Goodbye Jeret Peterson: Former Olympian Teammate Chris Klug ‘Sad to Learn of This Tragedy’

By Chris Klug,

July 27, 2011

Olympic skier Jeret Peterson was found dead after battling alcohol and depression; teammates and friends remember the charismatic daredevil and the contributions he made to skiing

Jeret “Speedy” Peterson took the Vancouver Olympics by storm in 2010 when he showcased his signature skiing move, “The Hurricane,” capturing the silver medal. Peterson called that day the “best day of his life.” Peterson was sadly battling some demons that ultimately led to the end of his life.

Peterson was found dead Monday night in a remote canyon in Utah near Salt Lake City. Just after calling 911, the 29-year-old Olympic skier shot himself. Tragically, Peterson’s death comes after his battle with alcohol and depression, suicidal thoughts, and tragedies within his own family and circle of friends. He said he had quit drinking last year in an effort to return to skiing and “be the person I know I can be.” This “Daredevil” will be remembered by friends and fellow athletes as someone who wasn’t afraid to take chances. His “Helicopter” move was a five-twist and three-flip aerial maneuver that threw him 50 feet into the air.

“We were teammates in Vancouver and friends,” Olympic snowboarder Chris Klug told genConnect. “His accomplishments in Vancouver and throughout his career made all of us proud. I’m sad to learn of this tragedy. My prayers and thoughts go out to his family.”

Other friends and fellow athletes remembered him and the positive energy he exuded in his field.

“Today is a sad day for skiing. Jeret ‘Speedy’ Peterson was a great champion who will be missed and remembered as a positive, innovative force on not only his sport of freestyle aerials, but on the entire U.S. Freestyle Ski Team family and everyone he touched,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Bill Marolt.

“Speedy was an amazing athlete,” added teammate Emily Cook. “I will always remember jumping alongside him as he pushed the sport, himself and his teammates to be the best. In addition to being the incredible athlete that we all knew, Speedy was a true friend. His loyalty and commitment to each of his teammates was unwavering and he will be missed by all who knew and loved him.”

Some of Jeret’s many accomplishments included:

-Named the Ski Racing Magazine 2001 Freestyle Junior of the Year.
-A member of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team for 11 years, and was one of the most accomplished freestyle aerialists in U.S. history; he captured 15 World Cup podiums and seven victories in six years.
-Nickname “Speedy” was given to him since, as a young boy, he kept cutting in line to get more jumps into the splash pool. Because of his big helmet, coaches decided he looked like the cartoon character Speed Racer.
-Won the 1999 U.S. Junior Championship title, collected aerials bronze at the 2000 and 2001 Junior Worlds Championships, captured the 2005 World Cup title and was a member of three Olympic and four World Championship Teams.
-Was a full-time business student at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Our thoughts go out to the friends and family of Jeret Peterson. His contributions to skiing were invaluable, and his character and charisma left an impression on all who met him.

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