ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Torah Bright took the first step in her unprecedented quest to compete in all three Olympic snowboarding events on Thursday and laughed off suggestions she might cut down on her commitments to improve her medal chances.
The 27-year-old Australian was all beaming smiles and giggles after nailing a brilliant first run in the slopestyle heats to secure her place in the final of the newest event in the Olympic schedule.
Like Shaun White, Bright is a bona fide X-Games star and the defending Olympic halfpipe champion but there was simply no question that she might follow the lead of her American friend, who pulled out of the slopestyle because of safety concerns.
“No way! I’m doing three events and I’m going to have a great time,” Bright, who will also compete in snowboard cross, told reporters.
“(It’s) one day at a time for me, I’m halfway through one of the events and two more to go.
“I have to say I totally respect Shaun’s decision because it’s about him, it’s not about the media, it’s not about the Olympics, it’s about him wanting to be his best and deciding what to do. So respect.”
Bright’s intention to “have a great time” in Sochi is born of her experience in Vancouver four years ago, where she suffered a string of concussions trying to perfect more and more complicated tricks in pre-Games training.
That almost ended her hopes of competing in her second Olympics altogether and, lesson learned, she has arrived in Russia with a more carefree attitude.
“I learned from last time around because I almost didn’t make it because I changed how I usually am, I went into Vancouver wanting to win for the first time,” she said.
“That doesn’t work with me, I’ve come into this Games not changing a bit. I’m here and snowboarding because I love to snowboard and I’ve got a really interesting journey ahead and I’m really excited for it.”
She completed the first step on that journey in some style on Thursday with the best first run in the first heat at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, which enabled her to relax on her second run and still place second.
“It’s wonderful start, very happy,” she said after signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans.
“I particularly liked the last jump because front three’s my favorite trick and it’s a big jump and you can just bone it the whole way through, it feels great!”
Bright said the slopestyle course that convinced White to dump the event had improved greatly since adjustments were made in consultation with the riders and hinted she might have a new trick or two in her routine when she goes for gold on Sunday.
“Who knows? I would like to do some other things for the final but who knows?” she said, still smiling after more than half an hour of media commitments.
Editing by Ed Osmond