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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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 Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More