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Peterson's spirit lives on in men's aerials

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 16, 2014 at 4:29 pm •  Published: February 16, 2014

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Emily Cook still carries a picture of longtime U.S. aerials teammate Jeret "Speedy" Peterson in her pocket. Nearly three years after the charismatic but troubled skier's suicide, Peterson's pioneering spirit looms over his sport.

"He'll never be forgotten," Cook said.

It would be nearly impossible.

From his trademark "Hurricane" trick — three flips and five twists packed into a couple of harrowing seconds of flight — to his leading-man looks, Peterson was a guiding light in a discipline that often struggles to separate itself from the growing crowd of extreme sports in the Olympic program.

"To see someone buck the system and mix it up like that did a lot for the sport," said Mike Hanley, a friend of Peterson's and a former aerialist.

Peterson's crowning achievement came in Vancouver four years ago, when he landed the Hurricane in the finals to earn a silver medal. His ongoing battle with depression cost him his life, but versions of the jump he pioneered have now become more commonplace.

Not that everyone is on board. Heading into Monday's competition, Australian aerialist David Morris, who finished 13th in Vancouver, has a version of the three-flip, five-twister in his back pocket if he needs it. He'd just rather not need it. Morris called the trick "terrifying."

"If it is necessary I can do it, but I hope it is not," he said.

If anyone can land it cleanly on the slush at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, he'll likely find himself on the medal stand. Here's a look at five jumpers who could see their flag soar above all others when it's said and done.

ALEXEI GRISHIN: Hard to go against a guy who has his face on a stamp. Grishin won the first-ever Winter Games gold for Belarus when he triumphed in Vancouver to add to the bronze he captured in Turin in 2006. The 34-year-old took some extended time off after the last Vancouver Games but is rounding into form. He finished third at the final Olympic tuneup event last month.

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