How Alex Chumpy Pullin inspires the Aussie snowboard team in Beijing

Alex Pullin, of Australia, celebrates after his run during the men's snowboard cross semifinals at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

It’s a big day for the Australian SBX team today as they head to the SBX course in honour of fallen teammate, Alex Chumpy Pullin.

The snow world went into mourning almost two years ago when in July 2020, Chumpy drowned in a spearfishing incident, aged just 32.

The presence of Alex “Chumpy” Pullin is very much alive in the Australian athletes village and still inspires the Australian Olympic snowboarders, as the men set out in the snowboard cross.

While he’s missing from the team, snowboard legend Alex “Chumpy” Pullin has already helped Australia secure one Olympic snowboard medal (Tess Coady) in Beijing and could guide the men to another in today’s snowboard cross.

The legacy of their long-time leader is still being felt among the snowboard crew, who are without Pullin for the first time in three Olympics.

Snowboard slopestyle bronze medallist Tess Coady said that Pullin was her “hero”.

“He was always my hero growing up in the sport, I loved watching him ride and he is a true legend in Australian sport,” the 21-year-old said.

“He really shaped my snowboarding career and I am confident saying I would never be where I am without him, so I have been really lucky to have him in my life.”

Alex Pullin (left) and Cam Bolton of Australia high five following the Men’s Snowboard Cross finals, at Phoenix Snow Park, during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, in PyeongChang, South Korea, Thursday, February 15, 2018. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

Fellow triple Olympian and close pal Cameron Bolton, who will line up with PyeongChang silver medallist Jarryd Hughes and Adam Lambert as well as newcomer Adam Dickson in the snowboard cross on Thursday, said Pullin was still a big part of their Olympic push.

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The snow world responds to the tragic death of Alex Chumpy Pullin

The two-time snowboard cross world champion Pullin was Australia’s flag-bearer in Sochi in 2014 and a mentor for many up and coming snowboarders.

“He obviously meant a lot to a whole lot of people and to the winter community in Australia as a whole,” Bolton, who trained with Pullin on the world circuit, said.

“I think that this team that we have here in Beijing is still so heavily affected by Chumpy, but in a positive way.

“Everyone has had so much positive interaction with Chumpy, had so much advice, so much knowledge shared.

“A lot of what Chumpy stood for and what he was about is very much still alive here in 2022 and I think it’s helping the team.

“I think he’s still a large part of the everything that this team is striving towards and hoping to achieve.”

Alex Pullin, of Australia, celebrates on the podium, after winning the final of the Men’s Snowboard Cross, during the FIS Snowboard Cross World Cup at the Baqueira Beret ski station, Spain, Sunday, March 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Bolton heads into the competition in form after winning bronze at the last World Cup in Cortina, Italy, leading into the Games.

The men are looking to capture a medal for Australia after Belle Brockhoff fell heartbreakingly short, finishing fourth in the women’s snowboard cross on Wednesday after coming from 18th to make the Big Final.

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Olympic Training Centre athlete lodge at Mt Buller named Chumpy's Lodge

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We've teamed up with Australian Associated Press to ensure you get both accurate and up to date reporting for the Beijing 2022 Games from the AAP team of top notch reporters, veteran sports reporter Melissa Woods and award winning photographer Dan Himbrechts and SnowsBest editors at HQ.