Indiana's Nick Goepper wins bronze in Olympics ski slopestyle
Indiana's Nick Goepper has won the bronze medal in freestyle skiing slopestyle at the Winter Olympics.
"It feels absolutely incredible. This day was stressing like crazy, but to land the best run of my life in finals to bring back a medal to Indiana is surreal," Goepper told Eyewitness News.
Goepper, who was favored to win gold heading into the event, was in first place with a score of 92.4 after his first run in the finals. But the competition came back and by his second run, he had slipped to third. He missed some elements early and simplified his final jump, scoring just 61.8.
"My guess is there was something that wasn't feeling right about the run, which held him back and he is okay with that," said Goepper's mother, Linda.
It meant American teammate Joss Christensen, with a top run of 95.8 would get gold and give silver Gus Kenworthy, who nailed a triple cork just before Goepper's final run to edge the Hoosier out of second place with a score of 93.6.
"This morning, we woke up and said, 'How cool would it be if we swept? Who cares who is on top, just as long as we are up there?' and it happened," Christensen said.
"It's amazing. It's the first USA sweep for the Sochi Games and it's just going to boost the confidence of all the other U.S. athletes here," Goepper said.
"I think it's amazing they all took the podium," said Goepper's sister, Kasey.
Nick's family, his parents Chris and Linda and sisters Kasey and Bradee and brother Jason, traveled from Lawrenceburg to offer support.
"It was a great day. Nick had a great day, all the guys did. All the U.S. team did. Everyone landed safe, no one is hurt," Chris Goepper said.
"It was an amazing day. Super sunny, bluebird (skies), couldn't have been better conditions," Nick said. "Yesterday was the best day of my life as far as practice goes, but today is the best day of my life in contest."
His next step? Coming back home.
"I want to get back to the States and just go home and ski in Indiana," he said. "The Indiana crowd is crazy. The amount of support they have been giving me is pretty wild, so I'm real thankful for that. I just want to thank God for an amazing day. Shout out to my friends my family and everyone back home."
"I am so proud and so excited for him," Linda said.
Goepper, ranked number one in the world in slopestyle skiing coming into the Sochi games, needed to place in the top 12 during preliminaries to advance in the event. He fell during his first round of Olympic competition and needed to nail his second and final run to move on.
Goepper's second preliminary run score of 87 was good enough to place fourth overall and advance, along with all three of his USA teammates.