Jen boost for Aimee Fuller
Published 10/02/2014 | 08:30
Aimee Fuller watched teammate Jenny Jones become Britain's first ever Olympic medallist on snow and vowed that next time would be her big moment.
Fuller, 22, from Bangor, failed to make the final at the snowboard slopestyle in Sochi after placing ninth in the semis but was among the first to congratulate Jones, who claimed bronze in thrilling style.
Much was made of British hopes of ending a 90-year run without a medal on the white stuff in Sochi, but it was the teenage 'Fridge Kids', so dubbed because they learned their skills at the UK's indoor snow domes, that were expected to deliver.
Instead it was 33-year old snowboarder Jones who proved that even in a sport designed for the X-Box generation there are still some new tricks that old timers know.
"Jones is amazing, she's a legend in the sport and I'm so proud of her and I'm so proud to be her teammate," said Fuller (pictured).
"She's been a good friend to me ever since I started competing, she is a genuinely lovely person and I'm just so happy that she will get this recognition now for all she has done.
"She's the pioneer of women's snowboarding. She put it on the map for the UK and proved it was possible and that a bunch of Brits can compete against the world's best.
"It feels incredible to have a British snowboarder with an Olympic medal – I want one now!"
Fuller delivered on her promise to "go big" and 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.
However, she was delighted with her Olympic experience, which included a debut in the BBC commentary box and a royal audience with Princess Anne.
"I laid all my cards down on the table and went for it but it didn't quite work out," she added.
"I thought I'd go big or go home, it's the Olympics, the biggest contest on earth. I'm walking away happy and I've enjoyed my Olympic experience."
Sheffield duo James Woods and Katie Summerhayes are strong medal prospects in the ski slopestyle, and Jones is looking forward to cheering her friends on.
"I really hope getting the bronze medal has pumped a few people up," she said.
"I definitely know that the freestyle skier girls who I spoke to were very pleased to see me on the podium, they were all smiles and screams, which was really nice.
"In the next few days, I'll be able to go and support those guys in what is the equivalent – slopestyle for the skiers, that'll be really exciting," said the former chalet maid. "I absolutely did not think I would ever be in this position back then, when I was a chalet maid. I was cooking breakfasts, cleaning toilets."
Meanwhile Coleraine girl Jenna McCorkell's beaming smile said it all as four years of pain suddenly evaporated in Sochi.
McCorkell's Olympic journey has had more valleys than peaks – she missed the Games in Turin through injury and was 29th last time in Vancouver.
So it was clear to see why she punched the air with such delight after a season's best 50.09 in the short programme of the team figure skating.
"It was my season's best by 11 points and that's a big step up from the European Championships. I'm just proud to finally put a performance in at the Olympic Games," said McCorkell – although Britain missed out on the top five nations that advanced to the free skate.
"I did my absolute best and I was really relieved after what happened in Vancouver because that was such a massive disappointment to me."