Sochi 2014 – Jamie Nicholls exclusive interview

After cruising straight through to the men’s slopestyle final, Jamie Nicholls gave us one hell of a show and ended the day in 6th place; the joint best result for a British male Olympian in an on-snow event, ever.

Photo: Cyril Mueller.

Whitelines Deputy Editor Tristan Kennedy sat down with Jamie shortly after the final to get his take on things.


I’m an emotional wreck. That was just intense…

Haha – it looks like we kind of inspired a country, that’s for sure! It’s just going crazy back home. My agent says they want me home as soon as I can get there, there’s so much media to do. It’s insane.

What’s the deal with the Lego-style toy?

I don’t know, I saw a picture and everyone was like “does anyone want a toy of Jamie?” It was like a little doll thing, with goggles and a square head. I can’t remember, I just scanned it. But apparently we’re all over the news. In the UK, people who have never seen snowboarding before are saying “this is the craziest thing ever.” It’s put snowboarding on the map.

A lot of people, including Todd Richards, said that this was one of the best days of snowboarding ever.

Yeah! This final, I can’t believe Billy and I have been a part of it. I keep getting texts, everyone’s been talking about it back home. Everyone! My friends and family are having parties because of it! My sister’s constantly getting interviewed. I didn’t think it would have such an effect, but because it looked so good people just got inspired.

What’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed between this and a standard snowboard comp?

It’s the craziest standard of snowboarding I’ve ever, ever seen. We were all at the top, absolutely blown away by what was going down. When you see big air tricks like 1440s and 1620s put down in a slopestyle run, it’s crazy.

You yourself put down two 14s in a run – the first person to do that ever!

I wasn’t planning that initially, as because we didn’t know what the standard was going to be, but it just blew up! I went in today and said to Hamish [McKnight, Team GB coach], “right: third practice run of the day, I’m going to do a triple on the last jump.” And that’s what I did. I nailed it, then got a cab 1440 down, then linked them together in my run.

When you came in today, you told me there was no point in doing a safety run.

Yeah, we both had that plan! We thought, “We’re in the Olympic final, we might as well just send it!” And we both did that. Billy even fell on the cannon but still did a triple 16 on the last hit! You’re trying to showcase your sport at the Olympics, so even if you fall you just go for it!

How rad is it that two British riders made the final, and only one American?

It’s a bit weird innit? We didn’t grow up on mountains like everyone else did, so to be up there with the best in the world… We’ve never backed down, we’ve always kept up with the best, and that’s probably what it’s going to be like for the next four years too.

Jamie with UK pipe hopeful Ben Kilner, who’ll be competing on Tuesday.

Your first run was amazing, but your second run was arguably better [Jamie opted for big floaty spins off the kickers after a wobble in the rail section]. What happened? Was it because you sketched on that first rail?

Yeah, it was all because of that. Once you make a mistake in a contest like this, you’re not going to get top results. I didn’t get the 270 out, so I was going switch and would have had to revert before the next rail. So I thought, “You know what? I’m just gonna do a massive 5, massive 3 and then a tweaky back 7 at the end. Danny Larsen tweeted me saying it was by far the best run of the Olympics! I wanted to go for cab 14, switch back 12 and backside triple 12, but I’d have needed to land all my rails clean for that. I’ve never even tried a switch back 12 in my life, but Ham talked me through it at the top and was like “just give it a rip!”

What did you think of the judging overall?

The top three were a little bit weird.

Would you have switched the order at all?

I don’t know. I’m stoked for Sage, the creativity he showed, but then Stale Sandbech‘s run was flawless. He did cab double 12, front 14 and back triple 14. Maxence too, you know – he did double 12, front double 10, triple 16…

There’s a theory that the FIS judges were perhaps over-compensating, due to their reputation for favouring inverts and big rotations. Were they making a deliberate point to reward flatspins and weird grabs?

I don’t know. The X Games seems to reward how many times you go upside down, so it’s nice to see people also spin flat too, like Stale. He did both, and that should be rewarded. For him it wasn’t just triple-double-triple, you can see he’s got it all dialled.

A lot of people said that Sage was a great winner for snowboarding as a whole. 

For Sage to win, it’s gonna help snowboarding a lot, for sure. His creativity and his weird grabs are great. It’s cool to see because it’s different, and inspiring!

How many Twitter followers did you say you’ve gained?

I was on 7,000 this morning, and now I’m on 11,500. My Facebook’s gone from 8,000 to 12,000. And it’s probably going to climb in the next two weeks. Billy’s followers have tripled!

What has today done for the future of British snowboarding?

I did this for myself, but more importantly I did it to inspire young kids who want to try snowboarding to give it a shot. And maybe one day I can help them become Olympic snowboarders. I’ve always been like that – I just signed up with Hemel Hempstead to push their kid’s camp. When I was young I was one of the only ones, but at the snowdomes these days there are so many little groms now and maybe one of them will get to the Olympics. And I just want to be there for them when they do it.


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