'Downton Abbey' viewing calms snowboarder on way to winning Britain's first Olympic medal on snow

Jeff Passan
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'Downton Abbey' viewing calms snowboarder on way to winning Britain's first Olympic medal on snow

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – To calm herself the night before she made history by winning Great Britain's first medal on snow, slopestyle snowboarder Jenny Jones partook of a guilty pleasure uniquely British.

"Actually, last night I watched 'Downton Abbey,' " she said.

[Related: Hippy Anderson stays calm for Sochi gold]

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Jones laughed, the sort of chuckle due someone whose performance shocked not only her country but herself. The oldest competitor in the field at 33, Jones eked out a bronze medal with a second-run score of 87.25 in the inaugural slopestyle competition at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, beating Swiss rider Sina Candrian by one-quarter of a point despite Candrian landing a 1080-degree jump.

"I'm just very pleased," Jones said. "So, so surprised right now still at what's just happened. And I can't believe that I made it onto the podium."

[Photos: Olympic crush – Jamie Anderson]

Jones stood alongside the United States' Jamie Anderson (gold) and Finland's Enni Rukajarvi (silver), both of whom topped Jones' score on their second runs. Both also happen to come from countries with rich snowboarding backgrounds. Jones had anything but.

She started snowboarding in her late teens at Churchill dry slope, one of Great Britain's many slopes without snow. Made of synthetic material meant to mimic snow, they tend not to breed scores of world-class riders in skiing or snowboarding. Jones proved the exception, absconding from her home near Bristol, England, to France, where continued repetitions allowed her to capture X Games slopestyle gold in 2009 and 2010.

And now she'll return to England a sporting hero in a place that reveres them perhaps like no other, with a bronze medal around her neck. The Crawleys would be proud.

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