It was a U.S. podium sweep at the historic debut of men’s slopestyle skiing in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games Thursday, when Joss Christensen took the first-ever gold medal with Gus Kenworthy earning silver and Nick Goepper bronze. (Getty Images/Al Bello)
ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Feb. 13) – It was a U.S. podium sweep at the historic debut of men’s slopestyle skiing in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games Thursday, when Joss Christensen (Park City, UT) took the sport’s first-ever gold medal with his good friends Gus Kenworthy (Telluride, CO) and Nick Goepper (Lawrenceburg, IN) earning silver and bronze. The new Olympic event saw the tight American crew beat out some of the sport’s top athletes, including Great Britain’s James Woods and Norway’s Andreas Haatveit, and showcased the sport’s mix of volatility and creativity to the world. The debut is set to air on NBC’s primetime Olympic coverage Thursday at 8:00 p.m. EST, and it can be streamed in its entirety on NBCOlympics.com. Next, the men battle it out for the first-ever medals in halfpipe skiing Tuesday Feb. 18.
It was a U.S. podium sweep at the historic debut of men’s slopestyle skiing in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games Thursday, when Joss Christensen (Park City, UT) took the sport’s first-ever gold medal with his good friends Gus Kenworthy (Telluride, CO) and Nick Goepper (Lawrenceburg, IN) earning silver and bronze.
The new Olympic event saw the tight American crew pull out the newest and most challenging tricks, dethroning some of the sport’s top athletes including Great Britain’s James Woods and Norway’s Andreas Haatveit. The event also showcased the sport’s mix of volatility and creativity to the world.
The sport’s creative competition comes from the camaraderie between the athletes and their ability to inspire each other with a good run or a new trick. That’s especially true with Christensen, Kenworthy and Goepper, who grew up skiing, training and competing together.
The boys’ podium sweep was the third in Olympic Winter Games history for the USA, after men’s figure skating in 1956 and men’s halfpipe snowboarding in 2002.
Christensen came out of the gates swinging and shot into the top spot after his impressive first run, which earned him an unbeatable score of 95.80.
Goepper landed second after his first run score of 92.40, but was forced to settle for bronze after Kenworthy laid down a clutch second run that earned him the silver medal.
Bobby Brown (Breckenridge, CO) also qualified for the final and finished seventh.
Warm temperatures at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park provided soft, carvable snow and gave the athletes a perfect medium to put down some of the best runs ever seen in the sport. All top three athletes were able to land triple corks in their runs, which many see as the future of slopestyle skiing.
Christensen is also good friends with slopestyle snowboarding gold medalist and fellow Park City All Star Sage Kotsenburg. They both grew up shredding the Kings Crown terrain park at Park City Mountain Resort and have remained friends throughout their careers, even cheering each other on during the Sochi 2014 Games.
The debut is set to air on NBC’s primetime Olympic coverage Thursday at 8:00 p.m. EST, and it can be streamed in its entirety on NBCOlympics.com.
Next, the men battle it out for the first-ever medals in halfpipe skiing Tuesday Feb. 18.
QUOTES Joss Christensen It means a lot to me. I’m just so excited to even make it here. That was huge for me. I just wanted to keep the ball rolling. We’ve been skiing for so long this year and I just wanted to prove myself and have fun with it for the most part. I’m so happy to be on top with my two really good friends. Go America!
Just competing for the USA is so cool. It’s such a different feeling here. We’re all representing; we all have outerwear that says USA on it, which is pretty cool. We can be proud to be on this team. It’s just so awesome to be out here and I think today was a good showing of our sport, so hopefully the world recognizes how much fun we’re having.
Gus and I hit it off right away. We’ve been such good friends since we were kids and I feel like we’ve pushed each other to get where we’re at today. Gus has been a huge inspiration to me. I’ve always been trying to keep up with him and do what he’s doing.
The weather was amazing. It was so warm and the perfect conditions for us to have a slopestyle contest.
Gus Kenworthy This is all overwhelming. It’s been pretty crazy: the feeling of landing that run, knowing it was the best run I’ve ever done and that I landed it smooth, just waiting for the score, having everyone chanting USA…it was overwhelming.
It’s been incredible. I knew the whole time that the USA had the potential to get a sweep. We have so many talented skiers. There are like 12 guys in the top 30 and a lot of them couldn’t make it because our team can only have four people maximum.
Joss I’ve known since I was 12 years old and I’m so happy for him with the win. He skied amazingly. And Nick is always the guy you’re looking to at the contest. He’s the one to beat. He’s so talented. He’s so consistent. So it’s an honor to be with them. Unfortunately Bobby (Brown) couldn’t get on the podium, but he’s definitely a medal contender too.
Nick Goepper It was incredible. To come out on the podium I couldn’t be happier. To have a field of 30 or 40 guys and whittle it down to three and to be one of those three on the podium is…I think I just have to sit back and realize how surreal this is. I think it’s going to give the U.S. a lot more confidence and it’s going to get a lot of people really excited. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to debut the sport to the world.
I think today showed everyone in the industry and out in the world that anyone can win in slopestyle on any given day. Everyone is so good and all the runs are changing and getting better every day. The progression is steadily climbing and there’s guys bringing out new tricks every day. I think everyone waited to bring the big guns out until the Olympics.
Everyone keeps talking about fun in slopestyle skiing and I think that’s what makes it so cool is there such a cool creative element to what we do. It never really gets stale. I think a good comparison is when we’re done competing, we go out the next day and for fun we just go skiing. We would hit this same course tomorrow and just work on our own personal style and work on our own flavor on all our different tricks. Say like NFL players, I don’t think for fun they go out on an off day and smash into each other.
Skogen Sprang, U.S. Freeskiing Head Slopestyle Coach I’d say this is pretty amazing. I’m still kind of in shock. We don’t really talk about that before. The chance was there, but you can’t expect it to happen. You just have to do all the steps and the work to get there and then see how it plays out. It’s amazing. They did their job, stomped their runs and crushed it.