Profile: Torin Yater-Wallace on competing under pressure
As seen in the October 2011 issue of FREESKIER Magazine.
At the tender age of 15, Torin Yater-Wallace won an X Games silver medal (and Euro X bronze). Let me repeat, he’s 15 years old. Most 15-year-olds don’t possess the physical prowess or athletic drive to achieve this. Hell, the government won’t even let him operate motor vehicles for another year.
But despite the publicity he’s received, his new globe-trotting lifestyle and one of the most impressive rookie seasons in years, Torin remains a humble, well-spoken—and hard to get a hold of—kid from Aspen.
Photo left: Shay Williams
Words: Shay Williams
GETTING A HOLD OF YOU IS NOT EASY. YOU’RE NOT MOVING TO SUPER PRO STATUS ALREADY ARE YOU? I guess I’m just an irresponsible 15-year-old who’s always running around and would rather be skateboarding than doing business related things.
YOU’RE THE NEXT IN A LONG LINE OF ASPEN PROS TO MAKE IT. ANY THOUGHTS ON THAT? I think it’s just the best place to live. We’re fortunate enough to live somewhere that has four mountains that are all amazing. Since the X Games are held here, you get to ride the X Games slope and pipe all year. I think being presented with that since I was a kid has built up my skills. I feel so lucky to grow up in a super active place where everyone loves to be outside.
A LOT OF PIPE SKIERS HAVE PROBLEMS GOING BIG. YOU DON’T HAVE THAT PROBLEM AND YOU’RE LIKE 95 POUNDS. I think that’s mostly from learning to ski moguls. A lot of kids will just jump straight to park and skip the basics. I think before you do anything park or pipe, you should probably be on a race or mogul team. That and I spent a lot of days early season in the pipe doing straight airs, getting the feeling back, not doing tricks. I was getting good pumping and transition practice.
YOU SEEM TO PERFORM WHEN IT COUNTS THE MOST AND DO SLIGHTLY LESS WELL IN LOWER STAKES EVENTS. WHY? Grand Prix-wise, that was my first comp of the year and I had nerves. I had never thought of doing a double and never spun an unnatural 900. I just thought, “Oh man, these guys are really good, I have to step my game up.” After the Grand Prix and the first Dew, I trained my ass off and tried to learn a lot of stuff. For the next Dew Tour I was super stoked and ready for it. But I fell on my first run and second run got super snowy and I was going three feet out. The second stop was bad luck. At the third Dew stop I broke my thumb and had surgery so I couldn’t compete. I guess a lot of it was just unfortunate luck.
HOW DOES IT FEEL GOING FROM GATORADE FREE FLOW TO X GAMES PODIUMS AND TEAM SHOOTS? It was amazing, you know? Just the fact of having all these opportunities to go places to ski and take all these trips. That’s what I appreciate the most. I’ve always skied because I love skiing. I love it. But it’s definitely been crazy.
WHAT KIND OF PRESSURE DOES LAST YEAR’S SUCCESS PUT ON THIS COMING SEASON? When you’ve got the expectations to live up to from your prior season, you have more to worry about, which sucks. I hate that. I just try to block that out. I just want to go into next year and think about it like last year. Not get full of myself, I’m not big shit. I’m just the same as everyone else. We’re all competitors and whoever takes it, takes it. Any time I have expectations, I block them out and try to not think about it. I feel like that’s something that few people can compete under. Shaun White, Simon Dumont and even Kevin Rolland are so good at competing under pressure. That’s a really good skill.
DID YOU KNOW THAT THE NAME TORIN MEANS “CHIEF” AND “THUNDER” IN GAELIC? I had no clue.
MAYBE A NEW NICKNAME IN THE CARDS FOR YOU?
Chief? [laughs] I don’t think so. I’m not quite a chief. I’m still the little Native I guess.
HOMETOWN: Aspen, CO
SPONSORS: Armada, Electric, Target, Aspen/Snowmass, Windells
FILMS: Attack of La Niña_ MSP
RESULTS: 1st, World Cup Superpipe, La Plagne, France 2nd, 2011 Winter X Games Superpipe, Aspen/Snowmass, CO 3rd, 2011 Winter X Games Europe Superpipe, Tignes, France 5th, 2010 Winter Dew Tour Superpipe, Breckenridge, CO