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Questions for Torah Bright
Monday, 23 May 2005





Cooma-born snowboarder and committed Mormon Torah Bright, 18, is one of the world's best competitors and is tipped to win Olympic gold. Interview by Danielle Teutsch.

Since your win at the Arctic Challenge last month you have been tipped as a favourite for a gold medal in the half-pipe competition at the Winter Olympics in 2006. How much pressure does that put on you?

The only pressure I feel is the pressure on myself to see the sport progress and female snowboarders progress. When people introduce me as a gold medal prospect I just brush it off. After the Olympics, I've got a whole winter of competitions as well, so it's not the be-all and end-all for me.

What is it like to be a female in the professional snowboarding world?

I've been involved in the international side of snowboarding for three years. It's not the guys now, it's the females pushing the females, which is really nice. My riding style has always been about smoothness and style. They are the key things in snowboarding. The guys seem to really respect that.

You started skiing at two and were a downhill racer. Then you picked up a snowboard at age 11 and never looked back. Why the switch?

It was a bad season that year. I got a little bored, so I picked up a snowboard and saw the light. I think I did it because my older brother, Ben, did. Surprisingly, it felt natural. I started doing half-pipes pretty quickly. I was ready for anything back then, but now I'm a little more composed. I think things through.

You grew up in Cooma, spending every weekend at the Snowy Mountains with your family. [Torah's sister Rowena, 25, is a ski racer and Ben, 20, is a professional snowboarder.] You must all be very close.

Mum and dad drove us to the mountains every weekend. Dad loved skiing and got the whole family hooked. When I was little, Rowena was ski racing and she had 5am training starts. I just used to go along with them, and follow Ben around the mountain and do everything he did. We definitely all get along very well. When we're on the mountain, we all look out for each other.You have three major sponsors [Roxy, Salomon and Gravis]. The fact that you're good-looking helps, doesn't it?

At first, I was struggling with that whole thing. I thought, that just sucks that your snowboarding ability can't just talk for itself without looks being involved. But my manager explained that it's the whole package, and that's marketing, that's the way it works. So now I accept it. The sponsors allow me to travel, pay my bills - I couldn't do it otherwise. But luckily I can actually snowboard.

Female athletes have posed for magazines such as Ralph and FHM. Would you ever consider doing something like that to raise your profile?

I'm Mormon, so I personally would not do it. We are taught that our bodies are our most sacred things. I definitely would never do anything like that to better my career. There's no point. But each to their own.

Have you always been a Mormon?

Yes, I was born into it. Mum and dad were converted here, through friends.

Does your faith help you deal with competitive pressures?

It doesn't help me in competitions, but it gives me a purpose. It gives me values and morals to live by, which I definitely like. I've decided to live by it for the rest of my life.

You don't drink, obviously, so how else do you socialise with friends?

I go to pubs just to hang out with my friends, but it's not really my scene. I prefer to go and dance with my buddies.

Is your religion the reason why you're based in Salt Lake City at the moment?

It's known for being Mormon headquarters, but it's also an awesome place to base yourself because the mountains are a half-hour away, and there is an airport there. My sister Rowena is also there on a skiing scholarship so I have family there too, which is great.

What is your training regimen like?

From December to May, it's full-on travel to different competitions every week. Photo shoots for sponsors also take up a lot of time. Finding training time is very hard. I just go up on the mountain. Usually, I will do laps, work on the jumps, go through the half-pipe, work on a trick. It's pretty mellow. Next week I'll be training in Mammoth [California] with Ben.

If you weren't a snowboarder, what you would be?

A rally car driver. I love to drive, always have. My dad would teach me, and I would ask him to teach me a reverse 180-degree. I have a car in the US now, a brand new Toyota Forerunner. It's a V8, it's a pretty nice car. I definitely like that it's a bit powerful.

Have you had any major stacks?

I severed a tendon on my index finger three years ago. I was coming off the mountain, five metres from the car park, flew forward and sliced my hand on a rock. That's the worst thing. Otherwise, it's just a few bumps and bruises along the way.

Can you try to explain the thrill of executing a good aerial manoeuvre?

At the Arctic Challenge we were going from the top of a ski jump to a 10-metre quarter-pipe, so you start with a big rush. Once you get to the lip, you air out, with five metres beneath you. You kind of feel like a bird in mid-flight. You think, 'Yeah, I want to do it again. But I'm going to go bigger and better.'

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