Winter Olympics: Billy Morgan gets bronze

Billy Morgan celebrates
Billy Morgan celebrates

Four years after hanging a toilet seat around his neck during a memorable apres-ski in Sochi, Billy Morgan will replace it with an Olympic medal after soaring to a shock bronze in the men's Big Air final in Pyeongchang.

His success earned the 28-year-old former acrobat an unlikely place in history as the man who guaranteed Great Britain their best Winter Olympics with a fifth medal of the Pyeongchang Games.

Morgan had crashed on the first of his three jumps, meaning it was imperative he landed both his next two in an event in which the medals are decided by the cumulative total of their two best scores.

He nailed his problematic big trick - which he described as a "front-side 14 triple with mute and tail-grab, but essentially a triple cork frontside wipe" - to score 85.50 which put him into the third place on 168.00. It was a position which, despite 10 athletes still to go, remarkably sustained.

When Canadian Max Parrot fell on his final run, ruling him out of contention, Morgan's extraordinary achievement was confirmed, sparking wild celebrations amongst his support staff at the foot of the jump.

"I didn't think I could win a medal," conceded Morgan. "I had Torgeir (Bergrem) and Max to come and they're rad riders, they never fall over - and they did.

"I had some good luck on the day but that's what makes the sport so interesting - you can do a trick 100 times but fall on that day."

Since Morgan had finished a disappointing 10th in qualifying for the men's slopestyle on the opening day of the Games, he had taken an unconventional approach to preparations for his second event.

"We had an early night last night," said GB Snowboard coach Hamish McKnight.

"We spent yesterday out on the coast riding electric motorbikes in the woods. We got into a bit of trouble but I don't think we damaged anyone.

"Billy proves you don't have to be a cold-hearted machine to be an Olympic medallist. He parties at the right times - and the wrong times.

"We've not had big parties since we've been here. Billy tends to pick and choose when to party. The problem is his definition of a party is a bit further than anyone else's."

What made Morgan's success all the more remarkable were the injury issues that had threatened his participation in Pyeongchang. He had competed in Sochi without an anterior cruciate ligament, and subsequent needed substantial knee reconstruction two years ago.

Morgan's brash and confident demeanour belies an unexpected nervousness which Morgan says contributes to his need to fill his preparation time with semi-notorious social activities.

"I come from the last generation of snowboarders who can get away with it (partying)," he added.

"I get scared a lot and I worry about it and it does help to have a couple of drinks and not think about the scary stuff I have to do. I'm 28 years old and I've maxed the limit of what my body can be scared about.

"Today I was like, even if I completely wreck myself it doesn't matter. I'm going to go and do it. Normally, if I'm worried, I'll just pie it off and go home. But today I was just, I'm going to go out and send it for the boys."

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