Queensbury snowboarder on slippery slope to success at Winter Olympics (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Queensbury snowboarder Jamie Nicholls on slippery slope to success at Winter Olympics in Sochi
The house phone rang while Jamie Nicholls was on his mobile.
“I bet it is someone trying to sell me windows,” giggled the 20-year-old.
If it was, it had better be the double-glazed variety as the snowboarder, who has just qualified for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, lives in Queensbury.
And, as if to celebrate the achievements of the slopestyler, there was a light covering of snow on the rooftops of his village when he returned there on Thursday night after travelling to Stockport to attend the official kitting out of the Great Britain team.
Former Queensbury High School pupil Nicholls laughed at the reality of a snowboarder coming from his village, which is 1,100 foot above sea level, and confessed: “When I was younger and there was snow in the field at the back of our house, I used to nick traffic cones from the road so I could jump over them!”
Nicholls, who finished 15th in the World Cup to seal his place on the plane to Russia, has come a long way since he started in the sport aged seven.
Taken to Halifax Ski Centre for something to do, he and his younger sister Sophie were immediately hooked.
“Once I had jumped off the big slope there, I enjoyed it so much that I used to go every night after school.
“I was a little hyped-up school kid – I still am – and once Xscape in Castleford opened, I would go to Halifax on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Castleford on Thursdays and Fridays and Halifax on Saturdays and Sundays.”
Sophie is 19 now, and elder brother Jamie said: “She was as hooked as I was to start off with and is still involved in snowboarding as a presenter for Red Bull TV.”
Jamie, whose cousin Katie Ormerod from Brighouse just missed out on selection and is aiming for Korea in 2018, hasn’t had long to think about getting to Sochi or any of the controversies surrounding the Black Sea venue and the country, such as potential terrorism or anti-gay sentiments.
“All my focus has been on qualifying – I only knew I was going when I came sixth in the last World Cup round in Stoneham in Quebec, and I only got back from there three days ago.
“It has been crazy since, what with going to Stockport to get kitted out and all the media.
“We have each been given two massive holdalls, a shoulder bag, suits and shoes. I set off at 9am on Thursday and only got back at 8pm. I was exhausted.”
Nike-sponsored Nicholls, who left school aged 16 to become a full-time snowboarder and is something of a celebrity in Japan, needed to finish in the top 30 of the World Cup to qualify for the Winter Olympics.
He said: “I came 15th, so I am comfortably in. My events are on February 6 and 8 and I have three rails and three jumps to face, with the jumps increasing in size.
“I normally go at 70 per cent in my events but for Winter Olympics qualifying I will go at 80 per cent and then 100 per cent in the final.
“It depends how all the others do but if I have a perfect run I can win a medal.”
Nicholls is far from being the only Yorkshire member of the Great Britain team going to Russia.
He said: “It is like the 2012 Summer Olympics, where we (Yorkshire) got more medals than Australia.
“We have about a fifth of the whole team for Sochi. It must be the weather, we are hard as nails and we know how to get things done.”
There he is – talking about the weather again. It must be a Queensbury thing.
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