Olympic freestyle skier goes for gold in South Korea after near-death illness

Champion freestyle ski prodigy Torin Yater-Wallace has always faced adversity head-on and uses setbacks as catalysts for growth and future goals — including, he hopes, an Olympic gold medal in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

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The 22-year-old Aspen, Colorado, native sat down with ABC News to discuss his long hard-fought journey to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Freestyle Skier Torin Yater-Wallace poses for a portrait during the Team USA Media Summit ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, Sept. 26, 2017 in Park City, Utah.

Yater-Wallace is familiar with bending over backward and taking leaps of faith to succeed as a freestyle skier in halfpipe, but when family struggles and a life-threatening liver infection came into play, he had to face the unexpected hurdles head-on.

He recently shared his story about battling from the brink of death to his place atop the X-Games podium in “Back to Life,” a documentary produced by Red Bull.

“It was honestly more just wanting to tell a story that happens to be real life,” Yater-Wallace told Watt about his reasoning for doing the documentary. “It was also just a window to look into the life of a professional athlete. … You see what they do on TV and see them winning all these medals and you know life looks perfect and beautiful. But ultimately you don’t know anything about it,” he said.

“Skiing is what saved my life and it was my getaway as a kid,” Yater-Wallace said of his challenges early in life. At just 12 years old, his father was arrested, indicted and convicted of fraud and sent to prison. “The feds just took my dad from my sister and I and my mom and it was emotional and it was a hard time to go through as a kid,” he explained.

But he turned to skiing to…

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