I\u2019m going to be the first to admit it \u2013 short of the Jamaican bobsled team \u2013 I\u2019ve never seen the appeal of winter sports. Though I work in an office filled with skiers and snowboarders, all of whom hit the slopes more than once a season to revel in the snow (and all of whom happily give me plenty of stick about my lack of sporting prowess), I have never liked the idea of the cold, I\u2019ve never understood the desire to slide down a hill, and I\u2019ve never managed to stomach the exorbitant costs involved with the hobby. Give me a Pi\u00f1a Colada and a good book on a beach any day of the year.\r\n\r\nThat said, when the opportunity arose to visit Mount Hotham to get a lesson with Alex \u201cChumpy\u201d Pullin, my curiosity was piqued, if not for finding out whether or not I could actually carve up the powder myself, then for the fact that I got to spend some time with Chumpy, one of Australia\u2019s more colourful Olympians.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nI should start by explaining the significance of Mount Hotham to this story. One: it\u2019s where Chumpy trains. It\u2019s also where he won his first ever medal, a memory he holds close, and to which he attributes his many successes since.\r\n\r\n\u201cI won an event here when I was 15. Open Men's, and that was kind of something like, \u2018Whoa, man, this is getting somewhere.\u2019 Little did I know there was this whole world beyond it. Our sport wasn't actually an Olympic sport until 2010, which was well after I actually started competing.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe sport to which Chumpy is referring, specifically, is boardercross, one of the fiercest winter sports for high-speed and high-risk. With four to six competitors flying down a narrow course filled with twists, turns and jumps at breakneck speed, there\u2019s no great margin for error, and as much time spent in training as possible is crucial.\r\n\r\nThe second thing to note about Mount Hotham is its unique layout. Where other ski resorts lie at the foot of a snow-covered mountain, allowing easy access to the peak via lifts, Hotham Heights is at the top of the mountain; skiers and snowboarders can hurtle down from their lodge\u2019s front door.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe bulk of my interview with Chumpy is conducted in a ski lift heading to the very top of the mountain, and time is of the essence - it's a six minute trip. Though he\u2019s carved out a name for himself as one of the best in the business, some rudimentary research suggests there\u2019s more behind his distinctively Aussie, cheeky grin than just top-tier snowboarding.\r\n\r\nI\u2019m wearing my very best Rastafarian striped tracksuit. I\u2019ve heard from multiple sources that Pullin is also the lead singer in a reggae band, and I hope \u00a0my outfit will curry some favour and convince him to open up more than usual (also, Jamaica did have a bobsled team, so I\u2019m gunning for common ground). Though he needs no convincing, he\u2019s quick to point out that his musical career has gravitated towards more solo work these days, mostly due to time constraints.\r\n\r\n\u201cI feel like it's such a good switch off sometimes. I'm not one to sit there and, sort of, meditate too much. I can focus on just playing guitar, or writing a song or something for any extended amount of time \u2026 it's just a creative little thing I can have always around, doesn't matter if it's a guitar, or ukulele, or a banjo, whatever. And music is probably the best international language. You could pick it up anywhere. At a bar in Austria .. you know, end up doing a jam with the local guy there. Anybody.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nBeing a citizen of the world is a requirement for a winter Olympian \u2013 people are seldom aware that Australia even has a culture for snowboarding \u2013 or they\u2019re quick to confuse us with Austria. Being on the world circuit means traveling far and wide to chase the freshest powder, and staying in top form for those comps back home is a constant occupation.\r\n\r\n\u201cI get my hands around anything else I can. Surfing; mountain bike riding. Training is something that's really important. I try to keep that not too regimented ... just strict training regimes, skill base as well. Obviously, you've got to put the miles in at the gym, and get the strength and the control. Incorporating some mental stimulation in there so it's actually exciting, too.\u201d\r\n\r\nOne theme that runs through our conversation is his continued use of the word \u2018culture\u2019 to describe what\u2019s happening below us. While growing up in the city might shelter a young writer from the daily ins-and-outs of what happens at the ski fields, Chumpy\u2019s been there since the very start of snowboarding as a sport in Australia, and can shed a lot of light on the nature of the pastime when the boots come off.