Billy Morgan absolutely smashed it in slopestyle today, earning one of the highest scores of the day to win the semi-final. Despite not being able to stick his run in the final, he was clearly having a whale of a time out on there. He was still buzzing when we caught up with him just before his evening BBC interview, so we bought him a beer and go us to talk through the experience.
So the back 16 triple. First time you’ve ever tried it right? Why did you do it then?
I actually have no idea. I landed a 10 in training and I’d already done 14s and I thought on my way in “I might as well give it a rip" and I gave it a rip.
You’d stacked it on the back rodeo so you knew it wouldn’t mean anything though…
But why not? Huck or die! [smiles] It had got to be done one day and that was it. It was a good jump, I hadn’t done that many triples on the same jump before, and I was fighting a bit of rotation at the end anyway so I thought I’ll just try and do it, and it worked.
It was rad, it got one of the biggest cheers from the crowd.
Really? You wouldn’t think they knew what it was.
Well they probably just loved the fact that someone was going upside down. The other trick that got a huge cheer was your laid out backflip. Were you just thinking ‘why not’ again?
I dunno yeah. You can’t do a straight air can you, so I thought I’d just do a backflip. Like I’m alright at backflips so I thought why not. I could’ve done a 360 but I’d probably have fallen ‘cos I haven’t done any 360s since I’ve been here.
Your run was gonna be cab triple, front double 10, back triple. Did you land that in training?
Yeah. Oh no actually, I didn’t get it in training. I did it in bits in training. I did the triples, I did it in bits so it was all ready to go, I just didn’t get the actual one.
Obviously a bit gutted not to get a run down in the actual final…
Yeah but if I’d have got that run down that would’ve put me near the podium – or on the podium – so you know…
Is it any consolation that the ones you stacked on were your stock tricks? The back rodeo and the front double 10?
I know, I know, don’t remind me [smiles] I sent that rodeo too big. I rode into it too fast. And the dub 10, I was never gonna land that. It was sooo big. I sent it massive, I didn’t know how big I’d gone on that cab triple cos I was too blind from going yah yah yah three times. So I rocketed in and I didn’t slow down on the take off so I just went into orbit. But fuck it, it was rad. I could’ve gone round again. I could’ve just gone over again. Shoulda just gone like “huh!"
And just thrown a triple, triple, triple?
A lot of people were saying that the result today was good for snowboarding. What do you think?
Absolutely. I’ve never ridden in a snowboard contest like that. I’ve never seen someone do two 14s in a run like Jamie, I’ve never seen people do flat 16s, I’ve never seen half the shit that went down today. It was mental! I was there like hoping Jamie wasn’t going to get bumped, but at the same time I was like “blah, I’m just absolutely loving seeing this shit go down." And it was literally like a huck-fest. People were just fanging new tricks that they’d never done before. It was so good.
I’ve never ridden in a snowboard contest like that. I’ve never seen someone do two 14s in a run like Jamie, I’ve never seen people do flat 16s, I’ve never seen half the shit that went down today. It was mental!
Do you think that’s the Olympics factor? You did a brand new trick, Jamie did a brand new trick in qualifying, Sage obviously won it with a brand new trick. Is that just the Olympic effect?
Well obviously. Yeah like they weren’t doing it cos they thought err “this is a good training opportunity." Everyone was getting barred up. There was no point in getting a fifth you know? Fourth or 12th doesn’t matter. If you’re on the podium that matters.
Obviously this is crazily different from a standard snowboard comp – what’s the biggest difference you’ve felt?
All of the hype. All the qualification, all the prep… everything that I did to be here all boiled down to this. The only thing was that I was so bummed after not getting through the first semi [the qualification, where Billy didn’t earn an automatic finals spot] that I was over it. I was over it after that first semi I was like “I’d just go home now if I could."
Yeah I was like “fuck it". Honestly, I was pissed.
So it must have felt good to come out and smash it and qualify first today from the semi-final?
Well yeah I just did the same run! Hamish [McKnight, the Team GB coach] was like: “You’ve just to go big." And then I went big, and then it worked.
You realize if you took the semi-finals as it’s own competition you beat Mark McMorris, Peetu, Chuck G and all these amazing riders.
Yeah I don’t look at it like that. But yeah, the same thing happened in Breck when they took 10 grand away from me. [US Grand Prix finals were cancelled a few weeks back and instead of following standard procedure and letting the qualification scores stand as the final results, the organisers declared the comp null and void] That pissed me off [laughs] Bastards! [laughs]. They took the prize money from that comp and held their own competition with just American riders.
