Sochi 2014: Morgan takes cautious approach to season opener
August 17, 2013 12:25 pm
Billy Morgan excels in a sport where fortunes favours the bold but he may go against his instincts in the weeks to come.
British snowboarder Morgan underlined his Winter Olympic credentials last season with a fourth place at the World Championships and first World Cup podium in his specialty slopestyle discipline.
Those performances should secure him his Sochi qualification, meaning he'll be able to use the World Cup season - in which team-mates will be desperate for all important points - as a chance to experiment.
"I've got a good ranking, I'll try to do the best I can in the World Cups but if something is risky then I probably won't risk injuring myself," said Morgan, who makes his season debut this weekend in New Zealand, after spending the summer recovering from a knee injury.
"I'm not 100 percent qualified but I'm ranked second, so unless something stupid happens, I should be there."
Slopestyle involves riders perfecting a series of thrills and spills tricks down a trail pitted with different obstacles - and is tipped to be one of the big hits of the Games when it makes its Olympic debut in Russia.
And Morgan - who won his first international title at the London Freeze event in Battersea last year - believes he is refining a repertoire of tricks to make him competitive.
"There has a lot of hype and buzz around me after I won in London," he added.
"Since getting my World Cup podium it's made me believe I can get a medal at the Olympics, it's given me the drive to keep working hard.
"I need to learn all my jumps and it's about putting it down on the run when it matters.
"There are so many strong riders, 20 people could rock up an the Olympics and win it. You can play it safe and finish midfield or throw down your best tricks and go for gold and that's the most exciting thing.
"We're always trying to push the boundaries of our sport."
Meanwhile, Katie Ormerod is putting studies on hold as she bids to qualify for Team GB in the women's slopestyle discipline.
Two-time X Games gold medallist Jenny Jones, 18 years her senior, is also going for selection but nothing appears to phase the Yorkshire teenager - who announced her intentions by landing a double backflip last season, making her only the fifth woman in the world to have pulled off the trick.
Ormerod, just 15, was the youngest rider at last year's World Championships and placed tenth and her current world ranking of 25 is just one place outside the position needed for Sochi selection.
"My main priority is snowboarding, I'd like to continue with my school studies but Sochi is the target and I'm right on the cusp," she said, ahead of her season debut in New Zealand.
"I've been prepping the double backflip for some time, I do a lot of gymnastics at home and I just went for it and I landed it.
"It's good to know that I've got that as a trick now and I can put it into a competition."
© Sportsbeat 2013