“It’s just snowboarding”: Torah Bright’s boardercross experiment

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    Australian snowboarder Torah Bright AAP Image/Julian Smith

    The snowboard action returned to Sochi’s Rosa Khutor resort for the women’s boardercross event, the final stage in the trifecta of Torah Bright’s Olympic dreams.

    Torah fulfilled her quest to become the first snowboarder to compete in halfpipe, slopestyle and boardercross at the same Olympics and did so with all the grace of a true champion.

    Boardercross, as the name suggests is the snowboarding equivalent of a motocross race. Six riders are pitted against each other on a course of jumps, berms and woops in a minute and a half battle for the finish line.

    Torah grew up competing in boardercross as a junior, but until last year had never competed in the discipline at a professional level.

    Recently Torah revealed that in the lead up to the Olympics she didn’t have time to train in the halfpipe, as all of her focus was on preparing herself for the boardercross event. Not a bad effort for a silver medallist.

    While they are completely different disciplines of snowboarding, Torah’s background in halfpipe and slopestyle definitely helped in her campaign to represent Australia for boardercross as well.

    To be a successful boardercross racer requires one to be comfortable in the air along with strong edge control for the turns, a switched on spatial awareness and of course, a need for speed.

    Edge control is also an important attribute of successful halfpipe riding. Being able to hold your line from the bottom of the pipe and up the wall at top speed is basically what propels you into the air. Needless to say Torah already had this skill down pat.

    The size of the jumps on the boardercross course were not quite as big as those on the slopestyle course, so the airtime was never going to pose a problem for Torah either.

    Unlike the other two snowboarding disciplines that are judged, boardercross is a race, and like most race situations, you have no control over your other competitors. This factor is what would eventually bring an end to Torah’s Olympic campaign.

    Both Torah and fellow teammate Belle Brockoff were seeded into the same quarter-final heat as a result of their qualifying times. Not an ideal situation for Australia’s medal hopes, but one that couldn’t really be prevented.

    During the race Belle held down third position with Torah close on her tail in fourth. As the two neared a final corner, Torah accidentally nudged Belle as she was unable to wash off her speed, a common occurrence in the sport.

    Selflessly Torah pulled up, so as to not affect the semi-final chances of her teammate, bringing to an end her own Olympics campaign.

    In an interview afterwards Torah explained how happy she was to see Belle flying over the final jump, safe in the knowledge she hadn’t impeded her progress to the semi-finals.

    “My heart sunk because I thought, ‘I have just taken out my teammate. I am the worst Australian ever.”

    In the semi-final Belle Brockhoff was accidentally taken out by a Canadian rider and eventually secured eighth position in the consolation final.

    “That’s boarder cross”, explains Torah. “It’s so fricking fun and anything can happen!”

    At the end of the event both girls had huge smiles on their faces. Regardless of their final placing, they were satisfied with their performances.

    Asked if she would continue her boarder cross career, Torah shrugged: “You never know. This was a challenge and I did it. Everybody laughed at me and I said it’s just snowboarding.”

    Torah is really downplaying her own achievement here. Take into consideration the fact that Torah just qualified and competed in a discipline at an Olympic level with just over a year’s preparation and you really have to marvel at her ability and confidence to be able to do so.

    Torah’s reply, “it’s just snowboarding” gives you the ultimate insight into arguably the world’s most talented female snowboarder.

    Nothing for Torah is out of the question when it comes to snowboarding. Challenges are welcomed with open arms. Imagine if she did the full four-year’s worth of training for boardercross…

    Ryan Willmott is a former editor of Australian / NZ Snowboarder magazine with over 10 years of experience covering winter sport events.

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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • February 17th 2014 @ 2:43pm
      nickoldschool said | February 17th 2014 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

      Have to say for the first time I have been following closely all ‘fun disciplines’ which were introduced in the 90s or after and I really enjoyed them (bar the aerials, only ski ballet was worse for those who remember it).

      Last night boardercross was great and am glad the Czech girl won as she had been dominating all legs. Torah Bright? well have to say am not a fan of hers, the pre race dance moves, the post race interview etc, bit too ‘me, me, me” for…well me, but that’s what Ten wants so I guess she gives them what they want. Much preferred Belle, seemed like a nice, down to earth girl.

      Regarding Ten’s coverage, again last night was appalling: was looking forward to the Men Super G being live at 5pm on One but no, Ten execs felt a repeat of whatever happened the day before was better. right.

      Then we had men’s 4 X 10km cross country relay…well sort of. After catching the action live in the 2nd of 4 relay, One decided to switch to curling if I remember well…and we missed the last relay and last few minutes of the race! So again, we got the end of the race 30min-1hr after the event.

      I sometimes wonder if people in this network have ever attended or watched winter sports before winning the Olympics bid, seriously. Or are they taking the p@@s?!

      • February 17th 2014 @ 4:02pm
        Scuba said | February 17th 2014 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

        The alpine skiing is my favourite, so I wasn’t happy with the delay on the Super G. It isn’t a massively long event, and there’s no good reason why it shouldn’t have been shown. Good to see Jansrud win after his consistency in the earlier events.

        I’m guessing most people who wanted to tune into the boarder cross did so on ONE. Why there was a need to immediately replay the event (apart from the qualifying runs) on Ten I have no idea, Agree that Belle Brockhoff came across really well – too bad her father couldn’t show the same class with the timing of his attack on Alex Pullin.

        The treatment of the cross-country relay was abysmal – if you’re going to show the event, show it – don’t cut it off three-quarters of the way through.

        Then, to top it all off, at one point both stations were showing Roy and HG. That’s about when I switched off.

        • February 17th 2014 @ 4:51pm
          nickoldschool said | February 17th 2014 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

          hahah really? I hadn’t noticed Roy & HG were on both! Same here, followed the end of the cross country online then watched it delayed but yes, I was mad.

          When a network gets its 2 channels on a multi-discipline comp like the Olympics one would expect to always (ok most of the time) get 2 different events live at the same time. Not with Ten. Why? I sincerely don’t know. I have tried to understand their strategy but have given up.

    • Roar Guru

      February 17th 2014 @ 9:26pm
      Ryan Willmott said | February 17th 2014 @ 9:26pm | ! Report

      I agree Nick. Tonight while the boarder cross was on hold for the weather to clear they crossed to endless hours of curling and all I could think was somebody at this network is surely taking the piss.

      • February 18th 2014 @ 11:42am
        Scuba said | February 18th 2014 @ 11:42am | ! Report

        Ryan, I might be wrong but I think that, due to the conditions at the time, the curling was actually the only live event up and running. As much as Ten has done a poor job I’m not sure they can be blamed this time.

    • February 18th 2014 @ 5:29pm
      MichaelJ. said | February 18th 2014 @ 5:29pm | ! Report

      Torah Bright’s a doll.

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