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Another ‘first’ for Nicholls

Jamie Nicholls at the Winter Olympics
Jamie Nicholls at the Winter Olympics

Jamie Nicholls conceded the prospect of making history had weighed heavily on his mind as he concluded his latest Olympic Games with an appearance in the snowboard big air competition.

The Brit was only able to finish 11th in his heat following a best score of 81.25, leaving him outside of the top six finish needed to qualify for the final.

But the 24-year-old from Queensbury will at least come away from South Korea with one added statistic next to his name – the first ever snowboarder to compete in an Olympic big air competition.

The discipline – which involves individuals racing down a steep ramp before performing and then trying to land a trick - was making its Olympic debut in PyeongChang, with Nicholls drawn to drop first in the opening heat.

It was a responsibility that he felt acutely but he failed to land his jump before bouncing back with his second effort.

“When the start list came through yesterday I was thinking ‘you’ve got to be kidding, I’m dropping in first.’ I’d rather drop in second or third but not first,” he said,

“It’s quite a scary thing to be dropping in first in the Olympics. Any other competition, it’s fine but at the Olympics it’s different.

“I guess I am a history maker though and I’ll take that. It’s just unfortunate that I fell over on that first run.

“My first run I felt a little nervous. Obviously being the first male snowboarder to drop in to the first big air at the Olympics, it was scary.

“I was stood up there for a while, the crowds were cheering and going for it and I was just stood up there and I was quiet. I was nervous.

“I messed up my first run but I felt like that was down to my nerves. And then I got my second run really good, I was really happy with it, no hands down.”

PyeongChang represented Nicholls’ second Olympic Games after Sochi, where he finished sixth in the men’s slopestyle.

He was unable to better that this time around after missing out in the heats on the opening day of the Games – Nicholls also took the honour of being Team GB’s first athlete to compete at the 2018 Olympics.

And while disappointed to miss out on a final in either the slopestyle or big air, Nicholls was content to play his part in history and the progression of the sport.

“It’s just good to be part of such a high standard of snowboard big air. I’m excited for the future and the next four years and going into the next Games in Beijing,” he added.

“I think it’s amazing for the sport, I’m so glad we now have big air, slopestyle and halfpipe all in the Olympics, it’s brilliant.

“The sport has progressed so much and evolved so much and it’s great to see everybody killing it in different disciplines.

“To get to the Olympics again and come here and land a run in slopestyle and big air, I’m happy. I can take it from there, the confidence from here and work on it for next time.”

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