PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) – If the conditions are right, American freestyle skier Mac Bohonnon will pay tribute to one of his sport’s most fascinating and beloved characters. And if that goes well, he might find himself with an Olympic medal hanging around his neck, too.
Bohonnon has been working on the “Hurricane” – the same trick the late Jeret “Speedy” Peterson landed eight years ago to win his silver medal in aerials. To this day, Peterson is the only person to put down the jump in a competition. If Bohonnon makes it to the medal round Sunday, he hopes to become the second.
“Obviously, it’s got a little something extra to it,” Bohonnon said. “It’s a scary trick. And Speedy came out and did this all the time, like it was nothing.”
In aerials, there are several variations of three flips with five twists – a combination that will likely win Sunday night’s final. What makes the Hurricane special is that three of the twists are packed into the middle flip, forcing Bohonnon to pull his hands next to his chest and create massive torque to whip himself around at what feels like hurricane speed. Just as quickly, he must slow himself down for the last flip, and gather himself together in time to stick the landing.
It’s arguably the toughest 3 seconds in aerials – an all-or-nothing roll of the dice that, to this point, only Peterson was willing to try.
His performance at the Vancouver Olympics was a physical and emotional triumph for the troubled skier, who had lived a life of addiction and abuse and had appeared to have come out of it OK.
“I know that a lot of people go through a lot of things in their life, and I just want them to realize they can overcome anything,” Peterson said on his silver-medal-winning night . “There’s light at the end of the tunnel and mine was silver and I love it.”
But Peterson took his own life 17 months after that victory, and memories of him still linger in a sport that is full of measured risk-takers but short on those willing to push the envelope.
“Everyone’s unbelievably calculated in this sport,” Bohonnon said. “Speedy was ‘Go big or go home.’ If he didn’t have to do that trick, sometimes he’d do it anyway. It’s a really defining factor in your mindset to approaching that trick.”
Things will have to break just right for Bohonnon to get the opportunity to throw the Hurricane.
If he makes it through qualifying Saturday, there are three rounds of finals Sunday. Bohonnon would have to advance through the first two rounds to the six-man medal round, which is where everyone pulls out their biggest jumps.
“If he makes it, that jump is certainly in his cart,” U.S. coach Todd Ossian said.
As long as the weather cooperates, Bohonnon says he won’t hold back.
“I want to do is a trick that’s never won the Olympics before,” Bohonnon said.
Speedy couldn’t have said it any better himself.