Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Sochi 2014: Aimee Fuller's high hopes

Great Britain's Aimee Fuller competes in the slopestyle qualification heats at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

No sooner had Aimee Fuller made her Winter Olympic debut in Sochi yesterday than she was off to meet royalty ahead of this evening's gala opening ceremony.

The 22-year-old from Bangor was one of four snowboarders to get Britain up and running at the Games with the men's and women's slopestyle qualification heats taking place on the day before the opening ceremony.

Drawn in the first of two heats for the women, Fuller was solid if unspectacular but she'll get another chance on Sunday to fight for a medal at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

With every entrant guaranteed a place in the semi-finals, Fuller was bidding for one of four direct places to the final in her heat although she finished 10th with a best first run of 44.50 points.

However Fuller wasn't letting it get her down as she rushed off to meet Princess Anne in Sochi while she confirmed that she will also attend this evening's opening ceremony.

"I think I might go and meet the Princess in a few hours. She's coming out, so that will be cool," she said.

"I'm also going to the opening ceremony and I'll practice as well, then we'll give it another go on Sunday and we'll see," Fuller added.

"The boys compete the next day (after the opening ceremony) so it is pretty much a no-go for them but I am definitely going to go and check it out.

"It is a once in a lifetime experience and I am just soaking it all in.

"I am enjoying myself.

"I definitely didn't get down what I wanted to get down so I am a little disappointed there.

"But I go up there to do the best run I could possibly do, and we'll see what happens on Sunday.

"It is slopestyle, anything can happen. The jumps are big so we'll see."

Fuller is no stranger to the big occasion having experienced the invite-only Winter X Games which, before snowboard slopestyle was added to the Olympic programme, was the main event.

Fuller insists her adventures in Sochi so far have outweighed anything she has done previously in her fledgling snowboarding career.

"I see the heats as a good building block for Sunday's semi-finals," she added.

"Riding in front of this big crowd is a completely new experience. Seeing and hearing the crowd was just crazy.

"I enjoyed every minute and when I didn't land (my second run) I still continued on and made the most of it. I had a good day.

"It is a huge step for women's snowboarding -- we have ridden big jumps before but this is definitely a step up.

"I think it is great for our sport for us to be riding on these big beasts."

In the men's event, Ireland's teen sensation Seamus O'Connor will be disappointed after he finished 13th in the second heat after failing to land his final jump on both runs.

The 16-year-old from San Diego, who has two Irish grandparents, will get another chance in tomorrow's semi-final showdown.

"My dad's side of the family are from Ireland, I feel very Irish and am very lucky to be here competing," he said.

O'Connor's father Kevin grew up in Britain, his parents hailing from Dublin and Drogheda, Co Louth.

O'Connor will also compete in the halfpipe event which gets under way on Tuesday.

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