Steamboat Springs Jeret “Speedy” Peterson never trained in Steamboat, but news Tuesday that he died Monday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound near Salt Lake City rattled all of the freestyle skiing community, local skiers said.
“It was distributing news. … Freestyle skiing is an individual sport, but we’re all one big family,” Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club freestyle coach Rob Day said. “It’s brothers and sisters, in a way. These kids all spend so much time together, especially those guys out in Utah, they’re all some of your best friends and you’re with them every day, every moment, every hour.”
Peterson never called Steamboat home, but the Boise, Idaho, skier always managed to make himself at home when competing on the slopes here. He placed 13th in a World Cup event in Steamboat in 2003, and was second in the U.S. Olympics Trails in December 2005.
He recorded his best finish in Steamboat four years later, winning the U.S. Olympic Trials on a snowy December 2009 day. He held off Lowell Whiteman School graduate Ryan St. Onge for the victory, with the two American aces wowing a large Mount Werner crowd with a thrilling duel.
Peterson competed in three Olympics, placing ninth in Salt Lake City in 2002, seventh in Torino, Italy, in 2006, and reaching one of the pinnacles of his career in 2010, when he earned an Olympic silver medal with his trademark trick, the Hurricane, at Cypress Mountain, British Columbia.
Another career highlight came in 2007, when he won back-to-back World Cup competitions and in doing so set a still-standing, two-jump world scoring record of 268.70.
“Today is a sad day for skiing. Jeret ‘Speedy’ Peterson was a great champion who will be missed and remembered as a positive, innovative force on not only his sport of freestyle aerials, but on the entire U.S. Freestyle Ski Team family and everyone he touched,” U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Bill Marolt said in prepared statement.
The release said Peterson had retired from the sport and was a full-time business student at a Salt Lake City college.
— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or e-mail jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com