INTERVIEW - Chumpy Pullin, Snowboard Cross World Champion

21st of January 2011

The current World Champion. Image:: Getty Images

Interview | Alex Cameron

For the next two years he will be the snowboard cross World Champion, the well deserved culmination of twelve months nipping at the heels of the sport's top names; now Alex 'Chumpy' Pullin is a top name himself. Here, the first post-victory chat, with Transfer Snowboard Magazine's Alex Cameron.

Congratulations Chumpy on being crowned World Champion yesterday in La Molina. After posting so many excellent times over the past year, being on the podium at most events and crashing out in such a good position at the Olympics, is it a psychological load off your shoulders to finally win one?

Thanks a lot. It feels so good. I have definitely felt that in the last 12 months my competition riding has come a long way. I have had the speed, putting down good qualifying runs and consistent top 10 results as you say, through the past 12-months I feel my racing judgement has really developed. Coming into this one I was hungry for the win as always. To pull it off and have it all go to plan is really amazing.

There are a number of different contest arenas for a professional snowboard racer. With the Olympics every four years, World Championships every two, and World Cup FIS events every year no doubt some podiums are more coveted than others. What is the hierarchy in terms of prestige, from a rider's point of view? Is being World Champion the second best thing to being Olympic Champion? Or is it better? Are there any other events that are considered special by the rider body?

For the next two years, this World Champs is the most important title. For a rider, it's great to land one of those events that stand alone. To be on it for that day and score a title that carries so much weight. It is exactly the same format as the Olympics and all the countries send their best to the Worlds. For me, its the win I was hoping for most for the next two years. Though the Olympics will always be the pinnacle, as it is in so many sports, the World Champs is just as competitive and to have one under my belt is a great feeling. It's events like the World Champs and the Olympics that relate to everyone back in Australia, a success which can be shared and understood by so many.

Many people, even amongst the snow-going community, may not realise how much expensive equipment is involved in snowboard cross. Can you give us a quick run-down on how many boards you travel with, and how much goes into pre-race equipment preparation (waxing, tuning)?

It's huge! The amount of time I've spent this last 6 months perfecting my new boards, working with Apex, a company based in Austria, it's been a big process. I travel with around five boards, all prepped to compete for different conditions. I also have a wax tech who is spending hours on the boards every night during contests, as well as on snow wax support. It makes all the difference and I feel we are nailing the preparation side of it all right now.

Chumpy on the top step of the World Cup podium in Valmalenco, March 2010. Image:: FIS

Your blog paints an interesting picture of your life both on and off the snow. You certainly break the mould of a typical racer. Do you find it odd that such a seemingly free-spirited person competes in a highly disciplined, regulated form of snowboarding?

Yeah, I can see where you're coming from. Competition is definitely how I make a career out of it and I love competing. But we also have a lot of time to get plenty of freeriding in. If anything, I personally feel competing in boardercross allows me to be more open minded when it comes to training for the actual competition. Given that, to be the best at boardercross, you need to be a great all round snowboarder. That leaves the training down to riding halfpipe, jumps, freeriding and pushing your snowboarding everyday on all terrain. The contest itself for me is only becoming more fun as I improve. I feel that it is my perfect balance between competing as well as getting lots of days out there just riding. I never get the feeling that my snowboarding is restricted because of competition, it's just another way to enjoy a day on snow and to feel new things.

What does the rest of the Northern Hemisphere season hold in store for you? How busy is the schedule of a professional snowboardcross rider?

Pretty stacked, we go straight to Aspen for the X Games from here. After that it's on to the rest of the (FIS) World Cup Tour. We ride through until around late March, when the overall number one is decided, which is a box I also aim to tick this season.

Glancing over the start lists for some of your events, it appears that the Southern Hemisphere is pretty underrepresented. Apart from your coach, do you find yourself traveling with other riders very often?

Coach (Ben Wordsworth) and I hang out heaps, we are close mates. I also ride with Nate Johnstone and Holly Crawford a lot (Both riders recently crowned World Champions in Halfpipe at the same meet). We keep a super fun vibe wherever we are in the world, going to check out cool places and pushing trollies full of gear through airports. I have spent a lot of time with Damon Hayler over the last four years, and we still meet up a lot during northern and southern hemi winters. It's always good to hangout with the Aussie crew and catch up with everyone wherever you can.

If you had to chose to only do one for the rest of your life, what would it be: Play in your band (love Charli) or snowboard?

It wouldn't be possible for me to give up either. Both music and snowboard are such a big part of my life. Snowboarding is the priority right now, being young, fit and in the game. But I will always find time to write and play music. I hope to work more on it in the future.

Your boards look really unusual compared with the stuff your average guy is riding. They're longer and narrower with a huge turn radius and almost no rocker. How different are they to ride? Are they any fun off the boardercross racecourse?

It's funny, as I actually rode a Rossignol Jeremy Jones pro model board for so many years. Even in the last Olympics. It was only mid way through last year that I started to work with Apex, a crew based in Austria who build custom snowboards. I have been able to get onto a sick shape and flex with the new board they produced for me. It's got plenty of pop, tapered so it glides straight and carries speed, really balanced in the air and makes the job (of racing) a lot easier. Off the course, it's still a lot of fun to ride. You can bomb runs at top speed and at the point where a normal board would be chattering out or getting too much vibration, on my (race) board it feels like cruising.

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