Winter Olympics 2014: 'Fridge kids' on thin ice at Sochi Games

Two young British snowboarders reach new heights at the Olympian snow event - and make the commentator slip up over their language

It was what everyone was thinking as they tuned in to yesterday’s inaugural men’s snowboarding slopestyle final: that they’d just “huck it” and give the new Winter Olympic sport a go.

That’s huck, with an “h”, meaning “to go for it” in snowboarder-ese. If only someone had briefed poor Hazel Irvine, the BBC commentator who cut short a post-final interview with Billy Morgan, apologising for bad language, after the 10th-placed Brit said he wanted to “go big or go home … I just thought ‘huck it!’”.

Verbal mishaps aside, Morgan, 24, and his team-mate Jamie Nicholls, 20, had armchair fans hooked on a thrilling if utterly bonkers event, which involves flying down a slope through a “terrain park” that makes the skateboarders’ lairs the length and breadth of Britain look tame. The 635m-long slopestyle course includes jumps – or kickers – plus obstacles such as boxes and rails that the snowboarders appear to levitate over, in between soaring skywards with an array of tricks, flips and spins, all with catchy names such as the “McTwist” or “double cork”.

The “backside triple 1440” that Nicholls landed on his first run down the Rosa Khutor mountainside was good enough to merit sixth place, which, believe it or not, made the Yorkshireman Britain’s best-placed male Winter Olympian at any snow (rather than ice-based) event. (The unfortunate Alain Baxter’s Salt Lake City bronze in 2002 was taken away after an unfortunate Vicks inhaler incident.) The gold – the first of the Sochi Games – went to Sage Kotsenburg of the US, with Norway’s Staale Sandbech getting silver, and Canada’s Mark McMorris the bronze.

Britain’s reputation for winter sport being what it is, the gnarly (more snowboarding lingo for you, Irvine) Brits have been dubbed the “fridge kids” because of where they train: mainly at indoor snow domes. That said, Nicholls started out at Halifax Ski and Snowboard Centre, which was originally covered with nothing more exciting than bristly brush known as Dendix, upgraded in 2000 to Snowflex. Either way, Halifax is no Val d’Isère, so it’s a bit of a miracle Brits are up there with the best in the world at an Alpine event.

Nicholls, who fell on his second run, was thrilled with how the pair did. “I’m happy we both made the final and got a top 10 finish. I don’t usually fall off the rails, but I’m really proud. The level was so high. If we have the facilities in the UK then maybe we’ll see some Brits on the podium in the next one.”

Before then, Brits Aimee Fuller and Jenny Jones compete in the women’s snowboard slopestyle semis from 6.30am GMT. Jones, 33, making her Olympic debut, has been at the top for more than a decade.

Whatever happens, one thing is certain: it’s all bound to make hucking good telly. And just for the record, Irvine, that’s not a misprint.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea