Q&A: Checking in with Chumpy
We get an update from Suzuki ambassador and snowboard-cross world champion Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin on life since the 2014 Winter Olympics – and what he’s working towards now.
What have you been up to since the Sochi Games?
Lots of things: I had a short bit of downtime to get home and do the things I can’t do during winter – hang out with my girlfriend, catch up with my family and do one or two camping trips, which is something I’m really fond of. But I’m back into training now and I’ve had ankle surgery, which I elected to take because of an old injury.
We’ve also just had the Suzuki National Snowsport Championships. That’s probably the best part of the southern winter. It combines with the SSA Futures camp – which is the next generation of our sport coming together – and I like to get in, help them out and give some direction where I can.
How was it being Australia's flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the Sochi Games?
Yeah, huge! Not expected at all. I’d never dreamt of being a flag bearer, even right up to that point. It was a huge honour, and I didn’t take the opportunity for granted one bit. It’s hard to describe, but I know I felt a lot of things when we walked out on the night.
What were your thoughts on the Games overall?
The one thing that can maybe be a bit of a buzz kill for the Olympics is to expect too much, or expect one certain thing. When it comes down to it, we’re an outdoor sport that relies heavily on conditions. Unfortunately, when it got to our event, we copped horrible, horrible weather. I never try to expect too much, but it really was a bummer. You come all the way to the Olympics, you realise that the whole world is tuned into your sport, and you want to showcase it. I still had fun and went 100 per cent. You can hope for the best, but you always have to expect the worst nonetheless, just in case it does happen on the day.
Are you gearing up for the 2018 Olympic Games?
Certainly, in the long term. The next Olympics feel pretty far from now, and there’s a lot in between that I’ve got my eyes on, too. We’ve got World Championships, which in my opinion is a tough one to win. I’m world champion at the moment, and I’m looking forward to going in and fighting to defend that title in January. The other one for us is the World Cup overall champion – which is the most consistent rider of that whole season. I’ve won two of them, and I know those trophies are really, really tough to get your hands around. That is probably the most rewarding result I could imagine. I say imagine, because I’ve won World Championships and I’ve won Crystal Globes, but I haven’t won a gold medal, so I don’t know what that feels like yet.
Can you offer tips for anyone thinking about getting into snowboard cross?
The one thing I’d say about boarder cross is that it combines as many snowboarding skills as possible. It’s got the speed, the jumps and freestyle background, and the racing element with other people. The best way to train for that at an early stage – when you might not have the opportunity to get into a course or start gate – is to get out with some mates and race down a mountain at full speed. It really improves your snowboarding skills: jumping, getting close to each other and racing down the cat track. Those are the skills you’ll use all the way along.