The Winter Olympics are starting on February 6! We caught up with 18-year-old American freeskier Torin Yater-Wallace. Target is sponsoring him to continue his education. He talked to us about what it’s like to be such a young competitor, what he’s looking forward to at this year’s Games, and his most embarrassing freeskiing moment.
Q: How did you get into freeskiing?
Torin: I grew up in Aspen [Colorado] so when I was one and a half my parents got me on skis, and I kind of just did ski lessons until I was 6. I started jumping off stuff like catwalks and moguls when I was bored, so my mom put me in the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club on the mogul team. I did that until I was 12. It was fun, but it was kind of restricting. There were rules. I wanted to do my own thing. My favorite part was jumping. And down the mogul course my last year I did a 180 before the jump in the mogul course and then did a Switch 540 and that’s when I thought, “Wow, this is the stuff I want to do.” So then I started skiing park and halfpipe at 12. I just loved it and kept doing it all summer and winter—whenever I could ski—and ever since then I’ve been competing.
Q: What kind of sacrifices have you had to make to be an elite athlete?
Torin: I hardly ever see my family and my sister is in her third year of college now, so I don’t really get to see her much either except for the holidays. I was just with her for the summer, but besides that it’s pretty hectic. I’d say a lot of family time I miss out on, family vacations; I don’t remember when the last one I went on was.
Q: You’ve accomplished so much at such a young age. What are your ultimate goals?
Torin: I really haven’t gotten that far yet! I suppose I want to be an icon in the sport, and do something that will be recognized and remembered forever. I’d like to be remembered as someone who changed things and represented us well. It would just be cool to stay in the industry as long as I can and make a difference.
Q: What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you during competition?
Torin: My pants have fallen down! I was wearing them too low. I was just like, “Wow, this is so embarrassing!”
Q: Do you have any pre-run rituals?
Torin: I can’t really ski without music. I don’t remember the last day I skied without music. Stuff that pumps you up, I guess. But I always refresh it before each event. If you’re listening to the same stuff and you’ve heard it so many times that you can’t get fired up, then you’ve got to get some new beats.
Q: Are you feeling the pressure of the Olympics?
Torin: Oh, I’m feeling pressure. I’m trying not to but yeah, there’s a lot. It’s scary. But to me a lot of that is mental. When it comes down to it, it’s who can keep their composure when he is on top of the pipe looking down on this icy thing with lights lighting it up and people down the walls on the bottom, so I’ve been working on mental preparation more than anything else.
Torin is slated to compete in his first ever Olympic event, the Men’s Ski Halfpipe on February 18. We will be rooting for him! Also check Ink Splot 26 soon for an interview with female freeskier Roz Groenewoud.
En-Szu, STACKS Staffer
Photo credit: Alli Sports