Winter Olympics 2014: Jamie Nicholls pleased with final performance that secured sixth place in snowboard slopestyle
Nicholls missed out on a medal while his British compatriot Billy Morgan finished tenth after crashing in both runs
Saturday 08 February 2014
Jamie Nicholls missed out on a first Sochi medal for Great Britain but savoured a sixth place finish as American Sage Kotsenburg stormed to gold in the first ever snowboard slopestyle event at the Winter Olympics.
Bradford-born Nicholls looked well placed for a shock podium spot after a fine effort, coupled with several competitors crashing out, left him in second place behind Kotsenburg after the first run.
A shaky second run saw the 20-year-old fail to better his 85.50 score first time around and he could then only wait to see if mistakes by others would leave him in a medal place.
But he was overhauled and eventually finished sixth, with Norway's Staale Sandbech winning silver and pre-tournament favourite Mark McMorris bronze.
Nicholls' British compatriot Billy Morgan, who topped qualifying in this morning's semi-final, crashed in both runs and finished 10th.
"I'm really happy, I can't believe it," Nicholls said on BBC Sport. "I'm so happy that (Billy and I) made the finals and the top 10. I can't be more happy than that."
Nicholls had surprised many, including himself, by reaching the final and had promised he would not hold back today.
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.
Kotsenburg had earlier produced a nigh-on faultless routine that would be enough to see him win gold with a score of 93.50.
With McMorris and fellow Canadians Sebastien Toutant and Maxence Parrot, among others, stumbling over in their routines, Nicholls found himself in the silver medal position.
But McMorris overtook him after landing three triples in as many jumps before Nicholls then stumbled on a rail in his second run and was awarded 46.50.
Sweden's Sven Thorgren, who finished fourth, ended any hopes he had of winning a medal.
"I don't normally mess up on the rails. I came off early and then I just had some fun," Nicholls added. "I hope we can get some new talent coming up and doing what we did. Hopefully we can be at the next one too.
"I'm so proud of this sport, I can't believe the standard. It's the highest I've seen it."
Earlier Morgan booked his place in the final with a nigh-on flawless run, which finished with a backside triple 14 and earned him a score of 90.75.
After his 10th place finish Morgan had a BBC 2 interview cut short when, in response to being asked how he had approached his runs, he replied: "I just thought f*** it...."
Lee Jackson, who began his biathlon 10km sprint at 1830 Sochi (1430GMT) at the Laura Cross Country Ski and Biathlon Center, was another Briton in action on Day One.
Meanwhile, in the Ice Skating Palace on the Olympic Park, British figure skaters Nick Buckland and Penny Coomes (ice dance short dance) and Jenna McCorkell (ladies short program) were due to perform in the evening. Britain were lying 10th in the team event with only five nations due to progress to the free skate that will decide the medals.
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