Aspen’s Yater-Wallace selected to U.S. Olympic team
PARK CITY, Utah — Five weeks after breaking his ribs during training for an Olympic qualifier, halfpipe skier Torin Yater-Wallace, of Aspen, received a spot on the U.S. team for the Sochi Winter Games in Russia.
Yater-Wallace, a popular favorite at Winter X Games in Aspen, was given one of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s discretionary picks Tuesday despite not competing in any of the qualifying contests.
He has won two silvers and a bronze at the Winter X Games. And he’s still a teenager.
Also added were Annalisa Drew (halfpipe), Joss Christensen (men’s slopestyle), Julia Krass and 15-year-old Maggie Voisin (women’s slopestyle).
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John Teller earned a skicross spot by winning a World Cup spot last week.
Teller will be coached by Aspen’s Casey Puckett, a skicross veteran, at the Winter Olympics.
Simon Dumont, one of the most decorated veterans in the halfpipe, was left off the team. He injured his knee during practice for a qualifying event Friday.
In other Olympic news, Shaun White officially will get a chance at a rare three-peat — and then some — when the Winter Games begin next month in Russia.
White was named to the U.S. Olympic team in his signature event, earning one of the three automatic spots on the men’s team by winning Sunday’s final qualifier. White posted a score of 96.6 to edge a resurgent Danny Davis for his second victory in three days to cap a busy week.
The 27-year-old overcame an ugly crash during a slopestyle event Thursday to bounce back and clinch a spot on the inaugural slopestyle team. He was nearly flawless during the last two halfpipe events. As he did Friday, White nailed a frontside double-cork 1440 on Sunday, the hardest trick currently being done in competition.
Now it’s on to Sochi with a chance for White to double his career medal count, an ambitious decision and a coup of sorts for NBC, which will have two opportunities to showcase White during an Olympics searching for American star power now that alpine skier Lindsey Vonn is sidelined with a knee injury.
White also announced Tuesday that he will compete in the Aspen Winter X Games this week.
“This has been the craziest journey to get here from doing slope and pipe and just like the process I’m going through,” White said. “It’s a tough thing. I love that about this time around — it’s not the same. It stays exciting. If it was just halfpipe, maybe I would have procrastinated (in preparation).”
White will be joined by 2010 Olympian Greg Bretz and newcomers Davis and Taylor Gold.
Davis was poised to head to Vancouver four years ago and even beat White in a pre-Olympic event only to have his pelvis crushed in an all-terrain vehicle accident a few weeks before the Games.
Barring a setback, Davis may be White’s toughest competition in Sochi. The 25-year-old won a qualifying event that White sat out early Friday and put together an ambitious run Sunday, falling just 1.6 points short of catching White’s spectacular set.
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Wayne Hall took a job as an air traffic controller at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in 2003 thinking he would stay for a short time. Instead he stayed for nearly 17 years and was promoted up to the position of air traffic manager. He reflected on the experience upon retirement.