A Few Split Sec­onds

Britt Cox

Chill Factor - - Chillfactor Recommends - In­ter­view by Katya Crema

Britt Cox has be­come a well-known name in Aus­tralian win­ter sport. Grow­ing up in the Vic­to­rian Alpine Re­sort of Falls Creek, Britt was born into mogul ski­ing, with her fam­ily all pas­sion­ate mogul skiers. At the age of just 15, Britt an­nounced her ar­rival on the world stage when she be­came the sec­ond youngest ath­lete in his­tory to rep­re­sent Aus­tralia at a Win­ter Olympics, and was the youngest com­peti­tor at the 2010 Van­cou­ver Win­ter Olympics. Now at 21 years of age, Britt is one of the lead­ing mogul skiers in the world, be­com­ing the first Aus­tralian fe­male to win a mogul ski­ing World Cup medal in Fe­bru­ary 2012. Britt now has two Olympics Games, three World Cham­pi­onships and two World Cup podi­ums to her name. She has squeezed more into an ath­letic ca­reer be­fore the age of 21 than most peo­ple could even imag­ine in a whole life­time. Just two years out from the 2018 Win­ter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Britt talks to Chill­fac­tor about her ex­pe­ri­ences, her goals, and what it takes to be one of the world’s best mogul skiers.

CF: Britt, tell us how it all started. When did you first get on a pair of skis?

BC: I first started ski­ing when I was about 18-months-old at Falls Creek. It is where my par­ents met, and where my whole fam­ily has grown up. My par­ents put me on a lit­tle pair of plas­tic skis pretty much as soon as I could walk. Some of my ear­li­est mem­o­ries are shuffling around on the kitchen floor with th­ese plas­tic skis on, hop­ing that Mum and Dad would take me out ski­ing. I think grow­ing up in that en­vi­ron­ment just made me hooked.

How early did you get into moguls?

I started rac­ing at Falls Creek Race Club when I was about six-years-old and did it un­til I was about 14. As I be­came older, af­ter race train­ing I would just go and ski bumps with my older brother Hamish and some of his friends and just loved the ex­cite­ment of it. I used to chase my brother around the moun­tain.

Did you have a men­tor grow­ing up or some­one that in­spired you to want to take mogul ski­ing to an elite level?

I ac­tu­ally think I’ve had a num­ber of men­tors. I al­ways try and find in­spi­ra­tion from ev­ery­one around me. Adrian Costa coached me when I was quite young, and he was a four-time Olympic mogul skier for Aus­tralia. He in­spired me and showed me that mogul ski­ing was a real op­tion for me. I learned a lot from him. I also looked up to past Aus­tralian Cham­pi­ons in the sport such as Alisa Cam­plin in aerial ski­ing. I re­mem­ber watch­ing her in the Salt Lake Olympics and re­al­is­ing that I wanted to be an Olympian and an Olympic Cham­pion. That re­ally drove me to take up mogul ski­ing pro­fes­sion­ally. Now I think I look to all ath­letes across the board, peo­ple that in­spire me, and I try to take that into my train­ing.

How did you feel about be­ing the youngest com­peti­tor at the 2010 Van­cou­ver Win­ter Olympics?

It’s pretty crazy to think all the way back to Van­cou­ver! I was only 15 at the time, ev­ery­thing was just so over­whelm­ing and I didn’t ex­pect to be there. I only got a call about three weeks be­fore the Games. I took ev­ery­thing in and gained a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence. Go­ing into that en­vi­ron­ment, I learnt what it would take to progress my ski­ing to the next level. Some­times I won­der where my ski­ing would be now had I not gone to Van­cou­ver be­cause I learned so much. I think it re­ally pushed me through the next four years mov­ing into Sochi.

Tell us about your first World Cup medal in Deer Val­ley. How did it feel stand­ing on the podium?

