Fuller goes ‘big’ but just misses slopestyle final

Northern Ireland's Aimee Fuller in the semi final of the Snowboard Slopestyle event in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
Northern Ireland's Aimee Fuller in the semi final of the Snowboard Slopestyle event in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Bangor’s Aimee Fuller delivered on her promise to ‘go big’ but failed in her bid to make snowboarding’s slopestyle final at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The 22-year-old nearly pulled off her trademark double back flip but a slight error on landing meant she ranked ninth in the semi-final, with only the top four progressing to join the eight riders who advanced directly from the qualifiers.

Fuller then showed there’s more to her talents than just snowboarding as she provided colour (and colourful) commentating for BBC Sport on the final and was an instant hit on social media.

She fought back the tears as she commented on her Team GB team mate Jenny Jones winning a bronze medal.

“Get your history books and record this moment. Our girl, Jenny Jones, has done it,” announced Fuller.

She later added on Twitter, “I can’t stop crying! What a day. Slopestyle semis and then in the booth going wild for our girl!”

Jones is eleven years older than Fuller and the hope is that the girl from North Down will be inspired for what lies ahead by her Olympics debut and by her friend’s success.

“I laid all my cards down on the table and went for it but it didn’t quite work out. I thought I’d go big or go home, it’s the Olympics, the biggest contest on earth,” said Fuller.

“I’m walking away happy and I’ve enjoyed my Olympic experience. I landed the double back flip but I put my hand down on landing and I had to miss the last jump, that’s what cost me.”

Slopestyle, a new discipline for Sochi, has been the early hit of the Games, with Wimbledon champion Andy Murray among those hooked watching on television.

“I really hope we’ve inspired some of the younger generation to stick a snowboard on their feet and have a go. It’s a great sport,” added Fuller.

“It’s the most fun sport and people in the sport are so friendly. It’s like travelling around the world with a great big family.”

Irish snowboarder Seamus O’Connor missed out on a place in the men’s final on Saturday.

American-born O’Connor, who has an English father a Russian mother and Irish grandparents, finished ninth out of 20 starters after following up a 60.75 score with a 70.25 run second time around but he landed his first ever triple on his final jump. “I’m over the moon,” he said.

“Two days ago, I tried my first ever triple which didn’t go the way we planned.

“Then on my second run here, I tried it again on the last jump and I landed it, which is my first ever landing triple, which is amazing for me.

“I couldn’t be happier.”

O’Connor’s Olympic experience is not over yet as he will compete in the halfpipe event later in the week.

It was also good weekend for Coleraine’s Jenna McCorkell who finally avenged painful memories of her last Olympic appearance to wear a wide and relieved smile.

McCorkell, the 11-time British champion, was left in tears after falling during the short programme in Vancouver four years ago, meaning she didn’t get to perform her free skate.

But she produced a solid routine to score a season’s best 50.09 in the short programme of the team figure skating competition - fuelling her confidence ahead of her individual event later in the Games.