Australian snowboarder Torah Bright won gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and silver in Sochi in 2014. Bright is currently back in Australia and is the ambassador for Thredbo Resort. Kate Waterhouse caught up with the 28-year-old to chat about how her love of snowboarding began, winning gold and plans for the future.
When did your love of snowboarding start?
I grew up in Cooma, so being in the mountains this was just what we did as a family. I learnt how to ski first when I was about two years old. And then, I was one of those little kids who made fun of snowboarders! There is a little bit of a divide [between skiers and snowboarders]. I used to call [snowboarders] all sorts of names, names I won’t repeat right now! [Laughs]
What is it like to be an Olympic gold medallist?
Sometimes I think, “It’s nothing.” But, then when I think about it, I’m like, “No. It is something I will really hold it dear because the Olympics is the Mecca of any sport and I’ve won a gold medal.” It’s going to be a great story to tell the grandkids one day!
What was that moment like when you won gold?
I remember being so relieved. Coming into Vancouver I had a few concussions and I didn’t know if I was going to compete or not. I arrived in Vancouver and I was getting checked out by the doctors and I thought I’d just go out to training and see how it felt. I took it really easy and conditions were terrible. I thought, “They [conditions] are so bad. But, I’m just going to have a laugh and it doesn’t matter what happens.” But then, on the day, the one day that counted every four years, I was able to put a run together that won me gold. It was a relief to actually have done a run, landed a run and the run I wanted to do. And then, I remember my parents told me they weren’t coming because I didn’t want them to come and there they were in the stands.
Why didn’t you want your parents there?
I didn’t want more pressure on myself. Just not knowing if I was going to be well enough to even compete. So I asked them not to come and they told me they weren’t. But they were there. It made the gold medal more special.
Are you training for the next Winter Olympics?
Yes. That’s the plan. Post-Olympic year, I always take off. I slow down on the competition. Last year I just did X Games and that was it. I just re-connect with snowboarding the way that best makes me happy. I call it my stoking. So, I just get stoked on snowboarding to then give me the energy and will to want to keep going because I don’t love competing.
What do you mean? Are you not competitive?
Well, everybody would say I would be because that’s what I do for a living. But, I’m competitive only with myself. I love to push myself. I love to better myself. But I don’t care to be the “best”.
Is it hard to find that competitive spirit if it doesn’t come naturally?
No. Because I grew up competing in every sport I did. So it was just naturally what I’ve been doing my whole life. I guess the competitive spirit is just, for me, putting on a great show because there’s an artistic side to it. So, when I can get to an event and feel prepared and comfortable and be able to put on a great show, I’m pumped, no matter whether I win, lose or draw.
What’s your role with Thredbo?
My main job is to spark interest in people to just experience snow for the first time and the magic of snow. There is such as special beauty in the snowy mountains. A lot of the international snowboarding community now comes to Australia because it is so good.
What do you do for fun when you’re not on the snowfields?
I’m always outdoors and active. I surf, I mountain bike, I participate in any sport under the sun pretty much. I’ll try anything once.
You are a role model for so many, is that a lot of pressure?
No. I definitely never think or say or do anything that I think I need to act that way because that’s the right way to do. I live to the beat of my own heart and I live by the dictates of my own conscious and I do what I think is right for me. I think that’s a pretty healthy way to live. So if young girls or anybody see that and want to live their lives like that too it’s power to them.
You’ve won a gold medal, what’s next on your bucket list?
I still want to better myself as a snowboarder. Outside of the competitive ground, snowboarding has so many facets of snowboarding that I haven’t had the chance to experience yet. The plan is going to the next Olympics, but in the meantime, I want to go and ride the mountain powder.
Do you hope to win more Olympic gold medals?
I don’t go to the Olympics to win a medal… actually, I did when I went to Vancouver. I wanted to win for sure. But it almost killed me. So I thought, “I’m dropping that.” I love snowboarding. I’m good at it and I’m going to just work hard at it and whatever would be will be. So, I’ve never gone back to another Olympics or any event to win because it just doesn’t matter to me.
Do you have a mantra that you live by?
What comes to mind is the quote: “Live your life with honour, humility, passion, love and laughter, always within you.” I don’t know. I just feel we’re here to find and seek happiness and no matter what we do that should always be our goal.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I’ll be 33. I think the competitive side of snowboarding will definitely be done for me. It’s so hard on the body and there’s more to life than snowboarding. I want to have a family. There’s just so much more to life that I care more about than competing. For sure, I’d always snowboard. I’d always want to give back to the sport that has given me so much and be involved in the legacy.
WE WENT TO Flat White cafe, Woollahra
WE ATE Free-range scrambled eggs with avocado, haloumi and sourdough toast.
WE DRANK Herbal tea.
I WORE a Kookai vest and white top.
See behind the scenes from this interview on Fashion Bloggers tonight at 9:30pm on Foxtel’s E! channel.