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BRITS FAIL IN A MEDAL BID.

Byline: GARETH GRIFFITHS gareth.griffiths@walesonline.co.uk

JAMIE Nicholls missed out on a first Sochi medal for Great Britain but savoured a sixth place finish as American Sage Kotsenburg stormed to gold in the first ever snowboard slopestyle event at the Winter Olympics.

Bradford-born 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.

A shaky second run saw the 20-year-old fail to better his 85.50 score first time around and he could then only wait to see if mistakes by others would leave him in a medal place.

But he was overhauled and eventually finished sixth, with Norway's Staale Sandbech winning silver and pre-tournament favourite Mark Mc-Morris 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 fi-nals 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."

Earlier Morgan booked his place in the final with a nigh-on flawless run, which finished with a backside triple 14 and earned him a score of 90.75.

After his 10th place finish Morgan had a BBC 2 interview cut short when, in response to being asked how he had approached his runs, he replied: "I just thought *** it..

His interview cut short after appearing to swear when asked how he approached his runs.

BBC presenter Hazel Irvine immediately issued an on-air apology although it appears the Southampton man may have been misheard.

GB Snowboard confirmed to Press Association Sport that Morgan had said: "I just thought 'huck it'."

'Huck it' is a slang term used by snowboarders to describe 'going for it'.

Morgan is understood to be very relaxed about the mix-up.

CAPTION(S):

Jamie Nicholls made quite an impact in the first ever Snowboard Slopestyle event to be staged at the Winter Olympics
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 9, 2014
Words:540
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