• Winter Olympics

Nicholls takes sixth in slopestyle, Morgan 10th

ESPN staff
February 8, 2014
Nicholls' performance drew the praise of Wimbledon champion Andy Murray © Getty Images

Jamie Nicholls earned the highest ever finish for a British man in an Olympic snow sport event after coming sixth in the slopestyle on day one of the Winter Games in Sochi.

Nicholls, a 20-year-old from Yorkshire, was in second place and in a good position to win a medal after a first run score of 85.50, but he slipped down the field after a poor second run.

Team-mate Billy Morgan fell on both runs and finished four places below his friend in 10th.

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It allowed American Sage Kotsenburg to win the first ever Olympic gold in the discipline, which took place in the Rosa Khutor mountains.

Kotsenburg scored 93.50 points, while Norway's Staale Sandbech took silver with 91.75. Canadian Mark McMorris earned bronze with a score of 88.75.

"I'm really proud," Nicholls told BBC Sport. "It feels amazing, I wanted to put down the best run of my life - and to have Billy in the final with me, I'm so stoked."

Two-time half-pipe champion Shaun White withdrew from the event after claiming it was a "little intimidating", but Morgan, from Southampton, believes the final was one of the best.

"It was the most ridiculous snowboarding I've ever seen in my life today," the 24-year-old said.

Despite a poor performance in the final, Morgan revealed he was just happy to be taking part after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in his right knee in September.

"I came through unscathed and am so proud to have been out there, but I'm in this sport for the long haul and hopefully I can come back in four years' time and finish a bit higher," he added.

Team GB snowboarders Jenny Jones, a three-time X Games gold medallist, and Aimee Fuller will compete in the women's semi-finals on Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway equalled the record for most medals won at the Winter Games after winning the biathlon 10km sprint. It is the 12th medal for Bjoerndalen, who matched countryman Bjoern Daehlie's record.

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