Colorado skier moves to Utah to pursue Olympic dream

The following is an excerpt from an article published at

Walter Wood’s life is full of transition.

At age 13, he switched from moguls to free-ride skiing. At 17, he graduated high school a year early. Now 18, he has made Utah his home to train at a higher level in a sport that has yet to receive Olympic status.

Wood’s Olympic dreams began as a 3-year-old following his ski patroller parents. The professional halfpipe skier from Aspen, Colo., said he wants to compete in what he hopes will be his sport’s inaugural Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“I want to bring home a gold [medal] from the 2014 Olympics,” Wood said. “If halfpipe gets in, it’ll actually be possible.”

At the 47th International Ski Congress in Turkey in May, the FIS unanimously decided to send a request to the International Olympic Committee to add halfpipe skiing as an Olympic sport for 2014. The United States was one of several nations to support sending a proposal to the IOC, said Tom Kelly, vice president of communications for the United States Ski and Snowboard Association.

“We were successful in getting that proposal passed [in Turkey],” Kelly said. “We anticipate that [IOC] vote sometime next year. We’re hopeful.”

In anticipation of his sport’s Olympic debut, Wood is practicing more difficult techniques and tricks. Last year, he became the first athlete to land a 1620. He placed second at the U.S. National Championships in 2009 and 2010 and first at the 2010 World Skiing Invitational. His skiing has progressed from training at Utah Olympic Park and the USSA Center of Excellence in Park City. Wood said he is focused on the 2011 FIS Freestyle World Championships in February at Deer Valley, where he aims to improve upon his ninth-place finish from 2009.

“Moving out here, I was really able to approach next season with just being a lot stronger,” he said. “I’m here putting my muscles to the test. Training in Utah helps with the mind-set that it’s going to be right next door [next year].”

Wood is no stranger to Utah, having trained in both the Beehive State and New Zealand the past four summers. This year, his days have become fuller, with morning classes at the University of Utah and afternoon training in Park City.

Busy schedules have been part of Wood’s routine since he started traveling with his team at age 15. He credits his teammates and coach Jen Hudak as his biggest inspirations.

Click here to read the entire article.


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