Winter Olympics 2014: A bit of snowboarding grab and tickle, and Jenny Jones takes our first medal on snow: woooaaah yeah!

View from  the sofa: Winter Olympics BBC2

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The Independent Online

Snowboarding is funny. It’s almost as if its inclusion in the Winter Olympics was designed to get the famously touchy Russian leader Vladimir Putin – he of the homophobic laws – hot under the collar. They even have a trick called a backside rodeo, for goodness’ sake.

But on Sunday morning it gave us some of the most exciting and spine-tingling sporting scenes since, well, London 2012. Slopestyle snowboarding may be alien to many viewers, most of whom wouldn’t know a frontside half-cab seven from a triple cork, but there is no doubting it is great fun to watch – with the riders’ colourful get-up, weirdly named tricks and gasp-inducing stunts, all enhanced by the heart-on-sleeve commentary of Ed Leigh and Tim Warwood.

The pair had had time to warm up their patter from the day before the opening ceremony and in the men’s competition they came out with some brilliantly odd phrases. Sample: “That was a grab, I thought it was more of a tickle.” “If he was any smoother he would melt.” “That was a nice little slap there, that would have felt amazing.” The teases.

But when Britain’s Jenny Jones’s turn came on Sunday morning, the pair, joined by Aimee Fuller, a fellow boarder who had missed out on qualification for the final, really let their hair down.


As Jones descended on her final run, you could hear the tension; they were willing her to complete it. “I can feel my pulse in my lower intestine,” Leigh said. Fuller just made noises.

Then the score showed she was in the lead. And the sound engineer would have no doubt winced at the “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! Woooooaaah! Aaaaaaargh!” from the trio. Leigh just managed to convey the score – “87 point... uuaargh yeah!... She’s in the lead, she’s in the lead!!” – while Fuller carried on whooping. It was nothing more than everyone at home would have been doing.

Two riders bettered Jones’s score, but it didn’t dampen the commentators’ enthusiasm, as Jamie Anderson of the USA and Finland’s Enni Rukajarvi completed, in the words of Leigh, “very tidy” runs to occupy the first two medal places.

Then as it became clear that Jones was going to make the podium, bedlam once again ensued. “I think I am going to cry,” Fuller said, sounding exactly like she was about to cry. “You can cry,” Leigh said, reminding everyone that it was the first British medal on snow. It was touching stuff. If only all commentators were as enthusiastic.

There were more tears as Jones was interviewed – by Matthew Pinsent, of all people – and she was charmingly natural. “It feels amazing, I can’t believe it,” she gasped in between sobs of joy. Then when Pinsent surprised her with her parents it was goose-bump time for us all again.

Her mother was hilarious as she trespassed into the media area, all the while saying: “We won’t tell anybody.” “Mum, you’re on the telly,” Jones said, before describing her as “so northern” to Pinsent. “You’re allowed to,” the former rower said about Mrs Jones’s transgressions. And you know what? Even if she wasn’t, nobody would really have minded. Maybe not even Putin.