Friday, March 16, 2012

Barrymore named to U.S. Freeskiing Halfpipe Team

Sun Valley Gold Team member Tai Barrymore has been named to U.S. Freestyle Pro Halfpipe Team, according to the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.

Barrymore opened the season by winning the U.S. Halfpipe Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colo., and followed up with a silver medal at the Dew Tour at Killington, Vt.

The podium placements earned Tai a coveted spot at the Winter X Games at Aspen, Colo. Unfortunately, it would be his final event for the 2011-12 season, as he suffered season-ending injuries to both knees.

"Tai was going bigger than any other athlete at X Games," said Andy Ware, SVSEF freestyle director. "His average height out of the pipe was 21.6 feet and his max height was 23.4 feet."

During a qualifying run, Barrymore landed too low on his fourth hit, suffering two ACL ligament tears in his knees.

"I only tore my ACLs—everything else in my knees is fine." Barrymore said. "I will be fine."

Since the accident, Barrymore underwent surgery on both knees and is in the process of physical rehabilitation.

Despite the injuries, Barrymore made enough of an impression on the U.S. freeskiing scene to be named to the national team.

"Tai just took one giant step closer to achieving his goal of competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics," Ware said. "The opportunities for Tai just got a lot bigger."

Barrymore will begin classes in May at Westminster College in Salt Lake City and continue to rehab and train in preparation for the 2012-13 season.

"This has been an incredible experience for me," he said. "The support of the whole SVSEF community has helped me take advantage of the opportunities for success this season. Thank you to all of you. This is changing my life."

Barrymore is coached by Ben Verge, SVSEF head park and pipe coach, who also had two other athletes named to the U.S. Pro Halfpipe Team—Brita Sigourney and Devin Logan.

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