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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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 Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid