- Freestyle Skiing
Getting to know halfpipe skier Torin Yater-Wallace
Teenage Olympians have become commonplace at the Olympics as they are the future of their sport. One such teenager is 18-year-old freeskier, Torin Yater-Wallace. The Aspen native is heading to Sochi for the first time to compete in the new ski halfpipe discipline, an event he has dominated. He's the reigning world and Winter X Games silver medalist, and won the World Cup Test Event in Sochi last February.
Despite his success in the pipe, Yater-Wallace was a discretionary pick onto the U.S. Olympic team. He didn’t compete in any of the qualifier events because he broke two ribs in a training session at the 2013 iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge – the first Olympic qualifier. We caught up with the boy wonder at the 100 Days celebration in Times Square (then 17 years old) to talk about the challenges of balancing skiing with school, dealing with fame and travel, and of course, video games and girls.
At 17 years old, how do you handle all the fame and traveling?
It’s pretty crazy. I don’t remember the last time I was home for more than five days. It’s absolute hecticness. You gotta stop and think about your life and realize you’re 17 and try and chill and take those characteristics of a 17-year-old back.
How do you balance school with skiing?
My entire school career has been crazy. Now I just do high school online. I’m going into my last year right now - cross my fingers I’ll get it finished soon. I usually do some school in the summer and a little bit in the fall. I don’t do any school in the winter so I can focus all my time on skiing, especially this year. Being a 17-year-old kid is kind of something that’s been lost out the door a while ago. I sometimes get to hang out with my friends at home and live an almost normal high schooler’s life, but it’s not very common. I’ve kind of accepted this is the life I get to live and I’m enjoying it.
Embedded video_content_type: Top of his class: Torin Yater-Wallace
You’re one of the top freeskiers in the world, but do you think about going to college?
I definitely thought about college with the U.S. ski team - we get a scholarship to Westminster in Utah. Right now all my time and dedication is into skiing. I won’t disregard college. Definitely still want to be something that’s attainable.
Last February you went to Sochi for the World Cup test event. What were your impressions of the halfpipe?
The halfpipe was definitely at a great facility, built good, but the temperatures were pretty high - 45 to 50 degrees, with rain, fog, real slushy conditions. For some people it’s a disadvantage, but I like when the pipe’s a little slushy. Maybe it brings down the fear factor of falling. There’s a little more give than an icy, rock hard pipe.
Are there differences between competing day vs. night?
Looking down the pipe with those huge lights reflecting off those icy walls are an intimidating thing. I would say some advantage of competing during the day is it doesn’t get as icy. but at the same time the iciness makes it really fast so you can get amplitude. I would say I prefer at night. It looks sweet with the lights.
The U.S. team is very deep with talent. How competitive are all of you?
I personally am not a very competitive person unless it comes to competing in skiing, but I wouldn’t say anybody within the team is very competitive. We’re all good friends. We travel around together to every event all year around the world. It’s kind of a family.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Model Olympian: Freeskier Torin Yater-Wallace
What does Torin like to do when he’s off the mountain?
I like to do anything a 17-year-old would like to do. I play X Box a lot, skateboard a lot, hang with my friends back home. But, a lot of people I hang out with in the ski industry are older than me so I’ve had to mature a little quicker.
What advice have you been given from the older guys?
I really haven’t gotten any advice from other guys. I’ve taken on the challenge independently. It’s an experience in itself and an adventure to travel the world at such a young age and have this responsibility, but it’s fun.
What are your favorite video games?
I like Skate 3 a lot, NHL 14 and Grand Theft Auto 5.
I’ve seen videos of you doing slopestyle, literally flying through the air, landing an 1800. What does that feel like?
I don’t really know what it felt like to do an 1800 because there’s so much spinning at one time - just dizzy after it. Definitely would not consider myself a halfpipe skier or a pipe jock, if you will. I’m a halfpipe competitor. Outside of that every single day I hardly ever ski halfpipe. I only ski jumps and rails or whatever I want to do. Unless it’s kind of game time and I have to lockdown and practice a little bit.
Do you think about competing in both?
I have thought about competing in both, but these last few years it’s been a lot leading up to this whole Olympic deal. It’s kind of been easier to focus on one and try to be as successful as possible in that.
You travel the world always on the quest for winter. Where are some of your favorite places you’ve been to?
For skiing, Whistler Blackcomb is definitely one of my picks. It’s an all-time great resort, a great town and village. Tignes, France – that’s where the European X Games have been – that’s insane. Skiing the European Alps, you can just take chairlift to chairlift, from country to country. It’s the most ginormous terrain so it’s just awesome. And my hometown Aspen is something I can’t give up.
Do you have a coach?
The U.S. team has a coach. His name is Andy Woods. And I also have worked with a coach named Alana Chase for pretty much my whole life. I would say I’m a pretty independent person so I don’t like when a coach is all up in your face. I like my coaches because I can do what I want and when I do need help with something, I would approach them and talk with them about what I’m doing wrong and we’ll come up with something to fix it.
What’s the dynamic since the coach isn’t as talented as you or can execute the tricks you do?
The coach helps out with what I can fix because even though they may not have done it before, they know the physics of how it works. A lot of it is a mental game. They can really help with pumping you up and help with which trick or run to put together when it’s really hectic at the pipe.
Do you have a girlfriend?
No. It’s real challenging with a girlfriend being on the road so much.
Maybe you should date another freeskier.
Yeah, but then it gets weird. I don’t like to date girls who compete at a high level event just like I am. It’s just weird talking about. I’m not into it.