YouTube sensation Zia Terry recipient of big surprise | ParkRecord.com

YouTube sensation Zia Terry recipient of big surprise

Christopher Kamrani, The Park Record

As 10-year-old Zia Terry slowly walked onto the balcony of the Utah Olympic Park museum Thursday afternoon, a line of World Cup ski jumpers awaited her.

But she wasn’t intimidated. In fact, the fourth grader at Jeremy Ranch Elementary was almost exuberant as the group of Women’s Ski Jumping USA athletes awaited to surprise and congratulate her on her inaugural 40-meter hill ski jump.

At first, Terry couldn’t stop smiling as she thanked the likes of Sarah Hendrickson, Lindsey Van, Jessica Jerome, Abby Hughes, Nita Englund and coaches Alan Alborn and Paolo Bernardi who wore their blue WSJ-USA jackets.

"I kind of noticed that something fishy was going on because there weren’t too many people in the building," she said. "I’ve been following my dream, like I saw on one of their web pages. It said, ‘follow your dream, not mine.’" That’s what I’ve been doing."

The Park City resident followed her dream and became an overnight Internet sensation thanks to her GoPro helmet-mounted camera recording her initial jump on the 40-meter hill, which included a memorable one minute and 49 seconds of inspiring self-dialogue.

"Here goes something, I guess," she says.

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"You can do this," she continued later in the video.

The video, which her mother Jennifer Terry initially sent to a group of friends, has nearly 1.3 million views in the 10 days since it was uploaded onto YouTube.

"She just picks her things that she wants to get involved with and she just really jumped into it — literally," Jennifer Terry said. "(She is) very adventurous — enough to drive Mom to her grave."

She said Zia became involved with ski jumping through the Get Out & Play Program put on by the Youth Winter Sports Alliance.

"She’s just one of the many, many, many kids involved," Terry said. "So she’s representing a lot of us up here."

After going through the line of athletes and receiving gifts such as Women’s Ski Jumping USA jacket, an autographed team bib and posters, Zia Terry addressed the crowd.

"This is the closest thing I’ll ever get to flying," she said.

Hughes, 22, who has been ski jumping for 16 years, said she appreciates the enthusiasm Zia brings to the sport. It’s a necessity if the sport is to continue to develop across the world, she added.

"You get anxious and you’re excited and that’s what the sport is all about," she said. "It’s something that not a lot of people get to live, and she’s helping.

"I’m really glad that she has people in front of her like my team that have been through it all. We’re the pioneers, and now she has people to look up to. I never had that when I was her age. I always looked up to the boys."

As for Zia, the jovial young athlete said ski jumping is just part of her developing love for the science of flight. She said she’s already done a science project on flight and has taken the controls of two planes mid-flight.

"Hands on steering wheel, feet on the rudder pedals, steering the plane and getting closer to the runway," she explained. "Then they do the landing, because I can’t do that just yet."

She said now that she’s conquered the 40-meter hill and become an Internet sensation because of it, she will set her sights on bigger things — and hills. She said the 60-meter hill is next, followed by the 90, and eventually the K120.

"After I’ve done the 120, I want to make the World Cup or Olympics or something," she said. "If I make the Olympics, my next dream is to coach kids, even though I am a kid."

Jennifer Terry said she never imagined the YouTube video would catch fire the way it did, but it’s been fun for the entire family.

"Of course it’s going to be great for Zia, but it’s just as big of an honor for the parents," she said. "It’s very fun to read the comments on YouTube and other websites."

Ironically, Zia said she’d forgotten she had turned her helmet-cam on at the time of the famous recording.

"It feels almost like you’re a bird learning to fly," she said, "still trying to figure out how to use your wings."

Once she stuck her initial landing on the YouTube video, Zia’s celebration concluded with a statement she reiterated at her surprise party Thursday afternoon.

"The 60 seems like nothin’ now," she says.