Heading into the Vancouver Olympics, Jeret "Speedy" Peterson was better known for getting thrown out of Turin for drunken antics than for his freestyle skiing.
That's over now.
Peterson won silver in aerials on Thursday night after hitting a "Hurricane," an astounding move that requires the skier to flip twice and twist five times before landing cleanly. He was edged out by Belarussian skier Alexei Grishin, but just getting to these Olympics was an accomplishment for Peterson.
His journey to the medal stand is an amazing one. In Turin, he tried the Hurricane, but fell on the landing. The night that he didn't win a medal, he headed to a bar in Turin.
That night, at a bar, somebody yelled at him: “You choked.” Peterson drank and drank, cavorting about, wine bottle in hand and sorrows bathed.
Later that morning, walking around with his friend Mason Fuller, Peterson was stopped by a cop and asked for ID. When he tried walking away, Fuller grabbed Peterson by the arm. Peterson responded by punching him in the face.
“When I drank, I’d fight a curb,” Peterson said. “I’d fight a building.” And he’d fight a childhood friend. Peterson apologized immediately. The United States Olympic Committee kicked him out of Turin anyway.
After that incident, Peterson's life continued to spiral to the brink of suicide until he sought help and returned to skiing.
A silver medal doesn't magically wipe away the ups and downs of Peterson's life, but it does ensure one thing. Peterson will be remembered for landing a breathtaking aerial above anything else.
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