Thanks to Billy Morgan’s Big Air bronze, Team GB scoops a record Winter Olympics medal haul. With the highs come the lows: our awesome alpine foursome narrowly missed out on a spot in the mixed team semifinals and our ladies curlers missed out on bronze.
Feature Image: @billy_morgman (Instagram)
The 15th day of the Winter Olympics dawned bright for Billy Morgan, the 28-year-old from Southampton. Going into the final of the inaugural Olympic Big Air competition against some of the biggest names in the sport, he crashed out of his first of three jumps but remained confident and up for it.
He went large in the next two jumps, putting down the fourth-highest scoring jump of the day in the second round (82.50) and then landing a front-side 1440 triple with mute and tail-grab, which he’d never succeeded in doing in competition before, to bag the highest score in the last round (85.50). Then we had to wait and watch as some of the world’s best riders gave it their all to steal his podium place. When the competition favourite, Canada’s Max Parrot, failed to land his last jump, Billy’s bronze was in the bag, making him the second British rider to win an Olympic medal and helping Team GB make this Games officially Britain’s most successful ever Winter Olympics.
Billy, who has struggled with a knee injury and wasn’t even sure whether he’d be able to compete at PyeongChang, said: “I’m 28 years old and I’ve maxed the limit of what my body can be scared about. It’s the best feeling, the pay off after you do something you are scared about and you land on your feet, that’s why we do this. For that last trick I pushed all the fear to one side, I was like ‘even if I completely wreck myself it doesn’t matter, I’m just going to go and do it’.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite so well for the other Team GB athletes out on the snow and ice today. Our Alpine foursome (Dave Ryding, Laurie Taylor, Alex Tilley and Charlie Guest) brilliantly beat Team USA in the first heat of the Mixed Team event to go up against medal hopefuls Norway in the quarter-finals. Only Tilley and Ryding won their races, making for a two-all score against the Norwegians, which meant the outcome was determined by the best combined times of the fastest male and female. Falling 0.21 seconds short of the Norwegians meant the end of the road for Team GB while Norway went on to take the bronze medal. Nonetheless, Team GB’s resulting joint-fifth place overall (out of 16) is GB’s best Alpine skiing result in half a century and second-best Alpine skiing Winter Olympics result so bring on Tokyo 2022!
Our ladies curlers will also be looking ahead to the next Games after they lost out on a bronze medal to Japan. And, with both our men’s four-man bobsleigh teams out of medal contention, we regret to say it’s the end of the PyeongChang medal road for Team GB.
But let’s not end on a sad note: remember Ester Ledeka, the 22-year-old Czech snowboarder who took the Alpine world by surprise when she won gold in the Women’s Super-G (on a pair of skis borrowed from Mikaela Shiffrin)? This morning saw her win gold in the Snowboarding Parallel Giant Slalom, becoming the first woman to claim gold medals in two sports at a Winter Olympics. Even more impressive, she’s the fifth athlete to take gold in two sports at one Games but the first ever in unrelated events, with the previous double wins coming in Nordic events. Humble to the end, when she was asked if she was the “queens of the Games” her response was:
“I don’t feel like that but it sounds good, for sure.”