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u201cI grew up at the foothills of the Australian Alps, which is a beautiful place. I grew up in Mansfield, and rode all the mountains. My parents had a ski and snowboard shop, so I just was pretty much born into that scene. Snowboarding hit the scene [at the same time as] Nirvana hit the scene. People who were working at the shop were cooler, and older, and I wanted to hang out with them; and they were snowboarding [instead of skiing].\u201d\r\n\r\nWhile the scene is famously international and very competitive, there\u2019s a comradery that exists between boardercrossers. Chumpy\u2019s done his best to incorporate a distinctively Australian ingredient to the sport, specifically: his way of managing rivalries on the podium (yes, it\u2019s exactly what you\u2019re expecting).\r\n\r\n\u201c[Last year] I had a friendly rivalry with this Swiss guy all season and we had a deal that if I podiumed he had to do a shoey out of my snowboarding boot \u2013 but at the end of the season. After I\u2019d been sweating into it for months. It was gross.\r\n\r\n\u201cI podiumed with him so he had to do it, but this French guy, Pierre, who's my main rival and usually not as friendly, came over to me about half an hour later and asked if my other boot had been used yet. It hadn\u2019t, so he did it too. We got him in party mode in about half an hour. As competitive as it is, it\u2019s great that we all party together.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nChumpy\u2019s back at Mount Hotham, as he is every year, to keep on top of his training regime. Hundreds of people are flying down the slopes below us on a sunny Sunday. He tells me that it\u2019s perfect conditions, and is probably the best day of the season.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt's always been home for boardercrossers. Like I said, I had my first win here, so it's got a lot of history for me. But, they still consistently put up a track, allow us to get up here, every season, [and] train. It's a really good, strong community up here, and the track is unreal. We can do everything we need here.\r\n\r\n\u201cOn long days, like today, when you're up here, and the weather's perfect, I think you've just got to pump out as many laps as you can while the weather's good, crush another Red Bull, and just get back in there.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAt his not-so-subtle nod to the brand who sponsor not just him, but countless other sports idols, I\u2019m curious about whether or not it\u2019s an actual ingredient in his training toolkit. When I probe him on the branding and sponsorship deal that is extreme-sports juggernaut Red Bull, who, to their credit, have paid for my ticket to the slopes too, he\u2019s the perfect salesperson: refreshingly honest.\r\n\r\n\u201cAbsolutely we drink it when we\u2019re training. The thing I like is that it\u2019s liquid. You can open a can, have a bit, come back to it later \u2013 the last thing you want when you\u2019re training, especially in the morning, is a full stomach. And there\u2019s no questioning it gives you energy and focus and all that. So yes, I really drink it \u2013 we all do \u2013 in sensible doses.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe last thing to note about Mount Hotham, which is most apparent as we approach the summit, is how stunning the landscape is. Soft slopes drop off to steep declines and ravines; white caps adorn the sides of mountains covered with Snow Gums and Alpine Ash trees, dipping into valleys that run to the Dargo River in the south, and the Cobungra River to the east.\r\n\r\nThe village that sits atop the mountain is small and remote; the tight-knit community of locals are proud of this and it shows in their hospitality; warm and welcoming \u2013 people are genuinely happy to be here \u2013 in the freezing cold in the middle of nowhere. It\u2019s an infectious attitude. While I\u2019d still gladly reach for the Pi\u00f1a Colada and the Penguin Classic on an island somewhere, I don\u2019t find myself wanting once in my time on the mountain.\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_100106" align="alignnone" width="750"] The writer (right) shares a hearty laugh with Alex "Chumpy" Pullin (left).[\/caption]\r\n\r\nAs we eventually jettison from the ski lift, my ridiculous outfit having rendered me near-frostbitten, Chumpy offers to race me to the bottom. I politely decline, but ask for one last parting word. Given his love of reggae and winter sports, I tell him I need to know if Cool Runnings is, indeed, the greatest film of all time.\r\n\r\n\u201cHaha of course it is\u201d he says, as he begins his descent, shouting back in a not-so-great Jamaican accent: \u201cKiss my lucky egg!\u201d\r\n\r\nMan of Many travelled to Mt Hotham as a guest of Red Bull.\r\nListen to Chumpy's Music\r\nChumpy with Red Bull\r\n\r\n\r\nHave you subscribed to Man of Many? 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