Basalt’s Torin Yater-Wallace wrapped up training at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on Monday ahead of the debut of men’s halfpipe skiing at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics on Tuesday.
Foggy weather kept the intense sun off the venue and preserved the snow, and the top Americans such as Yater-Wallace said the lack of sun dramatically improved conditions in the halfpipe.
“The halfpipe was kind of over-vert, but now it’s doing pretty good,” said Yater-Wallace, 18, an Aspen High School athlete. “There were a lot of flat landings earlier for everybody, but now it’s getting better.”
Yater-Wallace is part of U.S. Freeskiing Team that has high hopes in Tuesday’s halfpipe.
“I feel pretty good headed in,” he said. “I don’t really like setting expectations for myself, but I’m hoping to just ski the best I can and feel good about my skiing.”
Yater-Wallace became the youngest X Games medalist ever at age 15, and the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club athlete has been consistent in the years since.
American men historically swept the podium last week in the Olympic debut of slopestyle skiing and some observers think they could repeat in the halfpipe on Tuesday.
“I think we need to have three silver jackets on the podium for halfpipe as well,” said Cecily Wilson, whose son, Lyman Currier, will also be competing Tuesday. “That would be beautiful; that’s what I’m envisioning.”
Wilson has three Colorado free-skiers in mind. Currier, who went to Boulder High School and finished up online with George Washington University, is good friends with Yater-Wallace and Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck, who attends the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy.
“Lyman said he couldn’t be happier traveling with this team of buddies that he’s been with for a long time,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot of security within that, and they egg each other on and push each other to be the best they can be. So I think there’s something to be said about traveling with a force like that. At the end of the day they want nothing but the best for each other.”
Wilson said no matter their results, the three U.S. Ski Team members will be pulling for each other.
“Even at X Games, when Torin was [injured and] unable to compete, there he was supporting all of his other buddies who were up there” Wilson said, “and there’s something to be said about that sort of strength of character and that ability to really genuinely want the best for your friends.”