Snowboard Cross world champion Alex “Chumpy’’ Pullin does things differently.
To train for the Winter Olympics, he lay on the bottom of a swimming pool with a man standing on his chest and tried to remain calm despite his lungs screaming for air.
It was a training drill that he hopes has taught him how to keep his cool once the competition heats up in Pyeongchang in South Korea from this Friday (February 9).
He also hopes he finishes with the gold medal that was denied* him at the Sochi Games four years ago.
Pullin was the reigning* world champion, world No 1, Olympic gold medal favourite and Australian flag-bearer in Sochi, before his campaign unravelled and he finished 13th.
In the past four years he has worked on being able to remain calm, focused and more resilient* when things aren’t going his way.
Most of that is thanks to his trainer Gold Coast strength and conditioning expert Nam Baldwin. He employs some unusual methods to improve the strength and agility* of his athletes, in both body and mind.
“With Nam I am really challenged. I am always a little nervous before a session because I don’t know what he will throw at me,” Pullin said.
“The pool stuff is really different, the empty lung breath holds and doing wrestling under water. It’s always really difficult to get that exact feeling of race day, to get those nerves, but that’s what Nam tries to do. He brings the physical and mental side into play.”
Pullin has always been a natural on snow. He started skiing at Mt Buller in Victoria when he was three before his parents, who own and run a family ski/snowboard shop, gave him a snowboard as an eight-year-old.
He hasn’t looked back becoming a two-time World Snowboard Cross Champion, two-time Overall Crystal Globe winner, dual Olympian and gold medallist at seven World Cups
Pullin said the aim of this Olympic cycle had been to prepare him “for what you don’t see coming’’.
He now regards his Olympic flop in Sochi as “an opportunity to grow as a human being’’.
“If I can be there feeling 100 per cent ready and I have enjoyed getting myself there, if I can enjoy it all, I think that’s the best way to bring out my best performance,’’ he said.
“(Olympic gold) is the one I would love to have in my career and I am pushing as hard as I can to be as ready as I can be for the Games.’’
Australia is sending 51 athletes to the Games to compete in alpine skiing, bobsleigh, cross country skiing, figure skating, freestyle skiing, luge, short track speed skating, skeleton, snowboard and speed skating.
Lives in: Was born in Mansfield in Victoria, now lives on Sydney’s northern beaches.
His heroes: Tennis champion Pat Rafter and surfing legend Kelly Slater.
Favourite place: Mt Hotham in Victoria.
THREE THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT CHUMPY
1. He plays and writes his own music and loves performing it in venues.
2. His nickname Chumpy comes from his childhood.
3. His other great love is surfing.
denied: missing out on something you wanted
reigning: currently holding a sporting title
resilient: able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions
agility: moving quickly and easily
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
1. Alex’s trophy cabinet
Alex has won many snowboarding competitions, some of which are mentioned in this article. On a sheet of A3 paper, draw a picture of what you think his trophy cabinet might look like, using the information in this article to work out what trophies, medals and awards would be inside. If you have enough time, you could research what each trophy/medal looks like to make them accurate – otherwise draw them how you think they might look. Use labels on your picture so that it easy for somebody looking at it to see what each item is.
Extension: Find out what the official medals of the 2018 Winter Olympics look like and record three facts about their design.
Time: allow 40 minutes
Curriculum links: English, Health and Physical Education, Visual Arts
2.: A winning feeling
There are many emotions that athletes experience as they prepare for and compete in their chosen sports, and his is true for Alex Pullin. Based on the article, write a sentence to explain a time that he has felt each of the following:
Extension: Choose one of the emotions from this activity and write a more detailed description of this feeling and what happens to your body and in your mind when you feel it.
Time: Allow 20 minutes
Curriculum links: English
IN ONE SENTENCE, TELL US WHAT YOU LIKE ABOUT TODAY’S STORY
Tell us your thoughts on the story using your best spelling, punctuation and grammar. We will publish the best comments.