News / USA

US Skier Aims High in New Olympic Event

Wing Tai Barrymore hopes to compete in a new Olympic event, freestyle skiing in the halfpipe.(Photo: Sarah Brunson/U.S. Freeskiing)
Wing Tai Barrymore hopes to compete in a new Olympic event, freestyle skiing in the halfpipe.(Photo: Sarah Brunson/U.S. Freeskiing)
Tom Banse
— The 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, will feature a new medal event - freestyle skiing in the halfpipe - and a daring skier from the U.S. Northwest hopes to make his Olympic debut at the event.

Dirt bike racing was Wing Tai Barrymore’s first true passion. He was on track to become a professional motocross competitor until midway through high school in Hailey, Idaho.

Daring competitor

"I was gone so much going to all these big races. I was failing high school. Really, I was missing out on being a kid," said Barrymore, whose first name means "forever peaceful" in Chinese.

He and his parents recognized he needed a change, so Barrymore joined the local Sun Valley ski team in his junior year.

"I just did it to have a break," he said. "You know, I always kind of intended on returning to motocross, but I found this sport and I really love it. Everything has gone so well with it in the past four or five years that it's just been great."



Skiing is in his genes. His grandfather began a long career making ski movies by filming the 1960 Winter Olympics. His father skied in some of those pioneering films, which helped to popularize freestyle skiing.

Barrymore’s first name - Wing Tai - honors older ancestors, including his great grandfather on his mother’s side, who emigrated from China to Hawaii.

Going big

Barrymore started to compete in halfpipe skiing at age 16. Within three years, he became junior national champion twice and won a World Cup halfpipe event.

Last season, he was named to the U.S. Ski Team. Now the 21-year-old has a good shot at making the Olympic team, according to Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation freestyle program director Andy Ware. Ware gives some credit to Barrymore's prior motocross experience.

Freestyle skier Wing Tai Barrymore, near his Sun Valley, Idaho, home. (VOA/T. Banse)Freestyle skier Wing Tai Barrymore, near his Sun Valley, Idaho, home. (VOA/T. Banse)
​"Going big, getting a lot of air, is something he is very comfortable with," Ware said. "That's something we can't coach. We can stress it to an athlete, but it's really up to them as to how far they're willing to let themselves go. For Tai, he takes it right to the ceiling."

Halfpipe

The halfpipe is a long sloping trough of densely packed snow. Skiers and snowboarders use identical ones in judged competitions. The athlete drops in and then executes of routine of jumps, spins, gnarly flips, grabs, and backwards and forward landings.

A strong skier like Barrymore can soar more than six meters above the pipe's lip. If he fails to maintain cat-like abilities, he could fall four stories to the bottom.

"It's scary, you know. Dropping into that big, icy monster is not an easy thing to do," Barrymore said. "It's definitely dangerous, for sure. But one of the things for me, I feel like I always have so much fun doing it that I never think about it."

Barrymore, who  is no relation to the Hollywood acting dynasty, has had three knee surgeries in the past two years. He says one knee is still "bugging" him a little bit. But he's determined to participate in Olympic team selection events.

The U.S. freeskiing team will be named just two weeks prior to the Sochi Games based on who's hottest at that point. 

The Opening Ceremony for the Winter Olympics is Feb. 7, 2014

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid