Team GB Exclusive: Snowboarder Morgan on 'the fear' and feeling the pressure

Team GB Exclusive: Snowboarder Morgan on 'the fear' and feeling the pressure

09 December 2016 / 07:49

Snowboarder Billy Morgan defies gravity and explanation, he is quick-witted and confident but also admits to being shy with nagging moments of self-doubt. 

billymorganGettyImages-467764781All of which seems a little hard to believe when you see him flying, twisting and spinning through the air without an apparent care.

It’s five years since he became an internet sensation when he landed the first Triple Backside Rodeo 1260 and in 2014 he made the first-ever Olympic men’s snowboard slopestyle final in style, posting the top score in qualifying.

But, in the end, he fell on both his runs and ranked tenth, a gold or bust mentality underlining his approach to the sport, especially when a repeat of his semi-final score would have won him bronze.

Morgan though is a ‘go hard or go home’ sort of guy - his spirit is not measured in halves and last year he became the first man to land the big one, a Quad Cork 1800 - which features five dizzying rotations in just under three seconds.

“I think some people don’t get ‘the fear’ but I get it more now than before. Just being a bit older I get ‘the fear’ a bit more,” admits Morgan, 27, as he contemplates another season of pushing the boundaries.

“When you are attempting a really big trick, you just worry about it all the time. When I go to bed, sometimes I find it hard to get to sleep because I’m just fretting about stuff in my head.

“But when that moment comes where you know you’re going to try it, you don’t really have time to be worrying about how scared you are. However, I definitely feel the pressure.”

For someone with instant likability and apparently effortless cool, Morgan, it seems, is a big worrier. 

In Sochi the underside of his board was emblazoned with the words ‘I’m having more fun that you’ - which certainly looked the case to most observers.

This year he won a first-ever X Games medal with a bronze in Oslo and just last weekend he gained invaluable Olympic qualifying points with a third place finish at the Big Air World Cup event in Monchengladbach, Germany.  

“We’re always trying to do whatever we can that day to be better – whether it’s a day at the gym or a hard day’s riding where we’re progressing and doing new tricks,” he said.

“The Olympics is just that one moment where you’d hope that all your stuff comes together but it can be hard because there are so many factors that come into it. I mean, what if I get injured three months before the Games like I did in 2014?

“I loved Sochi and the Olympic experience but if I known about all the people that were rooting for me it would definitely have put pressure on, and I don’t need any more pressure because it’s very hard out there.

“I just stress about the competitive stuff and I don’t enjoy that so much. It’s the stuff that goes around it that’s fun and I get to go to cool places with friends. Competitions are really stressful - they hurt and they’re scary.”

billymorganGettyImages-467791737However, Morgan knows the next few weeks will be crucial to his Olympic ambitions, with every World Cup stop a chance to pick up the points needed to guarantee a place in PyeongChang.

He’s expecting it to be stressful and predicting there will be pressure, two words he clearly doesn’t like much, although already banking a podium finish does make things a little easier.

“The fun of snowboarding comes from when the season’s done and when you’ve done well at contests,” he adds. “That’s when you push yourself and learn new tricks.

“I love the end of the season when it’s warm and we’re riding and we’ve got jumps with soft landings, and we can throw tricks that we would normally worry about throwing because the conditions are perfect – that’s the best snowboarding there, when it’s really fun.

“I get the same feeling from that as when I was doing seasons back in the day, when I just rode for the fun of it. I never knew that I’d end up going to competitions, like the Olympics, I never even thought about that.”

By James Toney, Sportsbeat

Sportsbeat 2016

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