My first World Cup medal in Deer Val­ley, USA, ac­tu­ally hap­pened to be the lo­ca­tion of my first World Cup ever, my first World Cham­pi­onships and my first fi­nal. So Deer Val­ley seems to be a place for first times for me! It was the first sea­son that they in­tro­duced the su­per fi­nal, where the fi­nal four skiers bat­tle it out for the podium. I squeezed into the fi­nal four and then put down a solid run to get my first podium fin­ish and it was crazy, it re­ally showed me that I was ca­pa­ble of com­pet­ing against the top women in the sport, and to do it in front of the Deer Val­ley Freestyle crowd was su­per ex­cit­ing.

Does the su­per fi­nal struc­ture suit you more than the old race for­mat?

I couldn’t say it suits me more be­cause there have been events where I was in a good po­si­tion and the su­per fi­nal hasn’t helped me. And then in other events it has worked in my favour. Ei­ther way, whether there is or isn’t a su­per fi­nal, the best skier on the day is go­ing to be one that comes down and wins. You can still put down the same run in the su­per fi­nal; you just need to keep lift­ing your game each round. I think the in­ten­sity in the fi­nal gets higher from all the com­peti­tors.

THIS IMAGE: Britt ham­mer­ing the bumps on her way to a fifth place at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi (Cuff) ABOVE: Kick­ing back at home

in Falls Creek (Hock­ing)

So phys­i­cal fit­ness must play a huge part in sus­tain­ing your level of ski­ing un­til the fi­nal round?

Yeah, phys­i­cal as well as men­tal fa­tigue. As the day goes on, you go through all th­ese com­pe­ti­tion rounds and then there is one fi­nal round, which is the most im­por­tant.

If you had to choose a fa­vorite mo­ment in your sport­ing ca­reer what would it be?

My fa­vorite mo­ment so far would be my 2015 Freestyle World Cham­pi­onships podium in Kreis­chberg, Aus­tria. I went into that sea­son hav­ing just bro­ken my arm, had to re­cover quickly and got straight back into it, so I had a less than ideal prepa­ra­tion. The World Cham­pi­onships was the sea­son af­ter the Olympics. A lot of peo­ple say that they feel sort of down af­ter an Olympic year, but I felt de­ter­mined and in­spired from it. Af­ter miss­ing the first event of the sea­son, I knew I had some ground to cover. Get­ting to Kreis­chberg, I felt in the zone and re­ally de­ter­mined to put down some great ski­ing and get a re­sult. It’s prob­a­bly the best ski­ing I’ve done to date and it was nice to do it at a World Cham­pi­onships event.

You are def­i­nitely one to per­form un­der pres­sure. How did your two Olympic ex­pe­ri­ences differ: Van­cou­ver 2010 vs. Sochi 2014? Do you an­tic­i­pate South Korea in 2018 will be a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence again?

For me, my two Olympic ex­pe­ri­ences were so dif­fer­ent be­cause I was so young in Van­cou­ver. Go­ing through ado­les­cence and grow­ing up and learn­ing about the sport and about be­ing an elite ath­lete, the two ex­pe­ri­ences were re­ally dif­fer­ent. I had started to put some re­sults on the board lead­ing into Sochi so that meant I was com­ing in not just as a par­tic­i­pant but also as a real con­tender and com­peti­tor. I had dif­fer­ent goals and was a lot more ex­pe­ri­enced on the world stage. I also had a dif­fer­ent team around me. In Van­cou­ver, I was ski­ing with some of the guys I had never skied with be­fore and I didn’t have any of my usual team­mates around me com­pared to Sochi. I think this made Sochi a re­ally unique and spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence.

What was your goal go­ing into Sochi?

