Nicholls has tricks up his sleeve in bid for Olympic glory

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Fearless Bradford snowboarder Jamie Nicholls says he might surprise his slopestyle final opponents today by putting a new trick or two into his routine.

The 20-year-old goes into the first final of the Sochi Olympics with nothing to lose after exceeding his own expectations by qualifying fourth and advancing straight to this morning’s final.

Great Brtiain snowboarder Jamie Nicholls.

Great Brtiain snowboarder Jamie Nicholls.

Nicholls landed a ‘cab 14’ in qualifying on Thursday en route to a score of 86.75 that took even the young Yorkshireman by surprise.

Having qualified for the final the laid-back Nicholls is already of the opinion that anything from here is an added bonus.

Not even the prospect of making history as Britain’s first medallist in a ski or snowboard event is one that daunts him.

It all adds up to a combination that could be dangerous to more seasoned opponents in this morning’s final.

“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,” said Nicholls, who learned his craft at Halifax Ski and Snowboard Centre.

“I could even step up my second run more than I did in qualifying. I’m happy I made it, I am not bothered any more what happens.

“I am just going to go up there again in the final and try my best. I am just happy to have made it.”

Even after qualifying, the adrenalin junkie who goes rock climbing when he is not snowboarding, has been assessing what his competitors might offer in the final.

With three rails and three jumps to negotiate, he knows he may have to pull something radical out of the bag.

“I probably could put a triple on the end. If I’m feeling good then I may as well just try it,” said Nicholls.

“Everyone will probably be doing triples. I am kind of scared of doing them, they are scary, a lot of forces go through your body when you do it.

“But if I could do two 14s in my run and one a triple it would be unbelievable.”

The field has been weakened by the absence of Shaun White, the snowboard halfpipe guru who deemed the slopestyle course in Russia to be too dangerous.

Despite being kept in the dark by White over the reasons, Nicholls – who is a good friend of the American’s – has no issues with it.

“I spoke to Shaun on Wednesday about it and he is not really telling me why and stuff but if that is what he wants to do, that is what he wants to do,” he said. “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, so be it, let him do that.”

Nicholls’s family and friends will be gathering at Halifax Ski and Snowboard Centre this morning to cheer him on.

Stockton-on-Tees’ biathlete Lee Jackson, 33, is also in action today in the 10m sprint.

Jackson came within seven places of matching Britain’s best biathlon result of all time of 48th, achieved at Salt Lake City in 2002, as he came home 55th in the sprint on his Olympic debut in 2010.

He will begin his Sochi 2014 campaign with the sprint just hours after the opening ceremony where a top-60 finish will see him advance to the pursuit, which takes place on Monday.

Jackson will also contest the individual and if he is in the top 30 by that time he will qualify for the mass start – a feat not achieved at Vancouver 2010

However, Jackson admits to there being an altogether different feeling as he prepares 
for his second and potentially final Olympic appearance in Sochi.

“I’ve been on a strange journey over the last eight years. It’s become more of a lifestyle,” he said.

“It’s not just a sport that I participate in it’s a whole lifestyle.

“As an endurance athlete, everything I do has a direct effect on performance and training. The atmosphere surrounding these Games is different.”

nick.westby@ypn.co.uk