With less than two weeks until the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, Australian Snowboard Champion Torah Bright has already created her own slice of history. She will contest a remarkable three snowboard events in Russia
SNOWBOARD: With less than two weeks until the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, Australian Snowboard Champion Torah Bright has already created her own slice of history. She will contest a remarkable three snowboard events in Russia following confirmation of her place in the Snowboard Cross field.
No snowboarder has ever competed in three events at the same Olympics before.
"I am thrilled and cannot wait to seize my moments in Sochi!" Bright, who carried the Australian Flag at the Vancouver Olympics Opening Ceremony, said on Australia Day.
"A year ago I started the journey where I dared myself to qualify for 3 snowboard events in the Olympics. This is an Olympic journey done my way.
"More than anything it's about sharing the sport I love with the world. This has been a journey of exploring what is possible for me on my snowboard and challenging myself like never before. Today I can say that I realised that goal."
On Thursday she was officially selected to the 2014 Australian Olympic Team to defend her Halfpipe crown and contest the new Slopestyle discipline, for which she won bronze at the 2013 World Championships. Slopestyle involves tricks through a course of jumps and rails.
Bright was third reserve for the head-to-head racing Snowboard Cross event and needed other countries to give back their quota place. This has happened and the 27-year-old from Cooma in New South Wales was officially confirmed in the field of 24, joining teammate Belle Brockhoff.
Torah's brother and coach Ben was the one who concocted the challenge for this her third Olympic Games.
"Like any athlete there is a team behind them. In my case, my team is my brother and I. I could not have done it without his vision that powered this journey!"
A year ago her Halfpipe and Slopestyle qualification looked secure so she travelled from event to event to earn enough rankings points in the very different head-to-head racing discipline. At the final Snowboard Cross World Cup of the qualification period two weeks ago she placed eighth.
Bright has taken the gruelling qualification schedule in her stride.
"It's all just snowboarding, so I've been enjoying very much. There has been a lot of travel and a lot of events. But being on this journey has given me so much joy, that it's made all the hard work, long days and busy schedule enjoyable and worth it! And as they say, nothing worthwhile is ever easy."
In December Bright beat her big American Halfpipe rivals Kelly Clark (2002 Olympic champion) and Hannah Teter (2006 Olympic champion), to win the Dew Tour. Clark and Teter will only contest the one event at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park outside Sochi.
Following the Dew Tour win, this month Bright placed tenth at a Slopestyle World Cup along with her Snowboard Cross top-10 finish.
She has been preparing in the United States at her training base in Utah.
"I skipped out on X Games to rest and train at Park City Mountain Resort. Park City has been fabulous and I have had sled laps through the park all day. My prep is just to snowboard and be on snow as much as possible, just like any other year."
The Snowboard Cross event will be held after Slopestyle and Halfpipe at Sochi 2014 so Bright doesn't feel it will impact her chances in these events.
Bright will contest the Slopestyle seeding the day before the Opening Ceremony on Thursday 6 February. On day 2 of competition (Sunday 9 February) the Slopestyle medals are decided. On day 5 she will try to produce another perfect run in the pipe and on day 9 she has Snowboard Cross qualification where she hopes to go deep into the head-to-head elimination racing.
"I'm just going to shred, and take each day as it comes!"
Alpine skier Greta Small will be the busiest Australian in Russia. The 18-year-old has qualified for all five races.