I feel like with ev­ery com­pe­ti­tion now, I want to win. That was the goal I had in my head go­ing into Sochi. I felt that I re­ally un­der­per­formed in qual­i­fi­ca­tions, so I left it right down to the wire. In be­tween qual­i­fi­ca­tions and fi­nals, I re­alised that this was the Olympics and I had to go for it. I had to let loose in or­der to ski the way I wanted to. And I some­how man­aged to flick a switch and had an at­ti­tude of “I am just gonna put it all on the line and go for it”. I skied way bet­ter than I had in weeks so I was re­ally happy to be able to do it un­der pres­sure when I had pre­vi­ously not been ski­ing well on that course. Then to qual­ify into the su­per fi­nal as fourth and then fin­ish with a fifth, I was re­ally happy with the re­sult.

You were amaz­ing to watch. So how is the prepa­ra­tion go­ing for the next Win­ter Olympics in South Korea, 2018?

Prepa­ra­tion is go­ing re­ally well. This year has been a re­ally good year of train­ing, with a lot of train­ing camps and vol­ume. We’ve wa­ter ramped in Aus­tralia and the US, skied in Aus­tralia and in Zer­matt. This year, be­ing a non-Olympic or World Cham­pi­onships year, skill de­vel­op­ment has been a re­ally good fo­cus for our team. I feel like there has been a lot of progress this year, but I guess like a lot of the win­ter sports you can do a lot of the train­ing and prepa­ra­tion, be in great form com­ing into an event, but it is re­ally what you do in that fi­nal run that counts. So I’m in­ter­ested to see how I am go­ing to per­form in a com­pe­ti­tion set­ting this sea­son.

You are known as one of the most ded­i­cated, hard-work­ing, and com­mit­ted ath­letes on the Aus­tralian Win­ter team. What drives you to push your­self day in and day out?

For me, my de­ter­mi­na­tion and mo­ti­va­tion to train hard comes from the de­sire to reach my goals. Also be­cause I have such a pas­sion for the sport. I love the win­ter sports com­mu­nity in Aus­tralia and to­gether with great peo­ple and a great en­vi­ron­ment around me, it makes train­ing eas­ier. You know, peo­ple think I am pun­ish­ing my­self in the gym ev­ery day and that kind of thing, but it’s easy for me to mo­ti­vate my­self to do it. I love the hard work, I love the train­ing, but most of all I love the pres­sure and the com­pe­ti­tion set­ting, and I know that sort of hard work and train­ing will re­ward me with a good re­sult.

I’m sure it will! Jac­qui Cooper cur­rently holds the record for most Win­ter Olympics com­peted in by an Aus­tralian, with five. Are you look­ing beyond South Korea and do you think you’ll top that?

The other day I was think­ing about South Korea, which is only the sea­son af­ter this. It’s only two years away. It just hit me about how soon it is go­ing to come around. I feel like I have so much more ski­ing and com­pe­ti­tion in me than two years. I couldn’t pos­si­bly imag­ine fin­ish­ing up in two years’ time. So, at the mo­ment, Korea is the fo­cus, but I re­ally want to ski for longer than that.

Do you still get ner­vous be­fore big com­pe­ti­tions?

Def­i­nitely, but that is the feel­ing that I love the most, that build-up to com­pe­ti­tion. I’ve com­peted so much now that I’ve learnt to chan­nel that ner­vous en­ergy into adren­a­line and I think I have skied bet­ter in com­pe­ti­tion than I have in train­ing. Maybe that’s be­cause I can chan­nel the nerves into a bit of fire to ski harder and jump big­ger.

And where is Aus­tralian moguls ski­ing headed?

I think Aus­tralian moguls ski­ing is sky­rock­et­ing at the mo­ment. There are so many awe­some kids com­ing up, it has been amaz­ing to see the tal­ent com­ing through. Be­ing on the Na­tional Team, we def­i­nitely feel a bit of re­spon­si­bil­ity to be role mod­els for them and it’s great that we can train at th­ese world-class fa­cil­i­ties along­side th­ese kids so that they can see us train­ing in a good en­vi­ron­ment. The pro­grams that we have here in Aus­tralia have cre­ated such a strong path­way and I can see great things for mogul ski­ing in Aus­tralia in years to come!

Tommy in full flight some time in the late 60s.

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