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BRONZE FOR BILLY MORGAN - Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Saturday February 24, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

The snowboarder has taken the bronze medal in the inaugural Olympic Big Air competition. It's officially GB's most successful Winter Games. NEW & UPDATED



It's a big shock for the man who qualified for the final with the seventh best score of the 12 riders.

Morgan himself was aware he'd need something special to get on the podium in such a competitive field.

"It's going to be mental in the final,"  he said after Wednesday's qualifiers. "I would need a lot of luck to podium now after seeing what's going on.

"But anything can happen, I will try my best."

Anything just did.

He's made the podium and history.

It's Britain's fifth medal in Pyeongchang which makes it officially GB's most successful Winter Olympics.

There are no more chances for GB medals.

About 12 hours after Morgan's medal, the women's curling team lost the bronze medal match and will go home empty-handed.

Billy MorganBilly Morgan celebrating his bronze






















The final saw 12 riders each have three runs with the best two to count.

Morgan  - the oldest man in the field at 28 -  failed to land his first cleanly, picking up only 30 points out of 100.

It left him in 11th place.

He nailed his second run which earned him 82.50, and pushed him up into eighth.

It meant the pressure was on for another great final jump.

And he didn't crack, getting his best score of the three - 85.50 - with a massive jump, a double grab frontside triple cork 1440.

It's a trick he'd never done in competition before and he'd fallen four times in practice for the final.

Billy Morgan Billy Morgan after run 3





















It pushed him up to third but, as he was only the second rider of the 12 to drop in,  he had a long and nervous wait to see if he could hold on to third place.

Several of the leading contenders fell and - against his own expectations - Billy Morgan will be going home with an Olympic medal.


Billy Morgan on podiumWow! Billy Morgan is the bronze medallist























Canada's Sebastien Toutant won gold with 174.25 points ahead of USA's Kyle Mack (168.75) who finished less than a point ahead of Morgan (168.00).

Morgan, who almost didn't make it to the Games after suffering a knee injury, said his medal was reward for a long career which has included world-first tricks but few trips to the podium.

"It's the payoff. I've done this for a long time and I haven't got that many medals," he said.

"I've got a bronze in the X-Games... I thought that would be my big thing, but it looks like this is it.

"I'm lucky today - I feel really lucky. A lot of the guys out there that were riding normally just hammer it.

"I didn't come into this contest thinking I'd do this well. It's blown my mind."

Billy MorganBilly Morgan, Olympic medallist























Morgan said he'd just decided to go for it.

"I'm 28 years old and I've maxed the limit of what my body can be scared about.

"It's the best feeling, the pay off after you do something you are scared about and you land on your feet, that's why we do this.

"For that last trick I pushed all the fear to one side, I was like, even if I completely wreck myself it doesn't matter, I'm just going to go and do it.

"Normally I'm just worried but I went out there to send it for the boys.

"It's great it means so much for the whole team, they're all stoked. I think there were a few tears actually. I don't think I've seen any of them cry before. It's weird isn't it?"

Billy Morgan & Team GB supportersTears in the Team GB camp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Billy Morgan celebrates with the teamBilly Morgan mobbed by the GB team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Big Air sees riders head down a ramp steeper than almost any black run and launch themselves off a massive kicker
  • The ramp in Pyeongchang is 44 metres vertical and the snowboarders fly up to 30 metres in the air off it
  • They're judged on the difficulty, execution, amplitude - or height - and landing of their trick (DEAL)
Big air at PyeongchangBig air at Pyeongchang

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Morgan's medal came on the penultimate day of the Games and the last day of competition on snow.

It's Britain's second Olympic medal in snowboarding after Jenny Jones's bronze in slopestyle at Sochi, and the second on snow at these games. Izzy Atkin won bronze in the ski slopestyle.

Team GB has now surpassed the four medals it won at the Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924 and Sochi in 2014, though it's likely the Sochi tally will be increased to five with the British four-man bobsleigh crew expected to be upgraded to a bronze after the disqualification of two Russian teams. 

Snowboard Big Air men's podiumGB's fifth medal in Pyeongchang - photo Aimee Fuller





















Morgan was a latecomer to the sport. 

