Chumpy chasing elusive gold

10 July 2013

Australia’s own Alex “Chumpy” Pullin heads into next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi as the man to beat.

Since missing out on a medal at the Vancouver 2010 Games, Pullin set himself the target of being the best in the world. He achieved this feat the following year, winning the snowboard cross World Championship in La Molina and being crowned the overall 2011 World Cup winner. Repeating this feat two years later was unprecedented, etching his name into the history books.

With seven finals from seven races, the World Championship victory and the World Cup title, 2013 was what Pullin described as “the perfect season”, one in which he executed flawless race plans and set the groundwork for his Olympic campaign.

“The season was great,” Pullin said. “Getting my second World Championship title, back to back from my last, was just an incredible feeling and one of the best days of my life.”

Pullin’s rise to the top is in no part due to good fortune. The 25-year-old has dedicated everything to being the best and has spent the last two years perfecting every aspect of his sport.

“There is a lot involved in the strength and fitness in our sport,” Pullin said of boardercross. “The more strength and explosive power that I can put on the better. The endurance shows at every event. It did this season and I just plan on being stronger and more ready again for the next season. It also allows me to improve my technique, which is probably where I get most of my gains.”

Snowboard cross is physically a unique sport. It requires sprint fitness to complete the course which takes up to a minute and a half at maximum effort, but it also requires aerobic endurance as athletes progress through a series of races to reach the finals and they do this week after week through long winter seasons.

In addition to working on his fitness and technique, Pullin has been heavily involved in the design of his board.

“Board and equipment design is massive in my sport,” he said.

“It really has become so technical. In a sport which is racing head to head combat, everyone is looking for 0.01 of a second advantage if they can.

“What I have come up with finally is a board that is really good at speed, stability and feels really natural underneath my feet. It’s unreal to have that at this time and having been able to ride it a whole season before the Olympics, have a good amount of success on it and feel really happy with that going into the Olympics.”

Six months out from his second Games, Pullin now finds himself satisfied with his equipment and maintaining his peak physical condition for a shot at the elusive Olympic gold.

“It is exactly where I wanted to be and I’m really satisfied that I’m in the right place,” Pullin said. “It takes a lot of thoughts and doubts out of the process now because we know we are really well set up. It’s a good place to be.”

And more than just being physically and technically prepared, Pullin is passionate about his sport, something which is clearly reflecting in his results.

“I’m just enjoying it, more than ever. I am having so much fun - I love the racing. It seems to get better and better, every tour we do.”

Pullin is currently preparing for the southern hemisphere season with training and competition in both Australia and New Zealand, before heading back overseas in November to secure qualification for Sochi and get in the best possible form ahead of his tilt at Olympic glory.

Alice Wheeler

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