Men’s slopestyle: Win one for the Goepper
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
ASPEN – One of the first things he did was call his mom.
When Nick Goepper was younger, he told his mom that one day, he would win a gold medal at the Winter X Games.
Then, it was a far-out goal. Now, it’s reality.
The 18-year-old from Lawrenceburg, Ind., landed every single trick he attempted Sunday afternoon at Buttermilk during the men’s skiing slopestyle final. Goepper led from start to finish – posting a 92.33 on his first run and then a 94.00 on his last – to claim his second medal in the Winter X Games and his first gold.
“I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was a little kid,” he said. “To just be here skiing with these dudes, I’m just so excited. This is the best day of my life.”
Goepper fought off slopestyle top qualifier James Woods, of Sheffield, England.
Woods was the favorite to take the gold medal after defending gold medalist Tom Wallisch failed to qualify for the final and Woods posted a 92.66 on Friday.
Goepper, who qualified seventh with an 85, was the second competitor down the slopestyle course during the final, and he set the bar high.
After a clean rail section up top, Goepper landed a left-side double-cork 1080 tail grab, a right-side 1260 double-cork tail grab, a switch left-side double-cork 1080 Japan grab and a switch right-side double-whiskey 1260 mute grab.
“I felt really good, and my skis were running really fast,” Goepper said. “I just visualized my runs, getting smooth grabs and clean landings.”
Woods responded with a 91.33 on his first run and said he didn’t change any aspect of his own plan when Goepper landed all his tricks.
“You have your game plan and know where you can upgrade it,” Woods, 21, said. “But I was just like, ‘Ride it,’ and I was good.”
Woods, a first-time X Games competitor, couldn’t keep pace with Goepper, nor could he top big-air gold medalist Henrik Harlaut.
Harlaut, a 21-year-old from Are, Sweden, landed a butter triple-cork 1260 to take big-air gold Saturday evening and landed a double-cork version of the trick on his third run to post a 92.66 and claim silver.
“I felt like I didn’t have any pressure on me at all because last night went so well,” Harlaut said. “I just had a lot of fun and put down a run as good as I could.”
When Goepper increased his lead on his final run, he was left to watch the other six competitors try and beat his score.
“Very fragile nerves were strung out,” Goepper said. “Anyone could have won today. It was anyone’s contest. Everyone was just skiing fantastic. Watching everyone drop in was very nerve-racking. I almost peed in my pants a few times.”
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