THE OPTION | An Interview with Torin Yater Wallace

The young free-skiing phenom is currently in the middle of Olympic trials and will be competing in the Winter X Games in late January.

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Torin Yater Wallace is a singularly gifted skier. This isn't hyperbole designed to manufacture interest. It's an objective fact. When he was 14, an age when most of us are starting our freshman year of high school, Wallace was beginning his professional free-skiing career. For those of you who don't know, this is free-skiing:

Wallace grew up in Aspen, Colorado and learned to ski right around the time he learned how to walk. It became apparent that he was destined for X Games glory when he began winning local and regional competitions at just ten-years-old. His journey to the top has not been without adversity however. His early life was marked by financial hardship and his early career was jeopardized when his father's business went under and landed him (Wallace's father) in jail. When Wallace's career took off, he was crashing on friends' couches. When he won the USASA Nationals at 14-years-old, Wallace was in such dire straits, that the prize money essentially became a rent check.

Eventually though, his skiing skills began to pay dividends and he was able to advance to the top of his sport, earning a trip to the 2014 Winter Olympics. Before his trip to Sochi however, Wallace's mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. She luckily made a full recovery and was able to make it out to watch him, but Wallace suffered a collapsed lung during one of the selection events and was barely able to compete. As if all this weren't enough to contend with, Wallace was hospitalized with a deadly liver infection two years ago and was placed in a medically induced coma, eventually walking down a lengthy and extremely arduous road to recovery. He lost over 20 pounds and it took him months to start skiing again, but he's back now and better than ever.

This year, he's headed back to Aspen to compete for X Games gold in his hometown. And while he still has a few more Olympic trials to compete in, his chances look good with regard to appearing at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. I gave Wallace a call at his Breckenridge training facility to talk to the young skier about training, music, staying grounded, and overcoming adversity in this Pop Dust extended interview.

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