SKATEBOARDING on the streets of Southampton has helped give Billy Morgan the skills to become the city's first Winter Olympian.

The Shirley snowboarder is on course to represent Great Britain at Sochi 2014, after developing into one of the world’s best freestylers.

Slopestyle - where the aim is to perform the most difficult tricks from the biggest jumps - will make its Winter Olympic debut in both the ski and snowboard disciplines in February.

Currently ranked as the second-best snowboard slopestyler on the planet, Billy’s world has changed irrevocably in the last 15 months, following two stunts in training that have gone viral on YouTube.

Last January, he became the world’s first snowboarder to perform the Triple Rodeo on the slopes of Keystone National Park, Colorado.

As the name suggests, it involves three mid-air rotations and is fast approaching one million views on You Tube.

Not content with that, Billy was at it again six weeks ago, becoming the first Briton to complete the ‘Backside Triple Cork 1440’, in Colorado’s Breckenridge Park.

“No-one else has done the Triple Rodeo but for me it was the easier of the two – I was more pleased with the Backside Triple because it’s the sort of trick you have to perform consistently to stay at the top,” explains Billy. “It basically involves four spins with three inverted rotations throughout.

“After doing lots and lots of doubles going for the triple became easier to visualise, but before trying it I had a blind spot at the end and didn't know how it would go.

“Both tricks were scary, more people would have done them if they weren’t a crazy thing to do, but they happened to suit me.”

Billy is currently licking snowboarding-inflicted wounds at home in Shirley, which is also a chance to catch up with his older brother Ashley and parents, Eddie and Joanne, following a nomadic winter.

“My mum prefers not to know exactly what I do,” he smiles. “I’ve had concussion and a few broken bones before and am recovering from a ruptured cruciate ligament, but before jumps you have to convince yourself you’re going to be all right and that what you’re doing is realistic and not stupid.

“If I can visualise myself doing something I do it. There are a lot of tricks other riders can do that I can’t.”

Billy’s high-profile stunts were performed in practice but he has already qualified for the Winter Olympics, having won his first World Cup medal, a bronze at the season’s finale in Sierra Nevada.

“I didn’t expect to get on the podium but I’ve been working on my tricks all season and it’s so good to get closer to Sochi,” he said after what was only his third World Cup appearance.

While most of his rivals have been practising on the white stuff since their early schooldays, Billy has taken a more unorthodox route to the top.

“My skateboarding and acrobatic gymnastic background helps, but I didn’t start snowboarding until I was 14 and didn’t have a go on snow until I was 17,” he reveals.

“Most of the people I ride against have been doing it on snow since they were five or six.”

This time next year, the Southampton Alpine Centre could lay claim to a Winter Olympic medallist.

It was on their artificial slope in Thornhill Road that Billy first transferred his skating skills from the backstreets of Shirley.

“I did two years of messing around on dry slopes, but it was only when I went away for my first winter season that my snowboarding took off,” he continues. “I went to the French Alps with a friend and really learnt how to handle a snowboard.”

Now 23, Billy is at his peak, but nearly gave up on his dream two years ago. “I was getting poorer by the day and was thinking of quitting as it’s hard to be at a competitive level when you’re worrying about financial stuff,” explains the former Bellemoor schoolboy, whose feats have since helped attract sponsors that include Quiksilver and Redbull.

“But after competing at the British Championships, people started to take notice of me and my profile shot up.

“UK Sport started funding the British team and with the World Cup events being on Ski Sunday and the Olympics coming up more sponsors have come on board. “I’m grateful it’s taken off, I’ve met some great people through snowboarding and it’s taken me across the world, to New Zealand, America, Canada and all over Europe.”

Hopefully Billy’s talents soar to new heights in Russia, ten months hence.