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'Speedy' back for personal redemption

When freestyle aerialist Jeret "Speedy" Peterson got sent home in disgrace from the 2006 Winter Games after getting into a bar fight, it might have been one of the best things that ever happened to him. "It was horrible," Peterson recalled Wednesday night, but the humiliation helped him give up alcohol, overcome his depression and confront festering problems.

Nowadays, Peterson said, he doesn't even think about drinking or partying. He has, he said, matured.

"I have had an insane amount of things happen to me," he said. "I've been through a crazy whirlwind life. I'm only 28 years old and I've gone through enough drama and turmoil to fill three lifetimes."

Peterson revealed in 2003 that he was a sexual abuse victim, and he witnessed the suicide of a friend shortly before the 2006 Games. "I definitely had a lot of things going on in my personal life affecting me," Peterson said. "I really was just hanging on."
Peterson said he received reams of hate mail after the Games from people informing him of how significantly he had let down his country. The response, and his own reflection, affected him profoundly.

Even so, he said, he is seeking personal redemption at these Games, nothing more.
"I've done a lot of things in my past that I regret, and it's OK," he said. "The biggest thing to me is I've realized I love doing what I do. I love being upside down, 50 feet in the air, upside down and backwards. That's heaven on earth for me right there."

He said he plans to pull out "the Hurricane" again if conditions are right, despite the fact the difficult trick involves three flips and five twists. At the Turin Olympics, Peterson failed to land the Hurricane and dropped out of medal contention into seventh place.

"I want to be able to do that trick," he said. "I want to be prepared to throw it."

By Amy Shipley  |  February 11, 2010; 12:08 AM ET
Categories:  Freestyle Skiing  
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