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Jamie Nicholls, is a Bradford-born snowboarder who started out on his local dry slope in Halifax. Since joining the British Ski and Snowboard team at the age of 15, Jamie has travelled the world competing in snowboard competitions and filming snowboard stunts. Known particularly for his skills riding rails, he competed at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. In 2016, Jamie became the first British male to win a Snowboard World Cup at the Snow Jam in Czech Republic.
PARALLEL TRAILS: Let's rewind to the beginning of your story - how did you get started in winter sports?
JAMIE NICHOLLS: I started on a snowboard. I was seven years old. Halifax Ski and Snowboard Centre was the first place I ever went snowboarding. It was on Dendex, which was fun, and I remember my snowboard equipment was way too big for me. They never made kids stuff back then. My gloves were massive, I had to wear about a million pairs of socks so my boots fit and my board was towering above my head! But some of the best memories I've ever had were at the beginning.
PT: How did it come about that you started snowboarding - were your parents heavily involved?
JN: My parents were always into hiking and climbing and doing extreme sports kind of stuff, such as longboarding and surfing. The Halifax dry slope was five minutes down the road and we always used to pass it on the way to the supermarket and one day we were passing it and my birthday was coming, so I said I would love to have a go. I had my first lesson for my birthday and I was hooked from then on.
PT: The UK has a great network of dry slopes and indoor snow centres, so there's a real opportunity for children to get involved in skiing and snowboarding don't you think?
JN: I live two minutes away from the Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead now and I base myself there and I ride for the Snow Centre. It's a great place for kids to come and give freestyle a try. There's a really good atmosphere there and it is really family friendly. It is a great place to get into skiing and snowboarding - I've seen loads of kids start snowboarding there and now they are just ripping every freestyle night and progressing.
PT: So if a child gets hooked on snowboarding at somewhere like the Snow Centre, how do they progress on to doing jumps and rails?
JN: When I started there was a freestyle scene at Halifax and I got to know the people and they would give me feedback, suggesting maybe try a grab with that jump. You kind of slowly get into it that way. These days the slopes have freestyle academies where kids can try a bit of freestyle and special nights were they put out smaller features so people can just give it go.
PT: And if children are in a resort on a family holiday and they see a snowpark, is your message also give it go there too?
JN: Yeah, exactly. They've always got small, medium and large stuff in the parks. The best place to go and give freestyle a go would be Laax in Switzerland. It has an amazing freestyle scene there. Mayrhofen has always been a personal favourite of mine. But most mountains have a freestyle park now, so it's brilliant fun wherever you go. I'm not that fussed about going quick. I have quite a creative mind so in freestyle you can use features in different ways. In ski racing you're going for the quickest time but in freestyle it changes all the time.
PT: Do you think it is better for children to do a course of lessons and achieve badges or is it more about being out in the mountains with a smile on your face?
JN: I never got badges. I was just told by my instructor you can go on the big slope now. I loved the freedom of that and loved that I wasn't stuck to doing a course, doing this in order to do that. I just rode with my friends and saw where it took me.
PT: The profile of winter sports seems to be rising in the UK. Do you have to pinch yourself that you're able to do what you love as a job?
JN: I have a way of separating the two. When I am with my mates, I'll just go snowboarding. If I'm on a family holiday to the mountains I don't go to the park, I just ride with my family and friends. I enjoy that type of snowboarding as well. Going off massive jumps and spinning 1440s is a job and while I enjoy doing that I love riding powder with my mates too. That's way more fun for me. I enjoy snowboarding as a job, but also the social side of it too.
You can keep up to date with Jamie's adventures on Twitter and Instagram @jamienichollsuk
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