Q&A: Olympic Medalist Jenny Jones on Skye Niseko and Japow
We sit down with Jenny Jones and find out what is so special about Niseko that keeps her coming back.
Hi Jenny! We are so glad to welcome you back to Niseko again. How many times have you travelled to the Powder Capital, Niseko?
Thank you for having me :) I think I have been about four times to Niseko now and I can’t get enough of it.
It seems like this is becoming a home away from home for you in the winter season. What keeps bringing you back to Niseko?
I think I keep coming back because I still have so much to discover as my experience with Japan and riding powder in Niseko came later in my snowboarding career. I still find it such a different adventure everytime I come.
Aside from the amazing quality and depth of snow, there is much to love about Niseko away from the mountain. What are some of your favourite off snow activities?
Of course one of favourite activities is enjoying the variety of Onsens. Especially in Skye Niseko as it has the cold water plunge pool which is soooooo good for recovery. There are so many relaxing onsens in the Niseko area and they are awesome after a day of riding.
I enjoy the various bars and restaurants because of that mixture of traditional, modern, small, quirky and lively. I very much hope that variety stays in Niseko.
You have ridden at many of the great ski resorts around the world. Why would you recommend Niseko to someone looking to go on their first ski holiday?
If it is your very first ski holiday then I think the pistes are great for learning on. The atmosphere is calm and never too busy which is key when you are building your confidence learning to ski or snowboard. There are some great on-piste restaurants to visit and they are easy to access.
The cultural and social aspects off the slopes is also great.
Your ‘Workshop by Jenny Jones’ program has seen you move from a competitor to the role of mentor and coach. Do you enjoy coaching as much as you enjoy riding?
I find coaching very rewarding. To see people progress through the week in their skills and confidence is a good feeling. I think this is partly the reason I enjoy snowboarding still because I am surrounded by people who are eager to progress and we are often exposing them to new experiences which is exciting for them and this energy ultimately rubs off on me.
I will not ride at a high competitive level in slope-style again but an area where I can still progress is in the backcountry and venturing off piste. The powder is different every time you go which is what makes snowboarding such good fun.
More and more new snowboarders come to Niseko each year. What are some of your tips to help beginners stay afloat in the pow?
Oh gosh where do you begin…. Firstly put some set back on your snowboard and tuck your thermal pants in so you keep all the snow out! Make sure you have your basics with good technique on-piste first.
Some key pointers would be: keeping pace/momentum, make smaller adjustments when turning, stay stacked or aligned over your snowboard and keep looking three turns ahead so you can plan your line down, especially through those trees.
Is there anything that beginner snowboarders should be aware of in terms of their clothing or gear?
Complete beginners make sure you get yourself a lesson as a good instructor can have a look at your snowboard set up and make sure your stance width and angles are right for you as everyone is different. I recommend a helmet and warm mittens. Other than this I think the clothing is personal preference. I personally love a pair of dungarees (bib trousers) to keep all the snow out of my pants.
I think surround yourself with other riders who are aiming to progress and are supportive. Don’t be afraid to ask friends for advice or help and taking time out to focus on those areas that you are weaker in. If you do some specific technique practice in those areas and then bring it back into your riding it will improve the overall level of your snowboarding and ultimately increase stoke levels.
Are there any off-snow activities that snowboarders of all levels should be doing to improve their conditioning and skills?
I think pre-season training can be really helpful if you are going for a week, a month or a season. Good to hit key muscle groups: quads, glutes, hamstrings as well your core strength. If you don’t have good core strength you will find you have more back problems.
I like to do morning and evening yoga sessions as it improves my flexibility and range of motion. It reduces stiffness and fatigue in my body which means I can snowboard more often and for longer without having to have as many days off.
Niseko is also home to many high quality riders. What are some of your expert tips for riding powder in Niseko?
Take a moment to challenge yourself with something you wouldn’t usually do, be it a different line down your favourite run, a pillow drop, a completely different area of the mountain or a new hike. Mainly keep enjoying that feeling of riding fresh powder.
We can see there is heavy focus on mindset in your workshops. Could you explain why this is so important?
I run a snowboard workshop week each year in Europe which includes evening sessions from expert sports psychologist Louise Jones who was a key part of the successes in my competitive career.
I think you can progress your snowboarding both on and off the snow. These evening sessions work on overcoming fears and setbacks, visualisation techniques for learning new tricks and riding challenging lines. The snowboarders who have come on this week have seen improvements in their riding simply from the changes in their mindset.
Can you tell us about your favourite line or moment in Niseko from over the years?
I genuinely enjoy the whole experience, there isn’t one specific moment. I think that’s another reason why I keep coming back.
What is on the horizon for Jenny Jones?
I have two workshops running in March, the mindset course and backcountry course, both in the French alps. I have been covering some great stories this past season for BBC Two Ski Sunday. Some highlights have been split-boarding adventures in Switzerland with the crew from the Snowboarder movie ‘Shelter’ and interviews with Canadian snowboard Olympian Max Parrot and double amputee snowboarder Swifty.
Check out my instagram for links to watch some of these features. There will be more of these types of stories next year which I’ve really enjoyed covering. I then have some fun filming projects later in the season and look forward to planning more snowboard workshop adventures for next winter.
Will we see you back here next year?
I very much hope so! See you soon Niseko!