Aussie winter Olympian Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin is a two-time snowboard-cross world champion. In the midst of his gruelling preparation for the upcoming world tour, he’s has taken some time out of his busy schedule to chat with Man of Many.
The big question on everyone’s mind is.. What’s the story behind the nickname ‘Chumpy‘?
No story, but I’m working on something to satisfy this question as I get asked it a lot!
How on earth does a surfer boy from Australia go on to become a two time snowboard-cross world champion?
It seems pretty normal for me, but I did see a few funny reactions during my early years on tour when asked where I was from.
I grew up in the high country in Victoria. My parents owned a ski and snowboard business, which of course led to me getting into the sport at a young age. I loved both summer and winter, though snowboarding just always seemed to come natural to me and I loved it.
I also loved to compete and started competing in all styles of snowboarding when I was young. I was 15 when I won the Australian National title in Opens Mens SBX and it was that day I decided it was the sport for me. I just fell in love with the racing and how it was a good combination of all snowboard skills in one discipline.
Since then, it’s been a lot of traveling to the Northern winter each year and racing my way to get onto the World Tour and compete against the best. My parents have always been able to give me guidance in times when I couldn’t seem to put it together and just keep me on track towards realistic goals. I’ve always tried to keep things simple and get the most out of every trip away, so that I could continue to do the sport I love. Most importantly, I aim to race and win as much as possible.
That has all lead to where I am today and I’m still loving it and still learning!
Being a top contender for the world title, how do you deal with the pressure put on you to deliver a good performance?
No one will be able to put more pressure on me for a contest win than myself. It is my life and what I strive to be the best at everyday. I’d never think of winning an event for someone else’s happiness because I know the great feeling I get when I cross the line in first, comes from earning something that I truly desire.
It’s amazing to share a win with my family and everyone who has supported me, because they are the ones who feel what I feel too but as far as dealing with other peoples expectations, I really just let that go over my head.
I have always made my own decisions and that includes challenging myself with winning titles such as the World Championships, it’s something I remind myself of often. When I stand alone in the gate, moments before it drops, I sometimes just remind myself that I really want this, that it is everything to me and usually that brings a smile to my face.
Mentally, what’s going through your head before each race?
So many different emotions and nerves on the day of competition. Each event brings new challenges 8and things to analyse. I often feel a balance of nerves for my expectations of the race, plus nerves for just wanting to come away healthy too. It can be dangerous to race heats of six down some pretty fast courses, but these kind of nerves bring out the best in my riding too. I find a way to enjoy those nerves and the excitement around an event and that helps calm my thoughts. Then when it comes down to it, I grit my teeth and don’t hold back.
What type of training do you undergo to physically prepare for an event?
I train almost 11 months of the year. I go through phases depending on what stage of the year I’m at but usually, prior to a Northern hemisphere season, I spend six days a week training, with two sessions per day. Coming off the great Southern winter I have had, my on snow training is up to speed and a good 4-6 week block of dry land training to tune up prior to the first few competitions is perfect. I also make sure to get a good balance of full body gym work and other sports like surfing and mountain biking to keep it interesting. I really like this time of year because you feel like you are just improving all the time and it makes me really hungry to size myself up against all the boys on tour once again.
How much does food and diet play into your preparation and performance?
I really feel it when I either have or haven’t eaten right during a training session. It’s so important for me to get the right food into my body prior and post training to be sure I can get most out of the next day as well. It’s pretty easy when I’m back in Aus, as I love keeping my house full of fresh food, fruit, veggies and just cooking at home. When I’m on the road it gets really difficult. I drink Red Bull during my training sessions, often to give myself a lift for the second session of the day. It’s also very handy when on the road as I can keep some consistency with what I consume around training and competitions.
What’s the one product every snowboarder should own (other than a board of course)?
Good helmet. Concussions are not healthy and the more you can avoid them the better.
When riding for fun, what’s your favourite mountain?
I’d have to say almost any resort in Japan.
You’re also a keen surfer, what’s your favourite break?
I love surfing down on the far South NSW coast where my folks live now. There’s some really fun waves down there and you can often score it to yourself.
Who is the greatest board-sports legend – Shaun White, Kelly Slater or Tony Hawk?
I have a lot of respect for Shaun White, but in my eyes Kelly Slater is probably the best surfer/athlete/competitor in history. I love listing to his post heat interviews and trying to pick up on any little thing he might give away that I can use. 42 years old and still in the title race each year! Amazing!
We hear you’re a bit of a musician. How does music tie in with your training regime?
I love music. It’s always been a huge part of my life. I listen to a lot of older rock bands like Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin. It’s normally pretty good music to have on when I’m training in the gym.
If you could travel back in time to a concert of any musician dead or alive, who would you see?
Ahhh such a tough question. Only one?! Well, I’ve been listening to a bit of Bob Marley again lately as we are coming into the warmer months and I would have loved to seen him and The Wailers in their heyday.