McCALL, ID — Jeret Peterson, a three-time Olympian and Silver Medalist in the men’s freestyle skiing event at Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympic Games, has signed on with the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee as 2011-12 spokesperson for the region’s famed Spanish Sweets.
Fittingly, the 49th annual convention of the Idaho-Oregon Fruit & Vegetable Association, held June 9-11 in McCall, ID, served to launch the campaign with the Idaho native. Bearing a “Go Big or Go Home” tagline, posters and ads show the athlete in his freestyle environs – accompanied in one ad by Jumbo, the IEO mascot.
Though digitally created, the freestyle flip is no stretch for Mr. Peterson, who began skiing at age 7, did his first aerial at a summer ski camp at age 11 and was a member of the U.S. Ski Team at age 16.
He is also the inventor of a freestyle feat known as the Hurricane: five twists and three flips executed during the 3.2 seconds he’s airborne after leaving the ski ramp.
Now 29 years old, the athlete recently announced his retirement from the demanding sport and is attending college in Salt Lake City, seeking a business degree. But he told an awards ceremony crowd that he’ll see what the next two years brings.
“I think my days of being upside down are over,” he said at one point, only to add later, “I always get the itch” to compete.
Engaging the crowd, Mr. Peterson related anecdotes from his days of non-stop competition and spoke encouragingly to the youngsters who were attending with their parents.
“Don’t ever give up,” he said of pursuing dreams. He said failing at first made him work harder, and “the harder you work at something, the better you become.”
He spoke of the importance of parental guidance, role models and encouragement.
“I love working with kids and see them achieve things they didn’t know they could do,” Mr. Peterson said.
“The best thing that happened to me was my mom believing in my dream,” he said.
He also said that teammate Eric Bergoust, a Montana freestyle skier who took the Gold Medal at the Japanese Olympics in 1998, was a major influence in his life.
Starting in 1999 Mr. Peterson began amassing medals. That year he took the Bronze in the aerial competition at the U.S. Junior Championships. In 2000 and 2001, he repeated the accomplishment, and Ski Racing magazine named him Junior Freestyle Skier of the Year in 2001.
In 2002 he placed ninth in the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. He took 22nd place in the 2002 World Cup season; sixth place in the 2003 World Championships, eighth place in the 2003 World Cup season; 16th place in the 2004 World Cup season; 12th place in the 2005 World Championship; first place in the 2005 World Cup season; seventh place in the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy; sixth place in the 2006 World Cup season; Gold medal in the 2006 U.S. National Championships; and the Silver in Vancouver.
Today the Boise, ID, native has his own biography on Wikipedia.
Regarding his nickname of “Speedy,” Mr. Peterson said it was given to him at his first summer camp, where he trained for ski jumps by launching off a ramp into a swimming pool. Wearing a checkered life vest and a racing helmet, the youngster resembled the cartoon character “Speed Racer.” He’s been known as Speedy for so long that he said some friends don’t know his real name.
The moniker is being put to good marketing use for IEOOC in a video titled “Cooking with Speedy” produced by Boise-based Tri-Digital Group. Wielding a chef’s knife and aided by the computer wizardry of TDG, Speedy Peterson peels and chops several pounds of onions in a matter of seconds, then cooks them and stacks them on a “Hurricane” burger.
And as part of the Speedy – Spanish Sweet Onion Campaign, the committee is launching a second web site in addition to bigonions.com. Usaonions.com is specifically designed for the new campaign and will feature the cooking video as well as weekly on-line drawings for special prizes. The site will also handle requests for new Speedy p-o-s material.
“I want to promote healthy eating and an active lifestyle,” he said. “And I want people to visit me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.”