In the Spotlight: Billy Morgan

14 Sept 2022

British snowboarding champion Billy Morgan relishes every opportunity to get back on the S1-X to compete in the inaugural eSkootr Championship. It’s been a challenging start for the Olympic medallist, who freely admits that while he has the pace, he needs to work on his race craft to compete for outright victories in the world’s first electric scooter series.

Morgan is currently ranked just outside the top 10 in the rider standings after the first two races in London and Switzerland, but as the leading rider for Formula 1 racer Nico Hulkenberg’s 27X team, he’s hoping to continue to climb up the leaderboard.

“I’ve spent the last 12 years of my life competing at the highest level of sport and I know that you have to take the losses as well as the victories,” says Morgan. “Crashing out of one race isn’t the end of the world. I’ve been in competition for a long time, so I’m quite level about the whole thing. The target now is to train to improve in the right areas.”

Billy Morgan typically leads with his leg for extra balance. Many riders have started to copy the style.

Thanks to his eye-catching riding stance, whereby Morgan trails a leg over the kerb on the inside of corners, in addition to his laidback manner, he has become something of a crowd favourite in the opening rounds of eSC. As a self-confessed adrenaline junkie, Morgan rose to fame in extreme sports when he became the first snowboarder to land a backside 1800 quadruple cork and he also won a bronze medal for Team GB at the Korean Winter Olympics in 2018.

From the slopes to the racetrack, Morgan impressed in pre-season testing when he transitioned to the 100km/h S1-X eSkootr with relative ease. But the Southampton-based rider admits that when the first world championship event took place in London, he noticed the competition ramped-up in earnest.

“When the first heats began in London you noticed that things got very serious out on the race track. You could tell how invested riders were by their emotions when they returned back to the pits afterwards,” says Morgan.

“It’s about investing energy and that’s where you see the top line competitors are very committed. Look at someone like Danny Skinner. He’s really taken the time to maximise this opportunity, he has lost a lot of weight and is really focused on this sport. I tip my hat to him, for sure.”

Despite not getting the results he had hoped for by crashing out of the Quarter Final stage in the London season-opener and not progressing as far on the tricky Sion street course, Morgan has thoroughly enjoyed racing in the first two rounds of eSC.

Billy's easy-going approach has made him a fan favourite. Here, he chats to eSC host Marcus Bronzy.

“To be able to jump on these awesome electric scooters and race around city streets with people from different sporting backgrounds is great fun. I’m loving the new challenge,” says the 33-year-old. “Even though we’re on separate teams and competing against each other, we have all had such a blast at the events we have done so far. Part of that has been down to the popularity of the sport. It’s a really cool experience and it’s something that has great potential to grow and attract a wider audience.”

The new accessible and sustainable micromobility sport of eSC has been 18 months in the making and held its first-ever races earlier this year. Thirty riders from diverse backgrounds compete across 10 teams on circuits at speeds up to 100km/h, showcasing the future of urban mobility and road safety through spectacular elimination-style racing. Currently leading the championship is Indian rider Anish Shetty, who holds a slender five-point margin over Frenchman Aymard Vernay.

Morgan notes that some of the younger riders that hail from a motorsports environment have an edge, but his own background in board sports have given him an advantage in other areas with regards to the intense racing that has taken place so far this season.

“Some of the younger riders have the ability to learn faster and have quicker muscle memory than I have. But where I have an advantage over them is in my physicality. I'm very lucky that from a young age, I was trained as an acrobat. So I feel even if I live a sedentary lifestyle and I sit and do nothing, my baseline fitness is really good and I’m lucky that I don’t put weight on.

“That said I’m always cycling or skateboarding, so jumping on an eSkootr for an eight minute heat is not physically demanding for me as it is for some others,” adds Morgan. “But I am sweating and getting out of breath at the end of races so additional cardio fitness would benefit me – but my biggest problem is what’s going on upstairs…”

Billy Morgan leans into a tight corner in Sion, Switzerland.

While individual pursuit and single-lap riding is one thing, the difficulty in racing is being able to handle all the other variables on the track: the wheel-to-wheel dicing, managing the boost, being conservative enough to qualify from the heats, pushing for a points finish, defending a position. The act of racing becomes more of a mental pursuit than a physical one.

“During the race everything is happening very quickly,” says Morgan. “When I’m snowboarding, I know exactly what I’m doing and where I am going. I practice the exact tricks again and again and the variables don’t change – except for the wind speed and direction.

“Suddenly with racing, there are other competitors around you and everything is changing so quickly. You’re in second place with everything under control and very quickly you can run wide or get pushed aside in a corner and now you’re fourth with it all to do, to qualify from your heat.

“This is my biggest problem as my race craft is technically zero. It’s completely alien to me. That’s what I need to learn.”

27X team owner Nico Hulkenberg

After being given some advice from his team owner, Formula 1 racer Nico Hulkenberg, Morgan knows he has to hone his mental preparation to be able to withstand the pressures of intense wheel-to-wheel action. Having a mentor like Hulkenberg is an invaluable asset for any competitor and Morgan has been training to help his race craft in time for the next round of eSC world championship.