Bright fires up at everything

STARVED of any coverage of the Winter Olympics while in cable-coverage-only Italy last week, I relied heavily on the internet to find out what was happening.

It might be just the way I use the search engines but what came up more often than anything else was Torah Bright - now one of the few Australians with two Winter Games medals - criticising one thing after another.

Fortunately, I had landed back in Oz when she impressively took silver in the halfpipe event and she was unquestionably effervescent and charming thereafter but it seemed beforehand that she was either in permanent whinge-mode or saw herself as the spokeswoman for the Olympic reform movement.

Before the Games got started, Bright was into the Australian Olympic Committees social media guidelines, telling The Australian that "I care not for the trivial policies of an organisation that comes into my sport once every four years".

"Freedom of choice and speech are humanity's greatest gifts," she said. "I am the master of my social media. I am captain of my voice."

She presumably will be less than impressed with the AOC's latest foray into the area banning two prominent ski resorts from using their social media accounts to congratulate Australian team members on their efforts on the grounds that it creates an unauthorised association between a non-Games sponsor and the athlete.

The power of social media, eh?

But it was not only the AOC in Bright's sights - first there was the IOC, which refused to allow her to place a sticker on her competition headgear and board in honour of deceased fellow snowboarder Canadian Sarah Burke, and then Games organisers.

The Russians were canned first for a poor-quality set-up for the slopestyle events and then for the construction of the halfpipe competition facility.

Her brother and coach, Ben, weighed in, describing the construction of the latter as dangerous, using a two-word phrase that many media outlets published with the first - the most common of adjectival profanities meekly dashed out.

Personally I would have been more inclined not to refer to the second.

The coach should have known better in my view and so should those who reported his words.

Meanwhile, it appears that the snowboarders wanted their own man, an American who works on their pro tour to construct the course, but the Russians thought otherwise - no surprise there.

Although unlike in Australia there won't be any royal commission to find out why.

Last in Torah Bright's sights were those who run FIS - the international ski federation which has control of snowboard events, among others, at the Games.

She clearly would rather that the pro tour, that is the professional athletes, to be making all the decisions.

That's not uncommon among the more modern sports which at the top end have only ever known a professional set-up. The Games - its idealism, traditions, strict commercial restrictions and lack of prizemoney - are a foreign culture.

The IOC rather spends big dollars on spreading the word, illustrated perfectly yesterday morning by the inclusion of a novice Brazilian girl in the aerials competition performing the most basic of jumps and with zero chance of progression unless everyone else fell over - as once again happened in a short-track medal race a night or two earlier, reviving memories of Steven Bradbury's triumph in 2002.

Come to think of it, there are a lot of events at the Winter Olympics in which any stumble or tumble is fatal for an athlete's progression in what are mostly cut-throat competition formats.

Maybe curling is the only event where it isn't.

Perhaps I'm just a Summer Games man.


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