Jenise Spiteri made her debut at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing as the Maltese snowboarder was in action in the women’s half pipe qualifiers at the Yunding Snow Park, Zhangjiakou City in Beijing.
Malta is best known for its Mediterranean sun but Beijing Olympic snowboarder Jenise Spiteri is on an unlikely mission to get her island nation into winter sports.
The rainbow-haired Spiteri, who was born in California, has Maltese heritage and is the only athlete representing Malta in the Chinese capital.
She has more than 30,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel and said Wednesday she has been up until “four or five in the morning almost every night” updating fans on her Olympic adventure.
“It’s really cool to see the reaction from people,” said the 29-year-old, who finished 21st out of 22 in qualifying for the women’s halfpipe, missing the final.
“I’ve had Maltese people all over the world saying it’s so cool to see a Maltese person competing in snowboarding. It’s been cool to just reach out.”
Spiteri fell on her first run in qualifying but managed to complete her second attempt cleanly.
Her score of 25.25 was well behind defending champion Chloe Kim’s 87.75 in first place.
In between runs, Spiteri reached into her pocket and took a bite of a bean-paste bun that she had forgotten she put there.
“When I was strapping in to drop into that second run I felt in my pocket and had my dumplings in my pocket,” she said.
“I thought having a little bite of it would soften the blow of falling on that run and give me something sweet to enjoy.”
Spiteri, who did not take up snowboarding until she was 18, said she was hoping to inspire sporting late-starters and also promote winter sports in Malta.
“It’s not hard to go from Malta into the Alps,” she said.
“If there’s someone there who really wants it, they can move not too far away.”
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