It was a huge U.S. podium sweep at the historic debut of Men’s Slopestyle Skiing in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games on 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. Bobby Brown (Breckenridge, CO) also qualified for the final and finished seventh.
Big ups to gold medalist, Joss Christensen! Photo: @guskenworthy
“It means a lot to me. I’m just so excited to even make it here,” said gold medalist, Joss Christensen. ” 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!”
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.
Team USA stoked to sweep the podium, bringing home gold, silver and bronze! Photo: @kingwith2crowns Instagram
“Hopefully the world recognizes how much fun we’re having,” continued Christensen. “Gus and I have 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.”
“Just competing for the USA is so cool,” said Christensen. “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.”
Joss Christensen is no stranger to hucking on the slopestyle course. Photo: Sarah Brunson | U.S. Freeskiing
Friend and teammate Gus Kenworthy was overwhelmed with stoke:
“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’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,” said Kenworthy. “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.”
Gus Kenworthy practicing his slopestyle tricks before dominating in Sochi. Photo: Sarah Brunson | U.S. Freeskiing
Nick Goepper was a medal hopeful with many fans on his tail, especially now after his podium finish:
“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… 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.”
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.