Defending Olympic women’s halfpipe champion Torah Bright has given herself quite a task at Sochi 2014, where she will be competing in the halfpipe, slopestyle and snowboard cross events. “It’s just snowboard,” says the Australian, taking the challenge in her stride.
“It’s all just snowboarding but there are very subtle differences,” says Torah Bright of the three events in which she will be competing at Sochi 2014. “Halfpipe helps slopestyle, slopestyle helps halfpipe, and boardercross is a combination of both and freeriding. You don’t pop off a jump. You suck it up. You want to get to the ground as fast as possible. It’s not just you and the halfpipe or you and the slopestyle course: it’s you and five others. There’s a whole new element there for me and a split-second reaction can be the difference between getting taken out or getting through. I get asked, why the three sports? And I say: ‘Why not? It’s all just snowboarding’. If I can find the fun in anything I do, I get the most out of myself. And that’s what happening with doing these three different disciplines. I’m challenging myself every single day that I’m on the mountain in ways that I haven’t been challenged in years, especially in the mental aspect.”
A flagbearer and a champion
After carrying the Australian flag at the Opening Ceremony at Vancouver 2010, Bright went out on Cypress Mountain and won the halfpipe gold in memorable style. Qualifying for the final in first place, she then crashed out on her opening run, but more than made up for it on her second, producing a superb switch backside 720 and scoring 45 points to top the podium ahead of the USA’s Olympic champions Kelly Clark (2002) and Hannah Tetter (2006). Reflecting on what was her country’s fourth Olympic Winter Games gold, she said: “It felt really good on that one day that counted to put down the run I wanted and for it to be the best on the day. It was huge.”
A Bright hope
Bright, who took the slopestyle bronze at the 2013 FIS Snowboarding World Championships in Stoneham (CAN), says that it was her brother and coach, Benny, who first suggested she try competing in all three disciplines “I said to him: ‘Oh my gosh, no. Way too hard’. But this year something sparked in me and I said I wanted to do it. I love snowboarding more than I ever have right now because of this challenge. There’s something really satisfying about being your best and trying to better yourself every day, about daring yourself to try something new and just being open to the universe and learning.”
The 26-year-old is the only athlete to attempt this remarkable treble at Sochi, but her experience and her refreshingly relaxed approach should serve her well: “Whether I win or not does not define who I am as a human or a snowboarder. It’s a contest. It’s just snowboarding.”
Follow Torah Bright on the Athlete's Hub