SNOWBOARD: If a gymnast wants to transfer their skills to a Winter Olympic sport, they usually go down the Alisa Camplin or Lydia Lassila path and pursue aerial skiing.
Not 22-year-old Stephanie Magiros. The former National gymnast with bright colours streaking through her blonde hair is now a professional snowboard halfpipe rider.
“I’ve lived my whole life upside down,” the goofy snowboarder says matter-of-factly.
“All of my air awareness training from gymnastics helps so much when I do tricks - it doesn’t matter that I have a snowboard on my feet.”
With a stint cheerleading for the NSW State of Origin side behind her, Magiros is now accustomed to back-flipping with 10kg of boots, bindings and a snowboard strapped to her feet.
The Sydneysider first discovered her passion on a school trip when she was 16. The Magiros parents encouraged her to ski, but typically, their charger dug her feet in and picked snowboarding. Instantly she was hooked.
“I went back to the snow for one week after just sitting and watching every video on snowboarding I could find," Magiros explains.
"I found Torah Bright and the halfpipe and the Olympic side of it and I thought: I’ve found my sport.”
When Bright won Australia’s first Olympic gold medal in snowboard halfpipe, Magiros was standing in the Vancouver cold with her parents.
“It was unbelievable - the atmosphere, the crowd, the Canadians. It fuelled my fire to get there myself.”
Magiros is now a regular on the World Cup circuit, reaching a personal best 10th place at the 2013 Park City World Cup in February.
The NSW Institute of Sport athlete makes a habit of “hanging out” with her buddy Bright on the World Cup circuit, and is often in the gym with Australian Halfpipe World Champion Holly Crawford.
“They’re great role models for me to be behind.
“They’ve helped me so much and the Australian girls now have such a good reputation. It’s good to be a part of that - but the rest is up to us!
“I want to be able to combine Torah’s tricks and Holly’s amplitude.”
The perfect mix is not far beyond her. Australia can qualify up to four women in the halfpipe event at the Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
“It’s been “Torah and Holly” for a while and now it’s “Holly, Torah and Steph” which is pretty cool.”
Youth Olympic Games medallist Alexandra Fitch is another rider in contention for the Games, along with top contenders Amber Arazny and Hannah Trigger, showing just how strong Australia’s snowboard stocks are.
Their desire to get to the Games is palpable. Just ask Magiros, who tried to refuse surgery when her appendix was about to burst in April- for fear of missing crucial training.
“The doctor said it would take 6-8 weeks to make a full recovery and I had a snowboard trip in five weeks time!
“Then he explained I could die without surgery, so I was like okay, I’ll re-write my decision!”
It was a lucky escape for Magiros, who just weeks earlier needed an emergency rescue from the out of bounds terrain in Sierra Nevada, Spain where her and Fitch were lost for hours.
“One wrong turn, zero visibility, and it was all downhill from there,” she said of the scary experience.
But Magiros is not one to be held back. Two days after the Spanish near-disaster she was back in competition, albeit a little shaken and not at her best. Eight weeks after surgery she was back to full strength.
“I was off for a month – and trust me, it’s really hard for me to keep still for a month. Not a day goes past without doing a handstand!
“Now my core is stronger than ever, my VO2 has gone up, and everything is looking up.”
Magiros, who continues to do gymnastics to help her snowboard style, has just returned from the World Cup in New Zealand and is putting the finishing touches on her fitness back home in Sydney before heading off to try and secure her spot for Sochi.