a few more years left in me.”