Given his talent, his run of summer contest results and his ability to pull big tricks out of the bag when they’re needed, a lot of folk in the UK (us included) were secretly (and not so secretly) predicting that Billy would spring a surprise on the world in Russia. Certainly we had him marked down as a serious medal contender – anyone who can land a triple cork this smoothly has to be right?
But then, at the end of the summer at a training event in Castleford, Billy got injured. Word on the street was that it was bad, and we had nightmare visions of a David Beckham metatarsal situation – only this would obviously be much worse. There was a chance he’d be out for the whole season.
We had nightmare visions of a David Beckham metatarsal situation – only this would obviously be much worse.
We’d seen Billy a couple of times recently though, and he seemed pretty upbeat about the whole affair, talking about re-hab and getting strong again. And then just yesterday, we heard the awesome news that he’d be heading out to Colorado before Christmas to join his GB Freestyle Team mates at their training base near Breckenridge. So we gave him a ring to get the full low-down.
Hey dude, so you’re heading out to Colorado?
“Yeah. I’m heading out to Copper on the 15th. So on Sunday. I’ll be out there for the World Cup [the Copper FIS Olympic Qualifier].”
Will you ride in the comp?
“Well no I probably won’t ride, cos I don’t really need to, but I might try and enter and put a run down, just for training, just to get a good run down on a good course.”
So talk us through the injury, what happened, it was ligaments right?
“Yeah, I basically bust my ACL my MCL [both the main ligaments in the knee]. And usually you need an op to fix them, but that would put me out for months with the recovery time, so I decided with the team to work on building up the muscle and making the knee stronger.”
Woah, that sounds pretty painful, was it bad?
“Well no, there’s never been any pain, cos they snapped clean, it’s not that painful if they snap [laughs]. But yeah the idea is just to build up the muscle around the knee, and make it strong enough to ride on. It’s basically there, it’s feeling strong. I rode on it at Hemel the other day.”
So how have you been re-habbing?
“Well I did it on a camp at Chill Factore, and Red Bull have been helping me out loads with the recovery. Also BSS [British Ski & Snowboard, the UK's governing body] have been really, really helpful as well. I got myself signed up with a physio down here in Southampton [Billy's home town]. ‘Cos they have the diving centre where a lot of the Olympic divers train down here, The Quays it’s called, so they have good physios, and it’s just easy for me to sign up with them. And there’s also a guy at a clinic down here called Dean Cook, he’s a really good physio.”
So what happens between now and Sochi?
“Well I guess I’ll go out to Copper and train, but I won’t be travelling around much. I won’t ride in Quebec [the final Olympic qualifier] cos I don’t need to. So I’ll stay in Colorado basically. But I’ve got the X Games in Aspen in January, so I’ll do that I guess.”
You got an invite to the X Games?!
“Yeah I got an invite, which is cool. Well, kinda shit timing with the Olympics just after but I guess it’s nice to get the invite.”
Hell yeah it is, that’s rad! So what will you be working on aside from that?
“I guess just training and making sure I’m strong. I’d like to get another triple cork down, a cab triple.”
What like undeflip style?
“Yeah like that. That would help my run I reckon. So I’ll work on that. But otherwise yeah, just normal training. And hopefully it’s gonna be all good!”
So there you have it. Billy’s never been one to mope (honestly I can’t imagine anything less likely than him sitting around feeling sorry for himself!) but we’re still seriously impressed by his attitude to the injury and the speed of his recovery.
Obviously he’s still carrying the injury, and will be until the Olympics. But he’s pretty keen to ride in the Aspen X Games beforehand (as he should be, by our estimation he’s the first ever British man to be invited to ride in the X Games Slopestyle). And while (as the old saying goes) nothing is certain in love, war, or snowboarding, given how far he’s come we’re predicting he’ll smash it out anyway.