By Lisa Dillman, Los Angeles Times
SOCHI, Russia -- Emily Cook was doing a facile job of providing a summation of her Olympic career and the future of American aerialists, all neatly done in the confines of the mixed zone on Friday.
One question took slightly longer for Cook to answer.
Cook was asked what Jeret "Speedy" Peterson would have had to say about her career.
“He would have been bummed I didn’t hit that second jump,” Cook said, laughing. “But no, he’s with me. He’s here. I’m positive of that.”
Cook’s close friend, Peterson, was a major figure in the sport by virtue of his skill and considerable charisma and helped her deal with a devastating injury in 2002, which kept her out of the Olympics.
He won the silver medal in Vancouver in 2010. Peterson, who had fought depression for years, committed suicide in 2011.
"I’m sad not having him here, of course,” Cook said. “But my mission is to carry on what he started, to carry on his legacy, to continue having conversations about mental health.
"To have conversations about depression, to get people help when they need help. All of that."
She returned to Friday’s competition, and seconded her earlier thought, saying: “Yeah, he would have been totally bummed about that jump.
"He would have wanted me on the podium for sure. Four years ago, he was proud of my career. I was saying I was retiring then too. I’ve had trouble keeping that promise since 2002.
"He’s a huge part of why I’m here today, why I was able to come from that injury in 2002. He was by my side for every moment of that. He taught me a couple of things, for sure. How to be strong through challenging situations but also how to come out of something like this, and smile and have fun anyway."