He was an acrobatic gymnast and first picked up a snowboard when he was 14, learning at the dry slope in his home town of Southampton.

He later went to work on a building site in the summer months to pay for winter seasons.

"It's not been a slog. I started snowboarding for the sheer love of it, snowboarded on the plastic, went and did seasons away and developed my skill without knowing it," he said.

"When I joined the British team, I just carried on, with a great bunch of mates."

Medal ceremonyMedal ceremony
























He certainly made up for his late start.

In 2011 he achieved a world first - landing a a triple backside rodeo 1260.

In 2015 he notched up another.

He became the first to land the biggest, riskiest trick in snowboarding - a backside quad cork 1800.

Morgan hasn't done it since, though a couple of others have and one - Chris Corning of the USA - tried it in the Pyeongchang final but failed to land it. 

If you don't know what the trick is - or even if you do but want to watch Morgan do it - here it is: 




Morgan has been congratulated by the Team GB Chef de Mission in Pyeongchang, Mike Hay.

"He put himself under a bit of pressure but he executed when it mattered and I'm just delighted for him and his team," he said.

"You are always under pressure and I'm just so pleased that we've won five medals.

"Sometimes you just need to hold your nerve. We've got a lot of talented athletes here and you always have ups and down but the Games is 17 days long and you can't be quick to judge.

"This is an awesome event and I just hope he's inspired people watching at home. It's a great story, at one time he didn't think he'd be fit enough to come here and to win a medal."

Morgan has posted this on Instagram:


Morgan's bronze medal caps a successful Games for the freestylers after a difficult start. 

The GB Park & Pipe team lost one its best medal hopes, snowboarder Katie Ormerod, before competition began when she fractured her heel in practice. She was due to compete in both the slopestyle and big air and was more than capable of getting on the podium in both.
Then the three men competing in the snowboard slopestyle, including Morgan, failed to get to the final.
But Izzy Atkin won a bronze medal in the ski slopestyle and James 'Woodsy' Woods narrowly missed out in the men's ski slopestyle, finishing fourth.
It means that, despite the absence of Katie Ormerod, the skiers and snowboarders have met the minimum medal target set by UK Sport of two medals.

There've been a few more moments of history on the penultimate day of Pyeongchang 2018.

The rest of the news from day 15.....

Alpine team event

Great Britain has finished equal fifth in the inaugural Olympic Alpine Team event with a team of Dave Ryding, Laurie Taylor, Alex Tilley and Charlie Guest.

Tilley and Ryding recorded victories in the first round to help Team GB to a 2-2 score against powerhouse USA, however the combined best times of the British pair were superior and moved them into the quarter-finals.

Again, Tilley and Ryding won their match-ups in their final-eight showdown with Norway, however this time the tie-breaking combined times went the other way and the Brits went down by 0.21 seconds.

The result is officially Britain's best Olympic alpine skiing result in half a century and the second best of all time, only bettered by Gina Hathorn's fourth place in the slalom at Innsbruck 1968.

Snowboard parallel giant slalom

She's done it!

Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic has won gold. 

She's become the first woman to win gold medals in completely different sports at the same Winter Olympics.

She shocked the world and herself by winning the Super G on skis borrowed from Mikaela Shiffrin.

She's a double world champion in snowboarding so this latest result was more expected.  Even so, she was overwhelmed to win.

Snowboard parallel GS podiumEster Ledecka (centre) makes history





















Germany completed the podium with Selena Joerg second and Ramona Theresia Hofmeister third.

Cross-country men's 50km mass start

Great Britain's Andrew Musgrave and Callum Smith finished off their Games with a 37th and 54th place respectively.

Musgrave has had a mixed Olympics, with his top result a seventh place in the skiathlon. 

He said he went off too hard in the 50km and blew up after just 7km.

"I'm a little bit disappointed with my Games. I had a really good start in the 30km, I was really optimistic after that.

"But I haven't managed to maintain my form through the three weeks. I've got to go home, speak to the coaches, evaluate what we did in the build up, what we did right and wrong.

"There's definitely some improvements to be made. I've shown that on a good day I can be one of the best in the world. It's just making sure I have the best day on the right day."

Callum Smith's 54th was his best result of his three races at the Games.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.


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