Jamie Nicholls was left stunned as he exceeded all expectations on his Winter Olympic debut in Sochi – now he is vowing to leave nothing to chance in order to keep the shocks coming.
The 20-year-old Bradford rider placed an impressive fourth in the first of two qualifying heats in the men’s snowboard slopestyle competition, an event – like Nicholls – which is making its first appearance at the Games.
Yet Nicholls was not daunted by the occasion and even produced a run he had never done competitively before at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, scoring 62.25 first time out and then adding 86.75.
Nicholls, from Queensbury, was drawn as the penultimate rider in heat one and his second effort saw him break into the top four that bypass the semi-finals and automatically reach tomorrow’s final at the Russian venue.
He admits he will head home happy regardless of the outcome but that does not mean Nicholls won’t be pushing his boundaries further – revealing more new tricks might be on offer.
Nicholls said: “I feel amazing. I can’t explain it. I came here and all I wanted to do was land a run, so landing a run and getting to the finals is a dream come true.
“I landed a cab 14, which I have never really landed that before as it is a new trick for me. It is the first time I’ve landed that in a contest, for sure.
“I did it in training once last year and kind of sketched out on it. To do it in a contest run and put it down like that was amazing.
“Now I am in the finals I have got to go all out – 100 per cent. I am just going to go for it and see what happens. I could step up my run two even more than I did.
“I probably could put a triple on the end. If I’m feeling good then I may as well just try it. “Everyone will probably be doing triples. I am kind of scared of doing them. They are scary as a lot of forces go through your body when you do it.
“But if I could do two 14s in my run and one be a triple, it would be unbelievable.”
One person who will not be in tomorrow’s semi-finals in Sochi, let alone final, is Nicholls’ good friend and double Olympic snowboard halfpipe champion Shaun White.
The American pulled out of the slopestyle competition to concentrate on the halfpipe on Wednesday and, despite being kept in the dark by White over the reasons, Nicholls has no issues with it.
“I spoke to Shaun about it and he is not really telling my why and stuff, but if that is what he wants to do then that is what he wants to do.
“He is one of the best slopestyle riders in the world. He’s proved that by making the Olympic team for America. If he wants to concentrate on pipe then so be it, let him do that.”
Nicholls’ better-known GB team-mate Billy Morgan must ride again in the semi-finals after finishing sixth in the same heat as the Bradford star.
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