TODAY

TODAY   |  January 17, 2014

Skier faces Sochi without her late teammate

While no stranger to the Olympics, champion freestyle skier Emily Cook says that competing in the upcoming Games in Sochi, Russia without Jaret “Speedy” Peterson, her former teammate and childhood friend  who took his life in 2011 after a long battle with depression, will be a new challenge.

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>>> "today's olympic start" is brought to you by kellogg's from great starts to great things.

>> now to today's olympic start. with 20 days until sochi and the selection event tomorrow in lake placid , emily cook is hoping to make the team.

>> she's overcome obstacles to become a six-time national champion in aerials and hoping for one more shot to win her first ever olympic medal .

>> when i was 12 years old, i wanted to go to the olympic games . and here i am more than 20 years later still working towards that.

>> emily cook defies gravity. twisting, turning, soaring through the air. toward her third olympic games .

>> how do you think you are different as an athlete now versus your first olympics ?

>> the first olympics in torino, it was kind of like all bright and shiny lights. i was excited to be there. and i've had a lot of time to prepare this time.

>> emily is coming off the best season of her career. but the road to sochi hasn't been easy professionally or personally. emily faces these games without her friend and teammate jarrett "speedy" peterson. the 2010 olympic silver medalist who lost his battle with depression and took his life in 2011 .

>> how did that affect you to lose him?

>> it was one of the hardest things i've ever had to live through.

>> friends since childhood, their bond was forever strengthened when speedy took emily 's spot at the 2002 salt lake games. emily sidelined after an injury during training left her with two broken feet.

>> this will be your first olympics , really, not competing with him there on the team. how painful will that be for you?

>> it'll be hard, yeah. i've never had any olympic experience without him. i jump with his belt, the one he jumped with. his mom gave that to me. and i always have his picture with me. he'll be with me.

>> reporter: also with her, her dad, who raised emily by himself.

>> he's been my rock, my support.

>> he's also become the team's unofficial photographer, capturing the highs and lows of emily 's life in the sky.

>> this is your backyard. the ramp is right there, right?

>> yeah, it was pretty amazing. i definitely looked out my window and watched to see what was going on there.

>> after disappointing performances in torino and vancouver, emily didn't know if she had another games in her.

>> when i left vancouver, i did think that was going to be my last olympics . part of me thought there was so much more to life, but the other part of me knew that i hadn't finished what i had started, you know. i know that i'm better than a lot of the players at the olympic games .

>> but she's not letting the past cloud her future.

>> i spent the last four years doing absolutely everything i can to be perfectly prepared for this olympic games . and i know i'll be able to walk away regardless of what happens feeling satisfied.

>> now you see how impressive she is off the snow equally as impressive. she's part of the speedy organization dedicated to understanding mental illness and preventing suicide. and over the past few years, i've learned a thing or two from emily and speedy. and last time, they were trying to teach me how to do some flips, though, in the water, of course.

>> that's impressive.

>> you were great.

>> that was in park city . we do wish emily lots of luck. her final competition is in lake placid before the olympic team is announced.

>> go get 'em.