Down Under Double CorkTwo-time and defending Winter X SuperPipe gold medalist Torah Bright knows what it takes to win. Since arriving on the international scene more than seven years ago, she's steadily risen to the top of the women's game and is perhaps the most progressive woman competing.
The 23-year-old recently added another trick to her bag that'll keep her on top and could bring the rest of the sport up with her: a double cork 900. Never before attempted by a woman in competition, the trick is just a half a rotation behind the same stunt that's sweeping the men's ranks and separating podium contenders from the rest of the pack.
"I started doing them in New Zealand," Bright says, referring to practice time at the Burton Global Open Series event in August 2009. But her desire to throw them is nothing new.
"It's kind of been a long-time thing with my brother," she says of older bro Ben, an experienced ripper and her coach. "It's been time on the trampoline and doing other stuff on snow to work up to it. It's just a matter of finding enough courage to actually try it."
The double cork is essentially two off-axis spins, similar to a double back flip. It's been said that any male hoping to make the U.S. Olympic team must have a double cork 1080 in his bag. Winter X superstar Shaun White used a back-to-back double cork combo to win the first U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix Dec. 12 in Copper Mountain, Colo. Louie Vito also flashed back-to-back doubles for second.
Two-time Winter X gold medalist Kelly Clarkwho also owns Olympic golddidn't need the double cork to win the women's Grand Prix halfpipe comp at Copper, and she may not even have one to throw. So if Bright can land one, it'll likely land her on top of the podium.
"I'd definitely love to [pull one at a competition] soon," Bright said. "It's just a matter of finding the right time and the right place to put it in there. I'm planning on having it at the [Winter] X Games. That would be a perfect place to bring it and showcase it." Bright said the progression in men's and women's snowboarding is proceeding at a natural pace, despite what looks like huge leaps forward in the pipe. "With more time on the snow, everybody's ability gets better every year," she says. "It's a given that we are going to progress as a sport. But this year with the Olympics, everybody wants to be there, everybody wants to be on top of their game."
That said, Bright knows the double cork would certainly set her apart because, she says, "No one's really doing anything new from last season." She adds that throwing a double cork on a stage like Winter X would go a long way towards pushing other women to step it up, noting that it's not an easy trick.
"I'm pretty taken aback that I even tried it," she says with a laugh. "When my brother told me I could do it, I wasn't sure at all. I've never been so terrified in my life. I usually don't have to psych myself up for anything, but on this, it was different. I'm having to pull every bit I had in me to get that out of myself."
That's a big admission from Bright, maybe the best woman going. The four-time WX SuperPipe medalist owns two of the discipline's past three gold medals and has advanced women's riding with tricks like a tough switch backside 720.
"My whole mindset with my riding, and with Ben, is that it's all about progression as a rider, and to ultimately push the sport," Bright says. "I'm always up for trying new things. I'm just trying to ride like the guys."
Landing a double cork at Winter X would leave most guys just trying to ride like her.