July 26th, 2011
10:39 PM ET

U.S. skier Jeret Peterson shot himself to death, police say

Aerial skier and Olympic silver medalist Jeret "Speedy" Peterson died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, a spokesman for the Utah Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake said.

Police responded to a 911 call Monday night from Peterson, who said he was going to commit suicide and gave them his location in Lambs Canyon, Lt. Justin Hoyal said.

He was already dead by the time officers arrived at 11:30 p.m. ET, Hoyal said.

"This is a sad day for Boise and for all of us who admired Speedy Peterson's accomplishments, both on the slopes and in his life," said, Boise Mayor Mayor David H. Bieter, who presented Peterson with the Key to the City last year after he medaled in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

"The hundreds of kids who came to City Hall to shake Speedy's hand after he medaled in Vancouver last year are a living testament to his power to inspire and motivate. It is truly tragic that, in the end, there was one hill he wasn't able to conquer. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

Peterson won a silver medal in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games for freestyle skiing after pulling off his signature move, the Hurricane.

Peterson picked up the nickname "Speedy" at a summer ski camp in Lake Placid, New York, in the mid-1990s because coaches thought he resembled the cartoon character "Speed Racer" with a big helmet, according to the United States Ski and Snowboard Association website. He won the 1999 U.S. Junior Championship and took bronze at two straight World Junior Championships in 2000 and 2001.

His life was not without tragedy. He reportedly considered suicide after losing $550,000 in blackjack earnings, according to The New York Times. His half-sister died in a drunken driving accident when he was 5. A friend committed suicide at his house, in front of him.

"The personal challenges Speedy has battled are familiar to all of us, and on behalf of the U.S. Olympic Committee, I'd like to offer my sympathy to Speedy's family and friends. Today is a sad day," U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement.

"I know Speedy's friends and family were incredibly proud of his effort in Vancouver, and his achievements were an inspiration to people all over the world."

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Filed under: Sports • Utah
soundoff (284 Responses)
  1. Stache

    Well, that just sucks.
    My sympathy to his family.

    July 26, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • john percer

      the poor guy's life has been going downhill...........

      July 27, 2011 at 6:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. Tumblewind

    Tragedy. Success is so desired, and yet it can totally screw with the mind. Sympathy to all who loved him.

    July 26, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Chester C

    Yeah, I'm not a fan of the nickname Speedy either buddy. RIP.

    July 26, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • RTJ

      ..and I'm sure he's not particularly found of the nickname "buddy"

      July 26, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • AK

      I can think of a "good" nickname that starts with Chester the...

      July 26, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jay

    Nice editing job..... "after pulling his off his signature move, the Hurricane."

    July 26, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. FedUp

    So very sad! Prayers for his family.

    July 26, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    I is terrifyingly sad to see young stars' destruction of their lives because of the immense pressure of adjusting to their special powers and celebrity.
    The same drives that fuel their full development of great talent put them out of control of their lives, and usually there is nobody who understands how different their lives are from those of less accomplished and celebrated humans.

    July 26, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Rachel

    Why? Why? Why?

    July 26, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Camarones

      Like "no, no, no", you mean?

      July 27, 2011 at 3:32 am | Report abuse |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    TYPO:
    "It is," not "I is."

    July 26, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. jnyc

    The effort that is expended to be an overachiever can be costly. People keep telling you that you have to give 300% to have that great achievement but sooner or later you have to pay yourself back for that extra 200% that you took out of yourself. It's a deeper hole than you think...

    July 26, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. stillin

    Again, talented, great people dying, killing themselves ,either through drugs and alcohal, or by suicide...certainly fame and pressure has it's costs...it's such a loss and so sad. Discussions on this could be addressed in universities, the pressure begins whether it's music, or sports, or Hollywood, and then the people just can't take it. Certainly this needs to be addressed.

    July 26, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Researcher

    What a tragedy. Aerial skiers often have extreme concussions due to falling backwards while landing and hitting their heads. I wonder if he also suffered from post-concussion syndrome like so many of the other athletes who have committed suicide in hockey and football.

    July 26, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • nettkitten

      Hmmm...an interesting point. I hope an autopsy is performed to answer this question. If so, both the sport and the technology protecting athletes needs to step up to better support the health and safety of participants. RIP and peace, love and healing to the friends and family.

      July 26, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jazzzzzzzz

    @JIF ...My first thought to your post was, It would be like a cross between a lion in a cage and a beautiful women who's never heard the word NO.
    My condolences to the friends and family.

    July 26, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. On with the good news of the real world

    Julian Assange wins Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism

    http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=46505

    July 26, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ stillin:
    The problem with addressing this syndrome is that only the stars themselves have experienced these forces.
    The job of "helping" these great achievers usually goes to mental-health professionals who have little identification with such drives, discipline, and power.
    Stars are not just like everybody else, and they fail when they try to be "normal."

    July 26, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Carlos St.

    So young, so sad...
    Thank you for giving us happiness on those Olympic games!
    RIP

    July 26, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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