Jamie Nicholls is hoping that his and his fellow Great Britain teammates’ exploits in the Winter Olympics in Sochi will provide the launch pad for an upsurge in interest in snowboarding.
The 20-year-old from Queensbury caused something of a sensation after finishing sixth in the inaugural Slopestyle event in Russia last week.
Nicholls, who learned his skills at Halifax Ski and Snowboard Centre, was lying third at one stage until an unfortunate error when he slipped off the side of the top rail saw him out of contention.
Nevertheless, Nicholls declared himself extremely proud of his debut appearance in the Games and is already making plans to be in the GB team for the next Winter Olympics in Korea in four years time.
By that time he is hoping the profile of the sport will have risen dramatically. Since his return to West Yorkshire at the weekend Nicholls has already seen the knock-on effect of taking part in such a high profile event.
“I was at my cousin’s house and something was posted online,” said Nicholls. “When I came out there were loads of kids and they were all saying they wanted to be snowboarders.
“That was brilliant. Aimee (Fuller) and I also went to a Snowdome in Hemel Hempstead and the place was packed. The management there said they had never seen it that busy before.
“So many kids in this country want to take up snowboarding and it’s crazy to think that we could help raise the profile.
“Snowboarding is massive in places like America and Canada and I hope we have put it on the map in this country.”
It might seem strange that Nicholls is back home while the competition is still going on. However, he has been pleased to return to Queensbury and share his experience with family and friends.
“It hasn’t bothered me knowing that the Games are still going on.” added Nicholls. “It was nice to come home to my family and now I get to sit on the sofa with a cup of tea and watch the Games in comfort.
“I have also been really moved by people’s reaction to my taking part. There has not been one negative, it has all been positive and I would like to thank people for that
“If I had stayed out until the 25th it would mean I had been away for three weeks. The US Open comes up in a couple of weeks so it is great that I am able to wind down a bit before the next competition.”
Nicholls will turn up in Colorado with his reputation enhanced following his Olympic exploits.
He finished fifth last year and as a result was invited back to compete again this time around.
“All the guys who were at the Olympics will be there. It is a massive competition,” said Nicholls.
“if you win the US Open then it is a very big deal. I can’t wait - I am super-excited about it as I was invited back and have been put straight through to the semi-finals.
“The aim is to do better than last year and hope for the podium this time.”