Sochi 2014: One-On-One With Torin Yater-Wallace
Torin Yater-Wallace might be just 17-years-old but he’s already conquered the world of freestyle skiing, winning six X Games medals – including two gold medals – over the last three years. However, a little extra preparation has gone into getting set for the upcoming season for Yater- Wallace, with good reason.
The 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia will mark the first time that freestyle skiing will be included in the world’s most widely watched sporting event. With winter right around the corner, the games will be here before you know it. So we caught up with the Target and Red Bull sponsored skier to find out a little about his past and to discuss how he’s getting ready for the biggest event of his young career.
CraveOnline: How did skiing become a part of your life?
Torin Yater-Wallace: I grew up in Aspen, Colo. and it was just kind of a ski town around there and my parents put me in the ski program along with the other kids and when I was about six-years-old I joined freestyle skiing because I was bored of normal turns and whatnot. I did moguls and aerials for about four years, just learning the basics, up until I was around 12 and then I got into halfpipes and slopestyle. I trained in them and ever since then I’ve been doing it – and I’ve been pretty addicted.
Crave: It’s clear you have the chops, winning superpipe gold at X Games Tignes this year. Can you talk a little bit about what that was like?
Yater-Wallace: It was definitely the best day of my life, winning the gold in super this year. Last year was amazing as well but this year, to be able to do it [win gold] twice in a row, with all the pressure of the year before and the expectations, was just a feeling I really can’t describe. I hope to go back next year and do that again.
Crave: Do you think the experience helped you prepare for the upcoming Olympics in Sochi?
Yater-Wallace: I would say it helped me in a few ways, for sure, just based on all the pressure that’s put on you because of the Olmypics. That same pressure will come into play, plus the expectations of my skills and my accomplishments in the past – people might compare that to the Olympics. It definitely helped me out and gave me a little taste of what the pressure will be like next year.
Crave: This is the first time freeskiing will be part of the games, can you describe the sport for those who might be unfamiliar?
Yater-Wallace: Yeah, freeskiing is just like snowboarding, which has been in the Olympics, except on skis. You’re doing tricks on jumps and on a halfpipe that’s about 500-feet long, progressively building up your speed and getting altitude out of the halfpipe and doing rotations, spins and grabs, with your preferred style. You get scored out of 100.
Crave: And how excited are you that it’s been added?
Yater-Wallace: It means a lot to me, it’s a whole different audience and a lot broader one than people who just watch X Games or smaller events like Dew Tour. Being able to do it in front of the whole entire world, with millions of people watching on TV and live in Russia would just be insane. For people to see the sport that I do and what I’ve worked really hard for would be really amazing.
Crave: Can you discuss your preparation as you get set for the games?
Yater-Wallace: My preparation is just about the same as any other year – head to Whistler [B. C.] and Mount Hood, to the glaciers on those mountains, as well as New Zealand. Hopefully I’ll learn a few new tricks, get into the gym a little bit and be fully prepared for the upcoming season. I know every single person going [to the Olympics] has pretty much the skill level to win but when it comes down to it and you’re sitting at the start gate and you’re at the top, in my mind it’s all a mental game. So I think just preparing myself for what will come, that pressure of standing at that start gate in Russia, looking down at the halfpipe and thinking of all the people watching while keeping calm, so I would say a little mental preparation is what I’m going to be working on come next February.
Crave: When you’re standing there at the top it’s going to be one of those moments you never forget.
Yater-Wallace: Yeah, its definitely going to be an unforgettable moment, I mean every single event I’ve done I can remember the starting gate – the pressure of the lights, the crowd and everything below you. To think, 30 seconds later you could have either just landed the most perfect run of your life or have not quite completed it. You’re hoping that you do it well and it’s an incredible moment.
Crave: Speaking of memorable moments, what would you say as been the highlight of your career up to this point?
Yater-Wallace: I would say the two X Games gold, both in a row, in France have definitely been the highlight, as well as my very first X Games when I was 15 – just seeing the whole scene there, because I had watched the X Games in Aspen since I lived there my whole entire life. Actually having the opportunity to get an invite and medaling my first time there, I still to this day remember everything I did. It’s a pretty crazy moment, how star-struck you feel around these men you’re competing against. It was a pretty pivotal moment for me, just standing there at the top – not just hanging out at the X Games but actually getting to compete in them.
Crave: What are you most looking forward to from the whole Olympics experience?
Yater-Wallace: I don’t know if I really have something I’m most looking forward to from the whole experience of going to Russia. I think just representing our country would be amazing and just being able to go and see what the Olympics is like would just be the main experience for me – aside from the skiing. I do skiing events all the time and this one is going to be on a lot larger level. I never go to places where there are huge opening ceremonies and it’s all televised. I’m looking forward to the whole thing in general, I really don’t know what to look forward to though because I don’t know what it’s going to be like – it’s history.
Editor's Note: The Dew Tour's iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado was recently announced as the first of five Olympic selection events that will ultimately decide which snowboard and freeski athletes will represent the U.S. in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Photo Credit: Getty