TORINO: Freestyle: Coloradoan crowd favorite with aerials face plant{mosimage}SAUZE D’OULX, Italy – After his face-plant into the snow caused both skis to fly off, there wasn’t the slightest hint that 44-year-old Clyde Getty was thinking he was too old for jumping.

Getty crashed on both his jumps, but was the happiest competitor on the hill in Sauze d’Oulx.

Competing in men’s aerials qualifying round Monday night for his parents’ homeland of Argentina, the Colorado resident bounced up on his feet as he slid down the landing and extended both arms to salute the crowd, which saluted him back with fervor.

He was a prime example of an Olympian who really was just happy to be here, even if the trip doesn’t result in a spot on the podium.

“People love me and I love the people. The passion is just so deep inside you want to cry,” said Getty, whose real job is running his own computer systems consulting business in Boulder. “I’ve gotten my dream, I want everybody to know that age doesn’t matter. You’ve just got to have it inside.”

This was Getty’s second Olympics. He didn’t make the finals either time, but that didn’t stop him from celebrating like a champion.

As the crowd roared its appreciation after his face-down landing, he threw his helmet — painted light blue and white like the Argentinian flag — up in the air and blew kisses to the fans.

But this wasn’t the latest reprise of the act Englishman Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards put on in ski jumping in the 1988 Games.

Getty has a genuine history with his sport, jumping for the U.S. freestyle team from 1989 to 1997. He placed second in the 1992 NorAm aerial championships and had three top-10 NorAm Cup finishes between 1995 and 1996.

When in the late 1990s he could no longer hold his place on the U.S. team, he decided to apply for Argentinian citizenship — a three-year process that ended in time for him to qualify for the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.

He conceded his repertoire was so outdated it would take “divine intervention” for him to make the finals this time around.

Still, none of this is easy. His first jump was a back flip with a full twist which he nearly landed cleanly. He was back on his skis, however, and had to briefly sit and touch the snow to recover. His second jump was a triple back flip, but he under-rotated slightly, landing on his feet but getting immediately thrown forward onto his face to start his famous tumble down the Olympic hill.

“It was a split second. I nailed it in training,” Getty said. “I gave it my best.”

And maybe not for the last time.

Soon, he’ll return to Colorado to work on computers for a while, but there could be more Olympics in his future.

“I have my skeleton license,” he said. “So you never know what’s going to happen.”

– The Associated Press

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