At last week’s Roxy Snow Pro we caught up with the Australian half pipe wonder and reigning Olympic gold medallist Torah Bright to chat TTR v FIS, how much she rates Cheryl Maas and how she’s coping with the loss of her close friend Sarah Burke
Interview by Sam Haddad
How was the course today did you have a good practice?
Yeah it was good. Er, it’s quite a flat course so speed is kinda an issue after the first jump. Flat landings, flat light but there’s a night practise today so if the wind stays away it could be quite nice [it didn’t].
It’s pretty small compared to the X Games?
Very small yes.
How does that affect how you ride? You get less airtime I guess?
It does affect the tricks in a way but as long as a small jump is built well, it shouldn’t limit you too much. I think it’s the speed and the landings that are pretty much the thing.
How do you feel about competing at night?
I’ve never done night slopestyle but night pipe and the Olympics is at night but yeah night’s difficult for me as it’s the time you wind down but you know you do what you gotta do haha.
Aside from the mental side, is it difficult to gauge your speed and work out the light?
When courses aren’t well lit there’s a lot of shading but say on a day like today where it’s quite flat light it would be way better to ride at night than it would be during the day.
For me it seems more scary at night as it’s more icy, is that a thing for you guys?
No I mean it’s been pretty solid today but when it’s solid it fastens up so there are different elements that come into it. It’s what we’re all trained to do.
Is there a bit of a come down after an Olympic Gold? Do you think what next?
I don’t think you really think what next but after a huge high there is an inevitable lull and you’re like oh ok, I’ve got to get going again. And I got married.
Yeah congratulations for that…
And last year I stayed away from the contest scene and was just riding in the backcountry and shooting and filming and that was a really special treat as I’ve never really had time to do that before. 10 years of my snowboarding career [Torah is just 25] has been, you know, doing the sponsored thing, photo shoot to photo shoot, competition to competition and so it was really my chance to just go out and have it.
Did that improve you as a rider?
Yeah I think riding every discipline helps you as a rider. And the more time you spend with a board under your feet helps you too.
Are you tuning into the Olympics again now?
You’re doing the slopestyle here in Saalbach? [As it turned out Torah didn’t compete] Could you imagine trying to medal in that at the Olympics too?
I think it is very difficult to do both even at a normal event let alone the Olympics. For now my mentality is just to ride, ride a lot and ride it all and then I’ll make the decision when I have to.
Who is impressing you of the riders here today?
For the youngies Katie Ormerod [the 14 year old Brit who made the finals link] and Aimee Fuller [who finished third] are impressing me and Cheryl Maas [who finished second] has been really impressive, she’s actually enjoying the course which makes a big difference as you can get the feel for it and just flow it.
Is that something you can control, can you make yourself enjoy it?
Yeah, it’s just sometimes you enjoy it and sometimes you don’t. For whatever mental or physical or just that your style of riding doesn’t suit the pop of the jumps, it just depends and then it’s just someone’s day and someone else’s day the next.
Did you enjoy Cheryl’s movie parts?
Yeah she’s… I wish she’d got more credit for her film parts.
You mean at the Transworld Awards?
Do you think that was because she was a European rider?
Yeah I think so, there’s a lot of hype over the US riders but Cheryl is in my opinion the best. Her cab double got severely overlooked.
I’m really sorry to ask this next question but I know you were very close to Sarah Burke [who tragically died in a half pipe training accident last month], so has what happened made you not want to compete or compete for her? I see everyone is wearing the tribute armbands.
Yeah it’s a difficult one. Some people want to compete for her. But I was there [when it happened] and through the whole time so it’s a different kind of reality for me in a sense, so mentally and emotionally I’m still climbing back.
Where are you on the FIS versus TTR snowboard debate?
Things need to change, I think the Olympics is a great thing within snowboarding but the qualification needs to change to more favour the rider rather than us just being told what to do. TTR and the World Snowboarding Champs in Oslo are a step but we need to ask why certain things are happening. And at no other event do I have to have contact with my national team but for some reason at the TTR World Snowboard Champs I do and it’s like are we trying to steer away from FIS or enable them. As our national teams dictate, I mean I’m not on the national team because I won’t ride the FIS tour and they’re not willing to budge so I’m like this is weird. It won’t affect the Olympics as I just do the minimum FIS events to qualify it’s just the in between.
How well recognised are you back home?
People recognise me at home in Australia, not in Salt Lake City where I live, but back in Australia there’s definitely more of a celebrity thing. It’s strange. But I love hearing people’s stories of how the Olympic medal touched them or whatever.
Are there lots of young Torahs coming through in Oz right now?
There are quite a few girls actually. It’s good.
Will you ever move back there?
I would love to live back there. I couldn’t move there right now as there is no industry, but one day I think it would be nice to move back, it just depends what we move into after snowboarding and where we need to live for that.
Torah is sponsored by Roxy