He’s an action sports junkie who classes double Olympic champion Shaun White as a friend – but Queensbury’s Jamie Nicholls insists it is time to forget being Jack of all trades and become the master of one thing in Sochi.
The 20-year-old takes to the snow in Russia tomorrow (6am UK time) for his Olympic debut in the snowboard slopestyle – an adrenaline-fueled run down a mountain where you are judged on tricks off rails and jumps.
Nicholls isn’t afraid of danger – he spends his time rock climbing in the summer and also cycles and skateboards.
And he won’t let anything or anyone ruin his Olympic debut.
Nicholls and White – who won the snowboard halfpipe Olympic title at Turin 2006 before defending it at Vancouver 2010 and is aiming to make it a hat-trick in Sochi – have history dating back to the first time the two met in Austria.
Earlier this week, White backed Nicholls’ calls for amendments to the slopestyle course after Torstein Horgmo broke his collarbone in practice, labelling the course ‘a little intimidating’. White later opted to skip the slopestyle discipline.
For Nicholls, his game-plan remains clear: “My aim is to go out there, have fun, enjoy the experience, land a run and hopefully do well. I want to land my hard run, that is what I want to do.
“I want to land the hardest run I have ever done. When you train, you try to perform to 100 per cent because at least you know that if you go full out, and you do crazy runs, that when you come to a contest, you can maybe go to 80 per cent.
“So I will go to the Olympics, maybe at 80 per cent probably, and if I need to, I will make that next step up. I have still got more in the bag.
“I have so much respect for Shaun. When I first met him, he got me to do a triple cork. It was really scary because a triple cork is basically going upside down three times, spinning a lot.
“So, I was scared. He was doing them. And we had an air bag and a jump. He was like ‘you’ve got this Jamie, you have got this, it’s all good. You are not going to bail. You are a good snowboarder’.
“So, I dropped it. I did it. I landed it first try.”
Unlike White’s conventional route to snowboarding on snow, Nicholls was never far away from the dry Halifax Ski and Snowboard Centre, although that path is now less well trodden.
Britain’s freestyle skiers have been dubbed ‘Fridge Kids’ due to starting out in indoor snow centres – and that is an avenue accepted by Nicholls, who transferred to the real white stuff aged 16.
“There was a really good scene at Halifax at the time,” said Nicholls. “There isn’t now, it has died out, which is a shame. But that is how it goes. It comes and goes.
"The snow domes have opened up and they’ve decided to build these big fridges around the country. People thought that was better, they related to that better.”
* The British Olympic Association is the National Olympic Committee for Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The BOA prepares the Best of British athletes for, and leads them at, the summer, winter and youth Olympic Games. The BOA is dependent upon fundraising income to achieve its mission – www.teamgb.com@TeamGB.
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