Nick Goepper holds on for gold
ASPEN, Colo. -- Nick Goepper earned the biggest win of his young career Sunday at X Games Aspen, taking gold in Ski Slopestyle a year after being relegated to silver on the final run of the day.
Goepper, 18, who grew up skiing a 400-foot hill in rural Indiana, held off four other skiers who broke 90 points. His third-run score of 94.00 was the winner, and it prolonged one of the quirkiest streaks in recent X Games history: nine skiers have now won Slopestyle gold in the past nine years.
"It was nerve racking," Goepper said of waiting to see if his score would hold up. "I was wiping the sweat off my brow every time. I think I almost peed my pants, I was so nervous."
Later, he added: "I've been dreaming of this moment since I was a little kid. I just got off the phone with my mom and she said, 'Remember when you were really young and you said I want to win the X Games?' And she said, 'I never thought it would happen. And now you're here.' It's the best day of my life."
Sweden's Henrik Harlaut, who made freeskiing history Saturday night with a nose butter triple cork 1620 that clinched gold in Big Air, earned his second medal in 16 hours with silver on Sunday. He finished his third run with a nose butter double cork 1260 that helped him earn a 92.66, just enough to surpass X Games rookie James Woods of Great Britain (92.00 on his third run).
"I wanted this super bad," said Woods, who qualified No. 1. "I messed up on the last jump so I'm disappointed in myself, but still happy to have a bronze medal."
Goepper was no stranger to sitting around and waiting to see if he'd win, having been through the same drama last year when he took a late lead in the final. In that instance, Tom Wallisch bumped him to silver with the highest score in X Games Ski Slopestyle history, 96.00.
Wallisch, skiing with a strained MCL this year, missed the final by one point Thursday and watched from the bottom of the course.
Goepper's technical mastery was evident at all points through his run. His rail sections were clean and varied, and he spun all four ways -- forward and switch, right and left -- on his jumps: double cork 1080, rightside double cork 1260 tail, switch left double cork 1080 Japan, switch double misty 1260.
Canadian Alex Bellemare and 2008 champion Andreas Håtveit of Norway also posted scores in the 90s but just missed the podium. The final was so full of spectacular skiing that even after Alex Schlopy landed a double cork 1620 tail grab, his 87.33 was only good enough for seventh.