A freestyle skier's wrenching journey toward Olympics


Freestyle skier Torin Yater-Wallace has a simple picture in his mind: His family all together in South Korea for the Winter Olympics and watching him compete in the halfpipe.

His journey there has been much more complicated.

The family has been through so much over the years — from dad serving time for a white-collar crime to mom dealing with colon cancer and, the scariest twist of all: Yater-Wallace spent 10 days in a medically induced paralysis state in November 2015 while fighting a life-threatening infection.

There have been broken ribs, moves from house to house in Aspen, Colorado, time the family spent on food stamps, all in the name of advancing a career that Yater-Wallace hoped might end up at the Winter X Games or the Olympics.

“A lot of it sucked and a lot of it was some of the worst things to ever deal with and I couldn’t help but think ‘Why again? Why me? Why another crappy thing? Why another damn, annoyance that comes up?'” said Yater-Wallace , who remains in the hunt after David Wise secured one of the up to four Olympic spots with a victory in a ski halfpipe qualifier Friday. “But I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I’m just so happy to have all my family in good health and back home.”

The 22-year-old Yater-Wallace offered an unflinching window into his travails in a documentary titled “Back to Life .” Written and directed by skier Clayton Vila — and produced by Matthew Brady — the film focuses on Yater-Wallace through his time in a Salt Lake City hospital fighting the illness to coming back months later to win the 2016 Europe Winter X Games gold in Oslo, Norway. It will air Saturday on ABC and streams on Red Bull TV the rest of the month.

“I’m not trying to make anyone shed a tear and feel bad for the things I’ve gone through,” Yater-Wallace said. “I just want people to know there is light is at the end of the tunnel — even if it’s a really, really long tunnel.”

His mom and dad were both avid skiers. He was on skis in the backyard as a toddler and in lessons by 2. Somewhere around third grade, his life changed.

Ronald Wallace ran a business that specialized in collectable wines. Prosecutors said he promised wine futures to his clients but rarely delivered. He was sentenced to five years of probation, two years of home confinement and ordered to pay millions in restitution in February 2007. He ended up serving time in federal prison for various probation violations. He was released in December 2015.

“On and off throughout…



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