U.S. Ski Team athletes past and present, as well as speedskaters and snowboarders, came together to celebrate Jeret "Speedy" Peterson at the second annual Hurricane for Hope. (Photo: Steven Kornreich)
PARK CITY, UT (August 26) - U.S. Ski Team athletes past and present came together at the second annual Hurricane for Hope fundraiser to honor 2010 Olympic freestyle aerials silver medalist Jeret “Speedy” Peterson. The event, hosted by The Speedy Foundation and the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, raised funds for both mental health issues and youth sports initiatives.
The Speedy Foundation was created to help eliminate the stigma of mental illness by increasing awareness, enabling discussions and creating a safe environment. The Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation works to increase youth involvement in winter sports. The two organizations joined forces for the evening’s events, which included a silent auction and Flying Ace All-Stars big air show.
“We’re making sure to carry on his legacy and spread his message. He was very, very passionate about talking about mental health and mental wellness,” Emily Cook, a two-time Olympian and former teammate of Peterson’s, said, “It was very important to him that all of us come together and support each other and just talk.”
And come together they did. Dozens of current and former U.S. Ski Team athletes came to Park City for the event, reuniting with teammates they hadn’t seen in years. Among the alumni athletes at the event were 1998 Olympic Champion Nikki Stone, 2009 World Champion Ryan St. Onge and two-time Olympic medalist Shannon Bahrke Happe.
“I think when you lose somebody like that, you realize how many good people are in your life and you need to celebrate those people,” Happe said, “There are so many people that loved him and tonight brings everyone together to talk about the good times and the amazing things he did.”
While the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team was well represented at the event, it wasn’t just aerialists coming out to support the cause. The missions of both the Speedy Foundation and the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation have resounded strongly among the athletes of a variety of sports. Speedskating Olympic Champion Derek Parra, snowboarder Graham Watanabe and cross country World Champion Kikkan Randall were all on hand, mingling with the event’s attendees and sharing their experiences with Peterson.
“I had the pleasure of meeting Speedy at the Olympic Games and he was always such a positive spirit,” Randall said, “It’s great to see the sports community coming together to celebrate a great life and highlight such an important issue—getting kids involved in sports and supporting them through the many challenges they may experience.”
Later in the evening, the Flying Ace All-Stars—a group Peterson was once a part of—performed for a large crowd. The big air show included trampoline stunts, fireworks and an impressive array of jumps. For Peterson’s friends and former teammates, the performance was the perfect conclusion to the evening.
“Speedy was a wild man. He was never afraid to get up there and do his big tricks,” Peterson’s 2010 Olympic teammate Scotty Bahrke said, “We’re all here putting on a big show, doing some big jumps and remembering our friend.”
“It’s been truly an honor for me to be part of something that is paying forward who Speedy was and how he lived his life,” Jana Lindsey, Peterson’s former teammate and current secretary for The Speedy Foundation, “He was always giving to other people and always really supportive of his teammates, so it’s fun see all of these people out here remembering Speedy, what he stood for and the champion that he was.”