PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA - Hoosiers, Nick Goepper is in the building. The 23-year-old, two-time Olympian freestyle skier spoke at his first press conference in Pyeongchang Feb. 11 alongside the rest of the American skiing team.
Although Goepper doesn’t have to worry about competing until Feb. 18, he still always has one thing on his mind—bettering himself.
“I got a bronze medal in Sochi and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a little chip on my shoulder and want to better that this time around,” Goepper said. “Being the only returning medalist from Indiana and representing the Midwest, I would love to bring back another medal for the Hoosiers.”
However, In the next seven days, Goepper said he’s been “spending a lot of time in the athlete village trying to relax.”
Luckily for him, his family is here in Pyeongchang to help him do just that. Accompanied by his father Chris, mother Linda, younger siblings Kasey, Braddee and Jason, while waiting for his girlfriend to arrive as well, Goepper feels right at home.
“[My family] is here and it’s been great to see them,” Goepper said. “We reconvene every night at the PNG family home for dinner, which is a great place for everyone to just come together, hangout, relax and enjoy some company. It makes for a much more relaxed atmosphere.”
Described as a “big-time family guy,” by head U.S. Freeskiing Slopestyle coach Skogen Spring, this is just what Goepper needs to keep his cool until competition time.
“He’s a great kid,” Spring said. “He’s a small-town kid who’s making it big. He loves his family and he’s just really a great kid, and I value athletes like that. He’s also good to work with.
Although arriving weeks in advance of the competition allows Goepper and other athletes to adjust to the culture in Pyeongchang, South Korea, it also can make it challenging to stay on track with everything going on inside an Olympic venue and village.
“When things get hard, we try and focus on the things that we can control,” Spring said. “We try to keep our minds on competing and working hard at all times, especially at practice. However, it is good to do things outside of skiing together, like hangout and just have fun. That’s actually very important.”
When asked about a typical day for the next week with no competition, Goepper laid out a routine made to occupy himself.
“…I usually try to fill the day up with something, whether it be like a meeting, working out or going and seeing some fun things, or seeing the family and skiing like I did today. I try and exclude all idol time.”
While his family and friends help him enjoy his downtime, Goepper has a little plan in mind to include them during the competition too—even if it through headphones.
“I listen to music all the time,” Goepper said. “Lately I’ve been getting nostalgic about what I started listening to when I was really young, like 10 or 12. The first CD that my dad ever bought me was ‘Hybrid Theory’ by Linkin Park, so I just re-downloaded that and I’ve been listening to that a lot lately.”
Come competition time, Goepper said this will be the first time he’s chose to listen to the track while competing on the slopes. While his father will be watching from the side, it only feels right this time—even if his father wasn’t crazy about allowing Goepper to listen to the album in the first place.
“Oh, man,” Goepper laughed. “I know that he despised the music that came off the CD when he bought it for me, but I just felt so rebellious and great listening to it. But like I said, I get nostalgic listening to it, so I’m looking forward to that playlist.”
Just a week separates Goepper and another chance to stand on the Olympic podium with a medal around his neck. Dating back to 2014 at the Sochi Winter Olympics when the trio of Goepper and teammates Joss Christensen and Gus Kenworthy recorded the third sweep in Winter Olympic history, Goepper seems up to the challenge to repeat history.
When asked today if he was looking to take over the podium alongside his teammates again, he smiled.
“Of course. Nothing less.”
Goepper will compete in the Men’s Ski Slopestyle Final Run 3 Sunday, Feb. 18 at 12:11 p.m. ET.
Kara Biernat is a Ball State University journalism student. She and 4 other BSU students will be periodically contributing Olympic stories to WTHR. The students are in PyeongChang, South Korea to cover the Olympics.