Is It All Over For GB’s Billy Morgan?
21st April 2020 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Last modified on May 26th, 2020
Reports earlier this week suggested the Olympic medallist and GB Snowsport athlete had called time on his competitive snowboarding career at the age of 31. Not quite, he tells PlanetSKI.
Morgan made sporting history when he won the bronze medal in the inaugural Big Air event at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018.
He was the first British man to win an Olympic medal on snow and followed in the footsteps of fellow GB snowboarder Jenny Jones, who won bronze in the Slopestyle event at Sochi 2014.
Since Pyeongchang, Morgan has had an extended period away from elite competition, entering events for fun and taking the many opportunities that have resulted from his Olympic success.
According to some news reports, he’s calling time on his elite career and will not defend his medal at the Beijing 2022 Games.
“The competition thing is over for me now,” Morgan told PA’s Olympics Correspondent, Mark Staniforth.
“I hit a wall with being able to compete at a high level and I needed a change of scene. I will still be doing the fun contests but I will not be going to the next Olympics.”
His decision not to put himself through the gruelling and stressful Olympic qualification process for a third time did not come as a complete surprise to us at PlanetSKI.
But we wanted to find out more about Billy Morgan’s future from the man himself.
And it turns out that any talk of ‘retirement’ is premature.
He’s not even ruling out competing at the top level again. He just doesn’t want to be tied to the World Cup circuit and everything that goes with Olympic qualification.
Since we’re all living under lockdown, we spoke to him at the home he shares with his pregnant girlfriend Sammy-Jo in Southampton via a Zoom video call.
Watch the video to find out more about his immediate and long-term plans on and off snow, impending fatherhood, and how he’s coping with the lockdown:
Watch Billy Morgan entertaining himself with some impressive press ups in his garden during lockdown….
And some ‘Red Bull’ backflips….
The Billy Morgan Story
A relative latecomer to the sport, Billy Morgan first picked up a snowboard when he was 14 at his local dry slope in his home town of Southampton.
His early life as an acrobatic gymnast had prepared him well for freestyle.
In 2011 he became the first snowboarder to land a triple backside rodeo 1260.
In 2015 he was the first to land the biggest trick in snowboarding – a backside quad cork 1800.
Despite these world firsts, Morgan has not made the podium as often as you might imagine for such a supreme talent.
Before Pyeongchang, his greatest competitive achievement was a bronze at the prestigious X Games in Oslo in 2016.
Olympic bronze at Pyeongchang was his big reward.
“It’s the payoff. I’ve done this for a long time and I haven’t got that many medals,” he said at the time.
“I’ve got a bronze in the X-Games… I thought that would be my big thing, but it looks like this is it.”
Morgan had gone into the Pyeongchang Big Air final with only the 7th best score of the 12 riders.
Morgan was 11th after round one.
He moved up to 8th after round 2.
Few thought he would get on the podium with his last and final jump, but a massive double grab frontside triple cork did it.
It’s a trick he’d never done in competition before and he’d fallen four times in practice for the final.
We have met and interviewed Billy Morgan on several occasions over the years, including when he flew into Heathrow after winning his Olympic bronze medal, and also few months later at The BRITS in Laax.
We have heard about – and occasionally witnessed for ourselves – some of his notorious off-snow antics.
A few have been been reported.
They include marking his Olympic debut in Sochi by dancing with a toilet seat around his neck, and balancing the Union flag on his chin at the Pyeongchang closing ceremony.
Other antics should probably stay under wraps…..
But while Morgan’s stamina for partying is legendary, the riding is the thing.
He has often spoken about the effect the sport has had on his body and the fear he feels wondering if he will land a big trick.
His decision to step back – just a little – from the pressure of high-level competition will give him more time to snowboard for fun.
But it looks as if Billy Morgan will be around for a while yet.
And we are very glad to hear it.