Nicholls happy with final showing

Jamie Nicholls finished sixth

Jamie Nicholls finished sixth

First published in National Sport News © by

Jamie Nicholls has admitted he did not think he would earn a medal at the first ever Winter Olympics snowboard slopestyle event in Sochi, but was thrilled just to compete in the final.

The 20-year-old from Bradford finished sixth, while compatriot Billy Morgan settled for 10th on a memorable day for British snowboarding.

However, Nicholls appeared on course for a shock podium spot with a fine effort, coupled with several competitors failing to execute their tricks properly, leaving him in second place behind eventual gold medallist Sage Kotsenburg (93.50) after the first run.

But he could not better his 85.50 score in his second run and was eventually overhauled, with Norwegian Staale Sandbech (91.75) winning the silver medal and Canada's Mark McMorris bronze (88.75).

Nicholls, though, did not get his hopes up while he was still in the medal positions and was content to savour the experience.

"I just knew it wasn't enough but just to be here part of it, part of this whole Olympics and the standard of riding, was unreal - to be in that mix is incredible," he said.

"I knew those guys at the end were the best guys in the world, I knew they were going to put down their runs. I was just happy to be a part of it.

"I'm only 20 years old. I'll probably be at the next one too. It's a great experience for sure.

"Now I'm just going to go back to snowboarding and enjoy it, like I always do."

Nicholls had surprised many, including himself, by reaching the final and had promised he would not hold back on Saturday.

He lived up to his word and held his nerve, when others around him were struggling, with a clean run that culminated in a backside triple on the final jump.

"My first run was the best run I've ever done in my life," he said.

"I landed that and I wanted to step up my second run by doing a switch back 12 (a trick that involves spinning backwards and completing three and a half rotations) on the second jump.

"That's the only way I could have gone and maybe I would have been on the podium but I tried my best and gave it my all."

Nicholls has admitted part of the reason for his success this week may have been down to his attitude.

"I felt no pressure in the Olympics whatsoever, maybe that's why I went as well as I did. It's crazy, I'm so happy that me and Billy managed to get to the finals," Nicholls added.

"To both get (in the) top 10 in the Olympics is great for British snowboarding."

Morgan echoed Nicholls' sentiments, but was crushed after watching his friend edged out of the medal positions.

"(It was) devastating," he said. "Jamie's the same as me. He's so stoked to be here. Two Brits being in the final is a massive achievement for us. I've not known what to expect."

Morgan, who topped qualifying in Saturday morning's semi-final, failed to land a clean run in the afternoon's showpiece event.

The 24-year-old said: "If I got fourth or 12th I would have been just as stoked, so I thought I'd just go for podium - fell, but I'm happy."

Of the two Britons, Morgan was considered a better prospect to claim a medal after his fourth-place finish at last year's World Championship, with 20-year-old Nicholls only earning a top-10 finish in a major competition for the first time in January.

Southampton-born Morgan had earlier raced to the top of the leaderboard in the semi-final, finishing with a backside triple 14 on his final jump to earn a 90.50 score.

But in the final, he first failed to land properly after the third rail and then, on his second run, stumbled on his second jump.

"If I landed my run, I'm sure I would have been up there with the best score," he added.

"That's the name of the game. This isn't like any contest I've been in before. Everybody's doing their best stuff.

"I'll be back, I'll be back with a vengeance."

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