Olympic silver medalist Jeret “Speedy” Peterson, a freestyle skier famous for his “Hurricane” move, was found dead in a Utah canyon late Monday night in an apparent suicide.
Peterson, 29, who had a history of depression and alcohol abuse, called 911 to tell police where he was before shooting himself in Lambs Canyon between Salt Lake City and Park City, the AP reports. Police found a suicide note near his car but declined to disclose what it said.
Last Friday Peterson had been arrested in Idaho for speeding and DUI, the AP reports. Police say they clocked him going three times the posted speed limit. It wasn’t his first run-in with the law. In 2005, he was charged with burglary and stealing weapons. In 2006 he was kicked out of the Turin Olympics after a drunken public brawl with a friend. And in 2009 he was cited for public urination in Boise.
A three-time Olympian who competed in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics, Peterson was known for “the Hurricane,” his signature aerial jump comprised of three somersaults and five twists. It was a jump so risky no one else would attempt it – a jump that earned him a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
“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 with tears streaming down his face after his win. “There's light at the end of the tunnel and mine was silver and I love it.”
Peterson got the nickname “Speedy” because of the big helmet he wore that made him look like the Speed Racer cartoon character. He was remembered fondly Tuesday by those who knew him.
"Today is a sad day in our sport," Bill Marolt, the CEO of the U.S. ski team, said in a statement. "Jeret 'Speedy' Peterson was a great champion who will be missed and remembered as a positive, innovative force on not only his sport of freestyle aerials but on the entire U.S. Freestyle Ski Team family and everyone he touched."