The sonowsports community was deeply shocked and saddened to learn about the passing of Alex “Chumpy” Pullin, who lost his life while spearfishing on the Gold Coast (AUS) on Wednesday morning.
Pullin made his World Cup debut in the Furano (JPN) in February 2007. Twelve months later he established himself as one of the most promising athletes winning his first World Cup medal in Gujo-Gifu (JPN). Making his Olympic debut at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, ”Chumpy” placed 17th and less than a month later won his first World Cup in Valmelenco (ITA) and came second a week later in La Molina (ESP).
The medals kept coming in late 2010, firmly ranking Pullin as a top competitor. In January 2011 he won his first FIS Snowboard World Championship gold medal in La Molina (ESP) and topped of the season with the highly coveted FIS World Cup SBX overall crystal globe.
In 2012/2013, Pullin created history, becoming the first Australian winter sports athlete to defend a World Championship title at the FIS Snowboard World Championships 2013 in Stoneham (CAN). Chumpy also won his second World Cup overall title after claiming four World Cup podium spots, which included two victories. In 2013, Pullin was awarded Athlete of the Year by Ski & Snowboard Australia.
Pullin was a three-time Olympian, who participated in the Vancouver 2010 (CAN), Sochi 2014 (RUS) - where he also was the Olympic flag-bearer at the opening ceremony - and PyeongChang 2018 (KOR) Olympic Winter Games with the latter being his best result, as he made the big final, finishing in 6th place.
Aside from the Olympics, Pullin started competing in the Winter X Games since 2008. He won a silver medal in the 2016 event in Aspen, Colorado, US.[ He won the snowboard cross events at the 2011 and 2013 FIS Snowboarding World Championships, making him the first Australian to defend a Snowboarding World Championships title. In 2011, Pullin also won a gold medal at the New Zealand Winter Games. In the 2016–17 FIS Snowboard World Cup, Pullin came fourth overall and won an event in Germany. He also won two bronze medals in events in Austria and Switzerland. Pullin won the first 2017–18 FIS Snowboard World Cup event, and came third at the next two events.
In 2011, he became an ambassador for Suzuki Australia as part of a sponsorship with the vehicle manufacturer. Outside of snowboarding, Pullin fronted a reggae band called Love Charli.
Snow Australia CEO, Michael Kennedy, reflected on Chumpy as a man of great character and a role model to other athletes.“We are all in shock today as one of the most beloved members of our close snow sport community, Chumpy, has sadly lost his life in what appears to be a tragic accident. Chumpy not only represented Australia proudly at three Olympic Games and on the World Cup circuit, but he was a true believer in giving back to the sport he loved so much. “He was a mentor to so many of our younger snowboarders, giving up his time to coach and provide advice to our future Olympians. His loss will be felt right across our community. We know it won’t just be here in Australia that Chumpy’s legacy will be remembered, but throughout the international snowboarding community. It wasn’t just his ability to deliver results that will be missed, but his leadership and the path that he laid for so many.” said Kennedy.
The Australian Olympic Team’s Chef de Mission at Vancouver (2010), Sochi (2014) and PyeongChang (2018) Ian Chesterman described Alex Pullin as a natural leader.
“This is an incredibly sad day for us all. Chumpy was a champion bloke as well as being a champion athlete. He had great charisma that allowed him to be a natural leader. He was always prepared to give his time to build winter sport in this country because he was so passionate about what he did. His enthusiasm was infectious and his impact on Olympic sport can’t be overstated. Chumpy will be greatly missed, not just within our winter sports family but by the so many people he impacted on both here and overseas.This is a desperately sad time for his family, his friends, teammates and all in winter sports. We are all devastated and our heartfelt sympathies go to his loved ones,” Mr Chesterman said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWIA) Geoff Lipshut also paid tribute to Alex Pullin’s contribution to elite snow sport in Australia.
“Chumpy was Australia’s great snowboard male pioneer. As a junior, he won a medal at the World Junior Championships, before going on to two World Championships, two World Cup Championships and three Olympics Games. From day one of his 12 years as an Olympic Winter Institute of Australia athlete, Chumpy attacked each day, competition and training session with his trademark intensity, purpose, energy and enthusiasm. Chumpy was a leader, a great champion and will be missed by all of the winter sports community both in Australia and around the World. It is very sad,” Mr Lipshut concluded.
SIN would like to extend the deepest condolences to Alex Pullin’s family, friends and teammates, as well as to Snow Australia and the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWIA).