One year ago, 15-year-old Torin Yater-Wallace was a relative complete-unknown within the ski industry. After winning the Gatorade Free Flow Tour finals last spring, Torin earned himself a trip to the 2011 Winter Dew Tour. All eyes were on the young man, as they wondered how the newcomer would perform on the big stage.
Turns out, really damn well. Torin ended up 5th at Breckenridge in December. He blew away onlookers with his fluid style and his massive amplitude. For weeks, all the buzz around the ski community was, "Can you believe this kid is only 15?" Well, believe it. Torin is the real-deal, and Target agrees.
We're proud to break the news that Torin has officially become the latest member of the Target family. He joins Simon Dumont as the only other freeskier to represent the brand.
"Torin's season last year was great, especially with his win at the Gatorade Free Flow Tour," says Devin O'Brien, Team Manager at Target. "That's when Torin really came onto our radar, and we ended up keeping him around and spent this winter getting to know him and his family. He has a great personality, his skiing speaks for itself, and Simon is excited as well – so he's a great fit for us.
Troy (Michels, Target's Head of Lifestyle Marketing) had the opportunity to ski with him over the holidays, and I've been riding with him here in Aspen. The fact that he and Simon can work together is awesome, building a program around them is going to be great."
"He's lived up to the expectations this year with his Dew Tour results," Devin continues, "and I know he's excited to show what he's capable of doing on the Slopestyle side as well."
Mr. Dumont also took a break from his X Games practice today to share a few words about Torin, and this exciting news.
"I basically just know him from the events we've been at together,” says Simon. "From what I've seen, he's represented himself very well. He deals with the pressure of contests really well and doesn't show any frustration. So I like to see that he's humble. I know he's hungry, and would like to win, and he's of course very talented as a skier, so I'm stoked."
"The biggest thing for our team, and really what we're trying to do is just to welcome him to the team and show him the right path," Simon continues. ". Torin seems like an awesome fit for Target, and we hope to turn him into one of the most dominant athletes on the circuit."
Given Torin's natural abilities, and knowing he'll have a strong support system behind him, you'd better get your sunglasses on because this kid's future is extremely bright.
We caught up with Torin this morning on the phone to get the low-down on his exciting new partnership.
Where are you from and when did you start skiing?
I'm from Basalt, CO, and I started skiing when I was one and a half. My parents got me on the program pretty early.
Who are your current sponsors?
Well, Target [laughs], Armada Skis and Outerwear, Aspen/Snowmass, Smith Optics and Helmets, and Windells Ski and Snowboard Camp.
You're only 15 and you're already competing with the top guys. How stoked are you right now?
Do you have a coach? Have you been on a team? How do you progress so quickly?
Growing up in Aspen, I started ski school as a youngster, like Powder Pandas and all that stuff, and then I got pretty anxious, and I bugged my mom to get me into a higher group because I wanted to do tricks. Finally, when I was seven, I joined the Aspen Valley Ski Club on the freestyle team, and I started doing moguls, and I did my first 540 that year. I skied moguls from age 7-12, and ever since then it's just been park and pipe.
When did you land your first big competition result?
My first big comp result, well, I mean for my level, when I was 7, I got 2nd at a mogul competition. But as for "big" results, probably winning the Gatorade Free Flow Tour, or getting 2nd at the Salomon Jib Academy Finals.
What skiers do you look up to?
Growing up I definitely looked up to Candide Thovex. I thought he was the sickest skier ever and he had such good style. Also Tanner Hall and Simon Dumont. They're so ridiculously good at skiing, I couldn't even comprehend how crazy their tricks were.
I still look up to all three of those guys as skiers, and nowadays I also like Kevin Rolland. He works so hard and he's so talented. I also look up to Jen Hudak. No other girl in the sport works as hard as she does, she trains so hard, it's crazy.
So Target?! How'd it all go down?
Well, I had met Troy (Michels) in Aspen, and we took a few laps together. I knew that Troy is real good friends with Chris O'Connell, who I'm close with, and they'd been looking at me for a while I guess. They approached me because I ended up getting to know Troy pretty well, and he liked me, and it all worked out from there. It's crazy how fast it all happened. If you had told me two months ago that I was going to be a Target athlete, I wouldn't have had any idea about this, and I would have said no way.
You're joining the likes of Simon Dumont and Shaun White as the only winter-sport athletes representing Target. How does that make you feel?
Just being sponsored by Target, I feel so incredibly fortunate. I can't even tell you how great they are as a company to work with. It's cool to be a part of their team, everyone is so close, it's like a family. Everyone has a lot of input, so that's awesome. I really can't even explain it, it's just an amazing opportunity and I'm very thankful.
What are your thoughts going into your first Winter X Games this week?
My thoughts going into X this week are just to ski as well as I can, and to have fun. I know I'm only 15, so I suppose there will be more X Games for me to come, so with this being the first one, I want to just have absolutely as much fun as I can. I have no expectations. It'd obviously be great to make finals, but just being here with all the pros is crazy, and I'm just appreciating it and having fun right now.
P: Alli Sports
Xbox or Playstation?
Xbox for sure. I don't play a lot of video games, but I actually get to go with the Target guys this week and get some stuff. I'd say Skate 3 is my favorite game.
Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga?
Taylor Swift, for sure. I dig Taylor. I listen to her music sometimes before my runs [laughs], and I actually got a T-Swift poster for Christmas this year.
I understand you're in school full time. Is that hard to deal with right now?
Yup, I am a full time student at Aspen High School. I take two online classes though, because I'm not there most of the time. It's a struggle, for sure. I don't go to ski academy, so Aspen tries to work as well as they can with me, but I definitely miss a lot of school, and I never get work done on ski trips. Between e-mails, and working with sponsors, and waxing my skis, I don't have time for homework. So it's hard, because I know the stuff, but I never get the work done. It's definitely the most stressful thing in my life right now, trying to balance it all out.
What's your hardest subject in school?
I kind of suck at writing, I just don't have a lot of motivation for that.
Any shout outs?
I want to thank Ilana Chase, she's been the best coach ever, and she really supports me. Also, all my sponsors, my girlfriend Rhyan, my friends Alex and Mikey who I shoot some webisodes with called ATM, (Alex, Torin, Mikey), and of course, my family.
Anything else you want people to know about you?
I'm not a pipe jockey; I don't' like that image. I just haven't made it into many slope comps this year. But I think slope is sick, and I'll be doing it for sure.