A SPECIAL childhood memory and the introduction of his sport into the Winter Olympics meant Brendan ‘Bubba’ Newby (25) achieved his childhood dream in PyeongChang four years ago.
“My dad took me to a couple of the events at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City and since then I always wanted to be an Olympian but the sport I chose (freestyle halfpipe skiing) wasn’t in the Olympics. That all changed in 2014 and suddenly it was an option.
“So to do it, with my whole family there in PyeongChang, was surreal. It took me a few months to understand it really happened, for it to sink in,” he says of finishing 22nd in the halfpipe on his Olympic debut.”
Bubba was born in Cork 25 years ago when his father Van, a professor of economics, spent two years teaching in UCC.
“I think I’m skiing a lot better now than I was in Pyeongchang,” he says of pulling off his first ‘double’ in Austria in November.
“It’s a left double flare, like a double side-flip. It’s been in my head, just giving me nightmares, for seven to 10 years and was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done so it was nice to finally do it.
“I’ve also added a really good switch (backwards) Cork Seven which is two spins with a ‘cork’ so upside-down, and also a right Cork Nine, which is two and a half spins forward with a flip.”
Qualifying for Beijing was difficult because he took most of the 2019 season off, not knowing that, due to Covid disruptions, that would backfire on him.
That’s just given him an intense qualification period of four back-to-back World Cups in the past month but he finished inside the world’s top 30 in each of them and secured his qualification with a 27th in Mammoth on January 8.
“To do a snow sport for a country that doesn’t have snow, and to be accepted and supported so well by everyone in 2018, that’s a big reason why I decided to go again,” he explains.
“If any Irish kids can see me and say ‘that’s possible’ and get into it, that would be the coolest thing in the world for me.”