Goepper ready to go for slopestyle gold
When Nick Goepper visits home, neighbors can spot him riding his skateboard down the street or balancing on a rope in the front yard. If he's not sleeping, his mother Linda says he's on the move.
It's part of the natural drive that led to where he is now - favored to win at the Olympics in slopestyle skiing. And if he does, his world will change.
Alan Abrahamson, the NBC Olympic analyst, said Nick "is going to be a rock star here shortly. I mean, an absolute rock star."
Nick turned professional in his early teens and is an X-Games star who, now at 19, talks directly to his fan base on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. His followers have quadrupled to 18,000 in a matter of months.
Despite the growing fame, his family says Nick has remained the same.
"I figure if we haven't seen it so far," said Linda about Nick's humility, "I mean, he has more than enough reason to have a huge ego and be all about himself."
Sister Kasey said, "If he ever did start to become big-headed I would step in because, if you're going to be my brother, that can't happen because I won't allow it. But he's never been one to be cocky or try to make himself seem better then he is."
The fact that Nick came out of Indiana with very few training resources available to him and advanced to the highest level of his sport makes his sister proud.
And Thursday, after he's practiced on the Olympic slopestyle course at Krasnaya Polyana for days, he competes for gold.
"I feel great," Nick said. "My body feels great. Figuring out my runs, figuring out different rail tricks. We've had tons of practice time for figuring out the course."
Nick predicts what it will take to get gold. "I think it will take solid grabs and solid landings, and just variety top to bottom."
The judge's score is based on an overall impression. Though he's not revealing what tricks he plans to perform, he plans to win. "I think a triple cork will definitely be a staple in the winning run," Nick predicts.
Even his dad, Chris, isn't sure what he will see. "I wish I knew," Chris laughed. "Maybe he'll call it the 'DOD' - Dear Old Dad."
Linda says though she won't be able to see him get ready for the competition Thursday morning, she knows exactly what Nick will be doing. "He says his prayer at the beginning and he does his little routine and visualization of his run," she said.
And now this individual sport athlete, ranked number one in the world, will compete for his team and his country. The transition, Nick said, is easy.
"The one time when we are all competitors is when we drop in for 45 seconds during our runs," Nick said. "Then we get to the bottom and it's like, 'he had a sick run.' You know, it's camaraderie for the most part. But in the heat of the contest, you're watching out for what everybody else is doing. But everyone wants to win."