By Nick Mulvenney
ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Smiling snowboarder Torah Bright will be going home from the Sochi Olympics not only with a silver medal but also the satisfaction of having proved a lot of people wrong.
The Australian finished 18th in the snowboard cross at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on Sunday, having achieved the unprecedented feat of competing in all three Olympic snowboard events.
While her friend Shaun White backed out of one of the two events he had originally entered for fear he might get injured and jeopardize his halfpipe title defense, Bright was prepared to sacrifice everything.
"The journey has been absolutely incredible," she told reporters. "This was a challenge that I gave myself and I did it. Everybody laughed at me but I just said 'it's just snowboarding'.
"I was prepared to not medal in anything because that's the reality. I mean the reality is, I could have put down the run I did in the pipe the other night and not have got on the podium."
Coming into Sochi as defending halfpipe champion, Bright's silver medal in that event last Wednesday was no great surprise.
Some considered her unlucky not to have won gold but her reply to questions about the judging was indicative of the spirit she has brought to the Games.
"It's just about the sport of snowboarding and putting on a good show," she said.
"Win, lose or draw, it doesn't really matter the color of the medal, we're here united as shredding babes."
Rarely seen without a smile on her face, Bright has said all the way through her third Games that her goal was just to have fun and showcase the sport she loves.
She finished seventh in the slopestyle, a new Olympic event for Sochi in which boarders are also judged for their tricks.
The cross event is a completely different type of contest, however, a race against other riders down a slope littered with obstacles, turns and jumps.
"Oh my gosh! It was so scary! Snowboard cross is the toughest one," the 27-year-old said after being eliminated in the quarter-finals.
"It is absolutely brutal, but I would go through it again? Why not? It's good fun."
Bright again proved that her sporting spirit was more than just talk after her Olympic campaign was brought to a close when she fell trying to avoid making contact with compatriot Belle Brockhoff.
"I was cutting so far left to make sure I didn't touch her and fall," Bright recalled.
"It was close and in my head I was like 'don't take out your team mate you'll be the worst Australian ever'.
"When I fell I looked up and saw she was still on her feet I breathed a sigh of relief and was so grateful."
Raised a Mormon, Bright denies herself some of the more traditional rites of celebration but that does not mean she will not be letting her hair down now her competitions are over.
"I'll be going out dancing tonight," she said. "I have to celebrate my medal."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)