After ditching a fledgling motocross racing career at the age of 16, Wing Tai Barrymore surprised everyone with a win at the U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe event at Copper Mountain, Colo., in 2011. In 2012, he took second in the pipe at a Dew Tour event and earned his first X Games invite, but he was sidelined with a knee injury for much of 2013. After recovering from a recent knee surgery, the Sun Valley-based skier says he's now ready for the winter ahead. Barrymore was recently named to the U.S. Freeskiing Halfpipe Pro Team. XGames.com caught up with Barrymore at Copper Mountain, where he's training for this week's Dew Tour.
It's almost game time. How are you feeling?
I'm feeling good. I had a knee surgery in May and I'm just getting back on snow now, so it's been interesting. It's been fun getting back and seeing all my friends from different countries that are coming into town. I'm stoked to be back catching up with my friends, for sure.
This is your second year with the U.S. Freeskiing team. What does that support mean for you, particularly heading into an Olympic year?
It really means the world, to be hanging out with the best. This year will go down in history and just to be a part of that is super cool. The pressure's definitely on. Just on the U.S. side you've got Simon Dumont, David Wise, Torin Yater-Wallace, Duncan Adams, Gus Kenworthy, all those guys, and they're all big competition. They're all just as hungry.
And outside of the U.S., what do you make of the level of international competition heading into the Olympic year?
It's very stacked. You've got France, with Kevin Rolland, who's a multiple X Games gold medalist. From New Zealand you've got the Wells brothers, Jossi and Byron -- they're skiing awesome, always -- and then another huge country is Canada: Mike Riddle, Justin Dorey, Matt Margetts, Noah Bowman, all those guys are up there too and their level of progression is incredible. It's going to be an exciting year.
Your grandfather was legendary ski filmmaker Dick Barrymore. For some people that 2011 Grand Prix win was a big surprise, but for people who know about your background it was more like, 'It's about time.'
I grew up in Sun Valley, Idaho, and we have a great ski resort there. My parents put me on skis since I was about two or three years old. It's definitely been a huge part of my life for literally as long as I can remember. Seeing my grandfather's movies and my dad in those movies is part of what I grew up on and has been really cool for sure.
You're also related to Ted Shred, the Shred Baron?
Yes, that's my father. His name is Blake, but to lot of people in town around Sun Valley and to a lot of old school snowboarders, he'll be forever known as Ted Shred. The Shred Baron strikes again.
Your dad and grandfather were some of the original advocates of 'hotdogging' freestyle skiing. Was there pressure to ski competitively?
The funny thing is I was a competition motocross racer growing up and didn't really get into competitive freeskiing until I stopped doing that in my junior year of high school. Freestyle skiing was kind of my way out. My dad is such a fan of watching X Games every year -- he loves it so much -- so he was psyched when I started. I joined the Sun Valley ski team and pursued it from there.
What are your personal goals this year?
My biggest personal goal is just to make sure I'm always having fun. I can't forget that because that's why I do the sport, and losing track of that is what turned me off of motocross. Just to be consistent and stay healthy would be a huge win, too.
What are you most looking forward to as this busy competition season is about to unfold?
I guess the biggest thing I'm looking forward to is skiing my best, with the best skiers and in the best halfpipes in the world.