sport

Nicholls misses out on medal

Jamie Nicholls missed out on a medal for Great Britain as American Sage Kotsenburg won gold in the first ever snowboard slopestyle event.

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 at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

A shaky second run saw him fail to better his 85.50 score first time around and he was then overtaken before eventually finishing 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."

Morgan was considered the better prospect for a medal in this event after his fourth place finish at the 2013 World Championship, with 20-year-old Nicholls only earning a top-10 finish in a major competition for the first time in January.

Southampton-born Morgan had earlier raced into the final, finishing with a backside triple 14 on his final jump to earn a 90.50 score.

But he failed to replicate his form later on, first failing to land properly after the third rail and then stumbling on his second jump in his two runs.