What is it with Brits and bronzes? After threatening to break onto the podium at a major event for some time, Billy Morgan finally got what was coming to him by finishing third at the inaugral X Games Oslo.
Even a dislocated rib picked up at a previous event didn't stop him - while he's in London getting it fixed, we chatted to him about his biggest result yet:
Congratulations Billy! What's it like to win an X Games medal?
It felt great to win a medal, and it couldn't have happened at a better contest, really. I go to a lot of World Cups and stuff, but they're not the X Games. Plus all the heavy hitters were there.
Were you feeling that this was going to be your day?
No, I had no idea I'd get on the podium. I wasn't scoring very high through the whole contest, and I didn't think I'd hold on with the score I had. But the jump was tricky and people were struggling to land their stuff, so it worked out. The rib was painful; a bit like getting punched in the gut every time I landed.
"I learned the nosegrab triple cork by accident; I gave it a go when I was riding with Jamie Nicholls, and it ended up being quite comfortable. It makes you a bit more open and it feels really rad"
That medal is massive! What are you going to do with it?
Yeah, it's the size of a small dinner plate and it's fucking heavy! I'll probably put it on the wall.
How did you celebrate?
Oh man, I got very drunk... I was a bit ill before the contest, and wasn't really feeling like going out, but you have to do it, don't you? By the time I left the hotel I was incoherent.
Did you honour the 10% rule?
I don't even know how much I've won! They haven't told me.
At the Innsbruck Air & Style, you mentioned that you feel a little bit like an outsider at these events. Will that change now that you've won an X Games medal?
Nah, that's not really what I meant by that - it's more about how all the other guys grew up competing at a very young age, and I didn't start until I was 22. I dunno, it's a bit like being the new kid at school.
At the same contest you took down Max Parrot in the first round - that must have been a massive confidence booster.
I dunno, Air & Style is a weird one. You go head-to-head, and it can be really unfair. It can end up a bit random. I don't think you can properly judge your performance at an Air & Style, because it's all about who you end up against.
You got a lot of props for grabbing nose at Oslo - with the standard being so high, is it all about finding something that sets you apart from the rest of the field?
Yeah. Doing new tricks is obviously really scary, so it's good to find ways of squeezing as many points as you can out of any tricks that you know you've got down solid. Then you can try and up it on the next one. I learned the nosegrab triple cork by accident; I gave it a go when I was riding with Jamie Nicholls, and it ended up being quite comfortable. It's a lot more fun when you grab nose - it makes you a bit more open and it feels really rad.
"The good thing [about Korea] was that if you’re like me and you can’t ride transitions, you could just go straight over the middle line. If you wanted to be super creative, all those options were there for you too"
How was the Olympic test event in Korea? What did you make of the course?
The course was rad - I would love to have had a few days there when it was a bit softer. All the snow is man-made, which is great for the shapers as they can make whatever they want and it's gonna look amazing. But to ride it, it's like a snowdome - sugar on top of ice. It can be complicated to ride, and if there's a speed issue then the shapers can't really fix things, they have to pretty much start from scratch. The test event went well though, the course was cool.
It's a bit different to what you usually get on the contest circuit - did all the riders enjoy it or were there any who weren't feeling it?
The good thing was that if you're like me and you can't ride transitions, you could just go straight over the middle line. If you wanted to be super creative, all those options were there for you too. Everyone was loving the setup - it was just the snow quality that caused some issues, which is understandable.
After the Laax Open and now this, are transitions something you'll be working on in future?
I'm gonna have to! I might ride a bit of pipe towards the end of the season when it's nice and soft. I've never really had time to practice that stuff in the past. A lot of the other guys, when they were younger they were forced to ride pipe as part of their training or at their snowboard school, so they have that ability already. I'm going to have to catch up a little bit. Hamish [McKnight, GB Park & Pipe coach] is looking to get something built at the end of the season that we can all go and practice on.
Back to Big Air - will quad corks soon be a regular occurrence at competitions?
I hope so. In cities it'll be a struggle as they'd have to put another 20 metres of height on the drop-in ramp - as it stands you have to squeeze your tricks in. But at Aspen they could build it big enough so that you could see them going down. It's definitely doable.