Southeast Idaho woman competes for 2018 Winter Olympics

Photo Credit: Sarah Brunson

RIGBY, Idaho — A Rigby woman is competing for her spot on Team U.S.A. at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang County, South Korea.

JessiKa Jenson has been snowboarding since she was 10 and says she grew up riding at Kelley Canyon Ski Resort in southeast Idaho, a hobby she would later take to bigger slopes across the country.

“I just started doing local contests,” JessiKa Jenson, a professional snowboarder, told KID Newsradio. “[I] started doing the USASA series at age 16, got to go to nationals that year and that kind of…made me realize I had some talent in snowboarding and after watching the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, it’s always been a dream of mine to represent Team U.S.A. in snowboarding.”

After competing in the Olympic Qualifiers in Aspen, Colorado, one of five opportunities to make the team, Jenson says she’s one step closer to making that dream come true. But, getting this far hasn’t been easy, Jenson says. Snowboarding, like any other sport, takes intense training and practice, both mentally and physically.

“It’s like a four year investment to go the Olympics,” Jenson said. “You have to constantly train and you know, the harder you work, the more you’re going to get out of it and you know, I’ve been working really hard these last four years. It’s really tough to go the Olympics in snowboarding slope style.”

As if the personal training isn’t enough, Jenson says the competition is tight, especially in the women’s division of snowboarding.

“We have one of the strongest field of riders,” Jenson said. “If I were to go for any other nation, I could probably go to the Olympics very easy, but we just have so many good riders. I think we will be the only nation that will send four girls, just because it’s so heavy.”

Still, Jenson says she doesn’t let the odds or the competition get in her head. Part of her mental preparation is just letting go of what’s possible and just completing a good run.

“What works for me is I go up there, before I drop in, I visualize my run, I take some deep breaths to calm me down and relax me, help with the anxiety and then,” Jenson.

Jenson says her greatest tool is keeping perspective and maintaining gratitude for how far she’s gotten.

“It is really cool to even make it this far in the Olympic qualifiers and not a lot of people have that opportunity to pursue their dreams,” Jenson said. “You just kind of have to take a moment and just realize how it cool it is to be in your position and to go out there and just do your best, that’s all you can do, and just have fun with it and enjoy the moment.”