Bradford’s Jamie Nicholls got Great Britain’s Winter Olympic campaign off to a blistering start yesterday morning when he qualified fourth for tomorrow’s snowboard slopestyle final.
The 20-year-old was left stunned by his own performance, having gone into the Sochi Games with no expectations on his shoulders.
Nicholls finished fourth in the first of two qualifying heats in the men’s snowboard slopestyle competition, an event – like the young Yorkshireman – which is debuting at the Games.
Nicholls – who learned to snowboard at Halifax Ski Centre and has been backed by sponsors since the age of nine – went to Sochi without any expectations on his shoulders, either set by himself or external sources.
However, he 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 86.75 second.
Nicholls was drawn as the penultimate rider in heat one and his second effort saw him break into the top four who bypass the semi-finals and automatically reach tomorrow’s final in Sochi – due to start at 8.45am British time.
He admits he will head home happy regardless of the outcome, but that does not mean Nicholls will not be looking to push for more.
“I feel amazing. I can’t explain it,” he said. “I came here and all I wanted to do was land a run and landing a run and getting to the finals is a dream come true.”
Nicholls achieved a trick new to him, commenting: “It is the first time I’ve landed that in a contest.
“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.
“The standard is crazy. To be able to go up there and do a run that I have never done in my life shows the standard is pretty high.”
Nicholls is in a position now to try to win not only Britain’s first medal of the Games tomorrow, but also their first ever in ski and snowboarding.
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