Indiana’s Nick Goepper takes bronze at world championships in ski slopestyle

Ben Ramsey
Park Record
Third place finisher Nicholas Goepper, of the United States celebrates on the podium following the men's Slopestyle World Championship Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

PARK CITY, Utah — Indiana is not known for its skiing, but Nick Goepper is changing that.

Entering the 2019 FIS World Championships, the Lawrenceburg native had racked up five X Games medals, two Olympic medals and one world championship medal. On Wednesday, he added another piece of hardware to his trophy case, taking bronze in the freeski slopestyle competition on Park City Mountain Resort’s Pick N’ Shovel run.

He grew up crushing the runs at Perfect North Slopes on Indiana’s southeastern border, where he said he would cruise the 400-foot hill for hours – from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. if he felt like it.

“It actually played to my advantage,” he said. “You could get about 100 laps in in two hours, and that definitely allowed my ADD personality to be entertained after school every day.”

For his outstanding achievements in the sport, he was given the Sagamore of the Wabash award, considered Indiana’s highest honor. But at 24 years old, he’s not satisfied yet.

He said that, while some of his medals mean more than others, his drive for success has not slowed.

“It’s always still on the horizon,” he said in a press conference on Wednesday. “It’s always coming. I haven’t gotten it yet, so I’m always trying to chase that.”

That hunger was handy in Wednesday’s competition, which was delayed twice due to blowing snow that slowed the skiers and impaired their vision.

Despite the conditions, Goepper mustered a run earning a 85.14. It started with a switch 450 pretzel on the first rail, followed by a switch 180 up the gap leading to the second rail, which he leaped onto with a left-side 270 disaster. He finished the rail section with a 270-on and a 630-off.

For his jumps, Goepper performed a switch right-side misty 900 with a mute grab, followed by a right-side double cork 1080 safety on the second jump and left-side double cork 1260 tail grab on the last jump.

Besting Goepper was James Woods of Great Britain, who won gold with a score of 86.68, and silver medalist Birk Ruud of Norway. Woods’ medal is Great Britain’s first gold at the world championship level in freestyle skiing.

While Woods and Goepper bristled at the idea of being the old guys in the sport, Goepper said he recognized that the roles have switched for him as a competitor.

“Now, being one of the more experienced guys, and seeing guys like Mac Forehand and Birk come down and put down these amazing runs, now I know what its like for the older guys when I was that 17-year-old coming up,” he said. “And I’m definitely scared.”

In the press conference, Goepper called Park City home, despite his Indiana roots. His friends and family were standing in the crowd.

“It feels really good to be back on the podium,” he said.

But it won’t be long until he’s hunting again for what’s over the next horizon.