Fans of the winter Olympics may recall an Australian snowboarder named Alex Pullin. Pullin, whose nickname was Chumpy, competed in the 2010, 2014, and 2018 Winter Olympics. Although he never medaled at the Olympics, Pullin’s impact on the snowboarding world can’t go understated. Unfortunately, he recently passed away in a spearfishing accident.
Alex Pullin’s career
According to sponsor Red Bull, Pullin grew up in Mansfield, Australia. The son of parents who owned a ski and snowboard shop, Pullin entered the extreme sports world at an early age. He started skiing at just three years old and picked up his first snowboard at eight. Pullin lived on a mountain, so a nice ski or snowboard session was never more than a few steps away.
At just 14 years old, Pulling began competing professionally, winning his first Australian National Championship within his first few months. He qualified for the 2010 Finals at snowboarding’s World Cup and competed in his first Olympics. Early on, it appeared that Pullin might make it late into the competition, but he eventually fell to gold medalist Seth Wescott.
Pullin continued his life in snowboarding, even carrying the flag at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. He fell in the quarterfinals. Pullin made international waves after being the runner up at the 2016 Winter X Games. He competed in the 2018 Olympics but failed to medal. Despite his lack of success at the Winter Olympics, however, Pullin was a two-time world champion
Pullin retired from the sport in June. Unfortunately, he was unable to enjoy his retirement after the tragic events unfolded on his spearfishing adventure.
Pullin liked spending time outdoors. Followers on social media enjoyed videos and pictures of him spending time on the water when he couldn’t ski or snowboard. On the day of his death, while he spearfished in his native Australia, another diver found him unconscious and without an oxygen mask. According to reports, he was spearfishing on the reef when something went wrong.
After his body was discovered, Queensland Ambulance Service put out a cryptic message per CNN: “Paramedics were called to a post-immersion incident off Nineteenth Avenue at Palm Beach just after 10.30 am,” said the Queensland Ambulance Service in a statement Wednesday. “One patient was treated at the scene.”
The reef was one of Pullin’s favorite spots to swim. He was 32 years old.
Gone too soon
People across the world mourned the loss of the iconic snowboarder. While he was popular around the world, his fame in Australia was something special. Snow Australia, who oversaw most of his snowboarding career, released this statement:
“The Snow Australia community is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of triple Olympian, Alex Pullin, who today lost his life while spearfishing on the Gold Coast this morning. Our deepest condolences are with Alex’s family, as well as his teammates and support staff. Alex was a beloved member of the Snow Australia community, and he will be dearly missed.” (Per Sports Illustrated)
Pullin might not have been an international name that other athletes were, but his story was an inspiration to snowboarders everywhere. The sport lost an icon and a friend that fateful day, and the game is likely to reel from this loss for years to come. While we often assume that the young athletes in front of us will be around forever when taken, it can seem like too much.
Pullin made the most out of his 32 years, but the tragedy will undoubtedly leave people wondering what could have been for years to come.