Jeret Peterson: A life of highs and lows

A tile bearing Speedy's name dedicated in 1997 for his induction into the Greater Boise Youth Hall of Fame was adorned with a flower Tuesday evening.

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by Carolyn Holly & Don Day

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBCarolyn

KTVB.COM

Posted on July 26, 2011 at 8:59 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 12 at 9:56 AM

BOISE -- Jeret “Speedy” Peterson didn't hesitate to share his life’s story.

Whether it was on the ski slopes or on the streets, Speedy's was a life filled with many ups and downs.
 
KTVB first met Peterson on the slopes of Bogus Basin in 1996.
  
By chance, former feature reporter John Miller pointed his camera to the skies -- and caught magic in the air.

Making flips and twists for the camera lens the first time, Peterson excitedly told Miller where he was from.

“I’m from here in Boise!”

As the youngest member on the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team for inverted aerials, Jeret was quickly getting a nickname: Speedy.

“He showed up with a black and white checked outfit and a black and white helmet, like Speed Racer.”

From then on, Jeret “Speedy” Peterson never slowed down.

He competed in three Olympics. The first, the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. He was pretty much an unknown, but not for long. Out of nowhere, the hometown kid finished in the top 10.

Next, onto to the games in Torino, Italy. By now, Speedy was a favorite.

“I have a great shot at winning the gold medal,” he said. “And that's what I've always wanted to do in life.”

In his quest, he did what no one had done before and pulled out his patented move. He called it "the Hurricane".

Mark Johnson called the action for TV viewers back in Idaho.

“He had nailed it in practice just hours earlier and he would nail it again; this time it came in Olympic competition. Five twists, three flips, perfect, but the landing was not. The hand touched the ground and it meant a deduction.”

Speedy would fail to win a medal, and that touched off what soon became an international incident. Hours later Speedy got in a much publicized drunken brawl outside an Italian bar. A news agency dubbed it 'drunken antics between friends.'

The U.S. Olympic Committee asked Speedy to leave the games.

Two months later, we caught up with him - now hanging drywall in Park City, Utah.

“When we’re not putting on the ski boots we're putting on the tool belt,” he said.

Speedy was in hiding.

“I was getting 50 emails a day from people saying, ‘you know, (you’re) a worthless human being.’ That kinda blew me away,” he said. “It disheartened my whole Olympic experience.”

But Speedy didn't give in.  He sought help through counseling.

"I decided to go to counseling after everything that happened in Italy and figure some things out,” he said. “Part of being a role model is making mistakes and being able to live up to what you have done. ‘Hey look, I'm sorry I made a mistake.’”

As he continued to work on his Olympic dream, another bump in the road: bankruptcy.

In it, he lost his car, but not his desire for an Olympic medal.

Speedy was headed to Vancouver, and his third time in the Olympic spotlight.

This time, he was the media darling. The networks loved his comeback story.
He was on the Today Show, Colbert Report, and even the Canadian Broadcast Channels.

Speedy said he was finally in a place he liked, free of his mistakes and his problems.

“I'm in a place in my life where I am happy,” he said. “I've got good karma now and I'm going to rock it all the way ‘til I can."

And so he did.  On February 25th, 2010, Jeret “Speedy” Peterson finally beat his demons and his competitors.

He landed the Hurricane. Speedy was now a silver medalist.

“I wrote on a piece of paper ‘I can land the Hurricane.’ I crossed out ‘can’ and wrote ‘will,’ and I did it.”

“This medal represents me overcoming everything,” he said. “It’s my gift to myself and I'm extremely happy with the way things are turning out in my life.”

He returned home a hero, with a massive celebration in the City of Boise for their newest silver medalist.

With that life of ups and downs, he was always searching for a silver lining.

"There is good that comes from everything and you just have to find it."

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