There was only one American in the final and two Brits. How did that make you feel?
Yah! [laughs] Nah to be fair, I love Chas [Guldemond], I wish Chas was in the final, he’s a boss. Sage is a boss, and Ryan? I hadn’t met him before but he’s cool, I really like him. I like all the American riders and I actually really like Americans. So yeah, I’m stoked. But I don’t know. I guess one of the interesting things about slopestyle is that anything can happen you know? Like Mark almost didn’t get through semis. He was fretting at the top, you could see it in his face.
Does he chat about that up at the top by the drop in?
Well he doesn’t speak to me that much. Like here there are a few of the riders that I hadn’t had a conversation with before but I’ve had a chat with them here and they’ve been really mellow and got along with them. And Mark’s the only person that I’ve struck conversations with and he’s just like: “I’ll just go…"
Do you think that’s cos he sees you as a threat?
I don’t know, maybe he just doesn’t like talking to people. I’m not a threatening person.
No, I meant like a competitive threat?
Well there’s no reason why you can’t be competitive and get along with someone. I like to have as many friends as possible and be as nice to as many people as possible.
Well that’s just ‘cos you’re a nice guy Billy.
Yeah such a noice guy [laughs]
What was the deal with Roope Tonteri’s coach and the knitting?
What’s that, I didn’t see that?
Well everyone else was giving the fist bumps at the top of the course. Roope’s coach was standing there just doing some knitting!
That’s badass! Why not? Did you know Paddy Graham [the skier] can knit? Genuinely can knit, like a Grandma. He’s a boss. He’s a knit boss.
I would say that I’m going to catch the first flight to Bali and get shit-faced for a month but I’m actually going to the US Open.
What’s next after this for you?
Well I would say that I’m going to catch the first flight to Bali and get shit-faced for a month but I’m going to the US Open. Five days at home and then go straight to Vail.
Wicked! You’re an invited rider?
Ah you’ll get free accommodation and food and stuff then right?
Oh really? I hope so, I love free food. I’m gonna hate leaving here. They have salmon for days at this place. I love salmon. The food’s really good. Well, it’s a bit boring now ‘cos I’ve eaten it all but occasionally a new bit of cake comes out or something and you’re like “god-damn." There was a good banana-souffle type thing the other day that was good…
What’s your experience been of Russia and Russians in general?
They’ve been so friendly and accommodating. They’ve been absolutely amazing. I know it’s their job to be as helpful as possible but like… well, the dude in our house was like “me and a friend are going to go to do some ice river-swimming thing, you know if you want to come with us tomorrow?" It’s things like that which just make you realize that people are cool. You know, I don’t know him. And just cos we struck up a conversation about swimming in cold water he was like “c’mon down tomorrow". That’s nice, I like that, even if I can’t go.
My general feeling has been that the people here are just really stoked to show people their country. Is that what you’ve found?
Well I’m not really that up on the politics of Russia or anything, I mean I know the curtain came down about 20 years ago and everything’s kind of changed since then. Everybody’s like “Woah, Russia," and they’re kind of outcasts in Europe, but no-one really knows who they are. I mean they’re this huge country with loads of people, only 1 per cent of them are really rich, and 99 per cent are normal. People think it’s a crazy place but I’ve really enjoyed it. I feel like they’ve got a good chance to put themselves back on the map holding this Olympics and show people what they’re all about. And I think that could be great for them. It’s been great except for the visa situation. If they want people to come on holiday to Sochi, then they need to sort the visa situation out!
A couple more quick questions – what are you going to do about the knee, will you get surgery on it? [Billy snapped both ligaments in his right knee last summer].
Well I riding well strong, so why have it? Well, if I smack myself and I’m in hospital for a bit then I’ll have it operated on. But as long as I’m riding strong, I’m riding strong. I do need to get back in the gym though at the minute. I haven’t been in the gym for about three weeks, and you need to keep the strength up. It’s boring though…
And the last one is, I hear you like to say “huck" before the watershed on national TV?
I do like saying huck on national TV. But you know, huck it, it’s fine. Huck them if they don’t like it [laughs] Nah I like the fact that I genuinely got apologized for on national TV. I was like “wah that’s amazing!" Thing is I was gonna replace it but no-one knows what fanged is either. I’m hyped about being on the BBC live again though. I’m just going to say huck a few more times [laughs]