A Catch Up with Jenny Jones
Olympic bronze-medal winning snowboarder Jenny Jones visited Niseko recently to run the Japan leg of her 'Workshop By Jenny Jones' program. We caught up with her for a chat!
Experience Niseko (EN): Welcome back to Niseko, Jenny. What keeps you coming back?
Jenny Jones (JJ): Thank you! It's so good to be back, Niseko simply doesn’t compare to other ski resorts anywhere in the world. It’s completely different to the type of snow I ride elsewhere, there is just something about Niseko that I love.
The snow is better, the atmosphere on and off the mountain, the scenery, the trees. It’s all just beautiful.
EN: What would you say to somebody thinking about coming to Niseko for a ski holiday?
JJ: Don’t even think twice! Once you visit for the first time you will ask yourself, ‘why haven’t I done this until now!?’, then you will come back time and time again.
Oh, and stay at Skye Niseko. It's a brand new ski-in ski-out hotel which was above and beyond anything I was expecting. The decor, the style, so beautifully designed and the service is amazing.
EN: Did you get a chance to check out any bars and restaurants? Any favourites?
JJ: Yes! We went to Jam Bar, I love the atmosphere there, it’s really chilled and the food is good too. Ebisutei is an old favourite so we ate there and it was great. And Kumo Restaurant as well... delish!
EN: Tell us about Workshops By Jenny Jones.
JJ: I set up Workshops By Jenny Jones because I am really passionate about sharing my love of snowboarding with other riders. I do different styles of workshops with intermediate riders looking to take their snowboarding to the next level.
Our workshops include snowboarding everyday but they also have a separate theme. We do a ‘mindset’ workshop which deals with the psychology side of snowboarding. We do a pre-season fitness workshop.
The Japan workshop is focused on riding off-piste, in the backcountry for the first time, and riding Japanese powder.
EN: Why do you choose Japan as a destination for the Workshops?
JJ: I choose Japan because I love taking people here for the first time and watching this new world of snowboarding open up for them. They’re just like ‘wow, this is incredible’. I get a kick out of that.
By making it a week-long, organised workshop it’s more enticing, as we take away the admin, the nervousness and the doubt that comes with booking a ski holiday to a new destination.
EN: What is your coaching style? Are you working one on one with your guests or offering more general advice to the whole group?
JJ: The maximum group size is 8 and the incredible Neil McNair is head coach. He is talented, super experienced and really good at coaching people in different ways to help them improve. I ride with the group and offer tips and advice from my own perspective, both to the group and to the individual so they get the maximum out of every day on the snow.
EN: There is a yoga component to the program – is yoga something you benefited from throughout your career?
JJ: Yes, definitely later in my competitive career. Yoga was so helpful pre-competition or during busy contest schedules physically, but also mentally to calm the mind. There are moments on the mountain where you’re running high on energy, high on adrenaline, and yoga helps offset that rush. My clients really benefit from that balance too.
EN: How important is physical training and conditioning off the snow?
JJ: Super important. We ask our clients to get some off-mountain training sessions in and build a fitness base before the workshop week begins. For myself, I try to get 2-3 months of fitness built up before winter. A solid fitness base is crucial as you’re less motivated to go to the gym after a long day of riding.
EN: If you weren’t a snowboarder, what would you be?
JJ: I love surfing, so I would be doing that as much as I could. If that meant working in a coffee shop next to a surf break, then that’s what I would do.
EN: What has snowboarding taught you?
JJ: Oooh, good question! What has it taught me... Can I tell you what snowboarding has given me?
EN: Of course…
JJ: Snowboarding has given me so many amazing experiences. I’ve been to some incredible mountains, travelled the world and met so many interesting and unique people and I cannot thank snowboarding enough for that.
EN: You took up snowboarding at the relatively late age of 16. Do you find it amazing that you have been so successful at a sport you took up at an age that some others have become world champions?
JJ: Yeah, I think nowadays if I took up the sport at 16-17, I don’t think I would’ve been able to make the world standard in time. People like Chloe Kim from the US, and Leila Iwabuchi, the fantastic Japanese rider, these girls are so young and at the very top of the game. It’s amazing to watch these girls!
EN: What have you seen change in snowboarding in the last 10-15 years?
JJ: I’ve seen slopestyle come in to the Olympics which is great. For me that was so exciting because it gave me an opportunity to represent my country which I’d never been able to do before.
It has become so much more than just one sport. Snowboarding is split in to so many different avenues now, especially in the last few years. So many snowboarders are specializing and pushing boundaries now. Carving, riding with no bindings, touring, hiking, splitboarding, street snowboarding, snowboard cross, slopestyle, it's so diverse.
Japan also has it's own snowsurf style which is super cool, distinct and inspiring.
The sport is also taking people to the most remote and incredible places on Earth. Snowboarders touring the highest mountains in Pakistan, for example. It's insane.
EN: What is the greatest snowboarding trip you’ve done and why?
JJ: A few years ago on a snowboarding trip to Iceland. Incredible.
I went with a group of girls and we were filming for a snowboarding movie. We hiked up to mountains with the most unbelievable views and surroundings, it was just amazing. And the same day we snowboarded down, we went surfing. I’ll never forget this one moment, I watched the best sunset I’ve ever seen, floating in near freezing water in Iceland. That view is ingrained in my brain.
EN: What’s your biggest fear?
JJ: My biggest fear is running out of stoke.
EN: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
JJ: Oooh, Sian the yoga instructor would say it’s gyozas! I can’t get enough of em.
EN: What’s the best way to start the day?
JJ: Stretching, yoga, and a good ol' fashioned British cup of tea!
EN: Thanks so much for chatting with us. We can't wait to welcome you back next year!
Check out our interview with Jenny Jones during her 2016/17 Niseko visit.