Other Sports

USA's Peterson takes silver in aerials

Jeret Peterson of the United States gives a silver-medal performance in men's aerials. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
Jeret Peterson of the United States gives a silver-medal performance in men's aerials. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Life philosophy and Jeret "Speedy" Peterson finally merged, rather than collided, and produced a memorable result at the Olympics.

All or nothing.

Sitting in fifth place after one jump made his decision incredibly simple in the final of the men's aerials.

The American didn't come all the way to Vancouver after living through what he called "enough turmoil and drama for three lifetimes" to leave the Hurricane on the shelf.

And so, at 6:48 on Thursday night, he went down the ramp with speed, and almost everyone in the viewing area at Cypress Mountain knew what would happen.

Peterson soared through the crisp night air and pulled off his signature trick — the Hurricane, a five-twist, three-flip maneuver — and electrified the spectators.

The 28-year-old from Boise tamed it, landed it and reeled in a silver medal.

"This is more than redemption than you can even think from Torino," he said. "It's the best day of my life."

This was from the man who was sent home from the Olympics in Turin, Italy, four years ago after a bar fight with a friend and received volumes of hate mail. And that was, by far, not even his lowest point.

Asked that question on Thursday, Peterson barely hesitated and said it was when he tried to kill himself. "Twice," he said.

Peterson said he has been sober for more than a year, saying: "I still have problems with depression but it is much more manageable. I don't do dumb things that make me feel guilty anymore. That's one of the big things I've really learned to overcome."

Peterson also admitted something else when he chatted with a small group of reporters.

"I've said in press conferences before I won't be happy if I don't get a gold medal — I completely lied," he said. "The reason I said that was because I didn't know. Nobody goes out there, 'Oh man, I hope I get a silver medal.' I've never been this happy in my entire life."

If this had been a Hollywood ending — cue the soaring music and hide your eyes — Peterson's thrilling Hurricane would have held up for gold.

But the second-to-last jumper, Alexei Grishin of Belarus, interrupted the feel-good story and went for a jump he had never made in competition, which also made Peterson feel proud.

"I got beat today by one of the best people that I could ever imagine being out there jumping with — there's people you're happy that beat you and people you don't want to beat you," Peterson said.

The first and second jumps are combined and Grishin's winning point total was 248.41 to Peterson's 247.21. American Ryan St. Onge was fourth.

Peterson also updated the status of the Hurricane.

"It might not be the last jump, but I'm pretty sure it'll be the last Hurricane I do," he said. "It's just something I wanted to prove to myself that I can come out and do it. That I have the ability to overcome odds.

"If I needed to step down and do an easier trick, then that would have been something that my coach would have made the call on. My personality would have been to go for it."

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