Jones bags breakthrough bronze

Salisbury Journal: Jenny Jones claimed bronze in the women's snowboard slopestyle Jenny Jones claimed bronze in the women's snowboard slopestyle

Jenny Jones launched Great Britain's medals bid at Sochi 2014 on Sunday with a breakthrough bronze in the women's snowboard slopestyle.

It was Britain's first medal on snow at a winter Olympics, Alain Baxter having been stripped of his skiing bronze from Salt Lake City in 2002 for an alleged doping offence.

Bristol-born Jones, at 33 the oldest of the 12 finalists, drew on all her experience to make her final run her best of the Games and was rewarded with a score of 87.25.

That briefly put her top of the standings, and although she was overhauled by Finland's Enni Rukajarvi (92.50), who took silver, and gold medallist Jamie Anderson (95.25), she survived an agonising wait for the final two finalists to complete their runs to clinch bronze on her Olympics debut.

Jones was considered a medal chance at the first ever snowboard slopestyle event, but her hopes appeared slim after she failed to qualify automatically for the final on Thursday. However, she earned her route to the showpiece event with a third-placed finish in the semi-final on Sunday morning.

Jones was lying fifth after the first run in the final, but a near flawless second attempt paved the way for a medal.

Jones was the second competitor down and after landing her run she could only watch and wait.

"'I knew I was going to drop (from gold medal position) but I didn't know how far," Jones said. "There were so many more girls.

"When the last girl went, I just went 'Oh my God, oh my God, I am on the podium'. I am just so happy. I feel absolutely ecstatic, I'm so chuffed to have made it on to that podium.''

The bronze medal was a richly deserved reward for Jones, who exploded on to the scene in 1999 by winning the first of five British Snowboarding Championships.

Jones has gone on to win gold in the prestigious Winter X Games on three occasions, but has had to fund herself by taking a variety of odd jobs, including working in a cardboard factory and a doughnut shop.

''It feels ridiculous, I still can't actually believe it,'' she said. ''I just thought 'Oh my goodness, it's gone my way today', and I couldn't be more grateful.''

Jones wrote another a bit of history with the timing of her bronze win. Landing it on day two meant it was also Britain's quickest medal at a Winter Games, beating a bobsleigh gold on day four of at Innsbruck (1964).

Team GB chef de mission Mike Hay led the tributes to Jones, hailing what he called "a fantastic accomplishment" that represented "a great moment for our entire delegation", and added that the rest of the British team were "proud of Jenny and delighted to see her have this special moment".

Slopestyle team-mate Aimee Fuller tweeted: "Tears of Joy as our girl stomps it and smashes it into 3rd!" and skeleton gold medal favourite Lizzy Yarnold was similarly inspired. She said: "It was so exciting, it brought tears to my eyes."

While Jones was savouring her medal exploits, British team-mate Callum Smith finished 62nd in cross country's men's skiathlon at the Laura Cross Country Ski and Biathlon Center.

Smith, who was the fifth youngest athlete in the field for the 30k event, clocked a time of one hour, 17 minutes and 37.1 seconds.

"My race was pretty tough," said Smith. "It was okay but maybe not my best performance ever. I started off pretty hard and I think maybe that was a little bit of a mistake. I was therefore pretty tired for the last 10km.

"I was just trying to stick with the leaders for as long as I could. I was isolated for a while but I don't think that makes it harder. You can ski at your own rhythm a bit.

"I would have definitely have liked to have been in the top 60. It was certainly not a bad race, it just wasn't my best."

Amanda Lightfoot finished 75th in the women's biathlon 7.5km sprint in a time of 24 mins 48.9 secs with two missed targets in the prone and one in the standing, missing out on her bid for a top 60 finish to qualify for the 10km pursuit.

"I will have a bit more of a build up towards the individual," she said. "I will have a bit more training leading up to it and hopefully it will go really well. I am psyched actually; I can't wait for another race."

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