Sunday, Indiana’s Nick Goepper successfully defended his X Games gold medal in slopestyle, topping a field of eight finalists in a best-of-three-run format; Goepper becomes the first male to win consecutive slopestyle contests here at X Games since Tanner Hall earned a three-peat in 2004. Rounding out the podium was McRae Williams in second, and Andreas Håtveit, third.
Goepper’s winning run, his third and final run of the day, consisted of a switch 270 on, pretzel 450 out of the down rail up top; front swap, pretzel 270 out of the flat rail to down box; switch on, rodeo 450 out of the trap rail; left dub 12 mute; switch left side dub 10 Japan; switch right dub 9 screamin’ and a triple cork 1440 mute to close. Goepper put the same run down on his second drop, but cleaned things up on his third go-round, earning an even 95.00.
Nick Goepper wins slopestyle gold, X Games 2014
Worth noting: Goepper’s triple cork 1440 was the second triple ever thrown in X Games slopestyle competition. The first came earlier in the day, as Mr. Gus Kenworthy put a switch triple 14 to his feet.
In regards to the triple, Goepper noted, “I had to bring out all the ammo. I was so nervous the last few days. I hadn’t done [the triple] since May, and I’ve probably only done eight in my entire life… but, seeing all the snowboarders throw down gave me some more confidence to go for it, and after doing it a few times, muscle memory took over, so, I was pretty stoked to put it down.”
“This entire season, [doing well here is] all I was thinking about,” Goepper added. “I wanted to do well at X, because that would give me momentum going into Sochi. To come here and see [that vision] come to fruition… I’ve worked so hard this summer and early this winter, to see all that hard work pay off… I’ve had more fun this season than any other. I have so many friends and family here, the support I’ve had this season is amazing.”
Also worth noting: For those wondering, Goepper continues to compete without poles in an effort to “try and be a little different, and just mix it up a bit.” When asked if this is a trend he’ll continue beyond the current season, “No,” was his answer.
McRae Williams’ silver medal run, X Games 2014
Landing in second today was Park City’s McRae Williams. Williams’ strong performance this afternoon is perhaps overshadowed by the fact that he was certainly in contention for a spot on the U.S. Olympic freeskiing team, yet was unable to clinch a spot via the five Olympic qualifying events. McRae addressed the matter, and his podium, during a press conference post-final.
“We have our good days and our bad days,” he explained. “[Today], I just happened to have a good day, on the right day. I’m always skiing as hard as I possibly can. Sometimes you win ’em, sometimes you lose ’em. Things didn’t go so well for me in the beginning of the season, I was definitely able to stay consistent, I just didn’t find the podium [in those Olympic qualifiers.]
In that same press conference, Goepper showed support for his fellow American.
“The U.S. has some strong riders going to Sochi,” Nick said. “I think, there’s a strong chance we could see three Americans on the podium. Me, Joss, Gus, Bobby, we’re all feeling good. I’m disappointed that McRae wasn’t able to make [the team, though.] One way or another, he’s one of the best skiers out there, and definitely deserved to go to Sochi.”
Following the contest, many skiers showed their support for McRae via Twitter, as well.
“McRizz skied like a G today. @McRaeWilliams1,” said Jossi Wells.
“4 way doubles, no spin under 1080. McRae needs a higher score now,” wrote Jacob Wester.
Finishing third today was Norway’s Andreas Håtveit; this marks Dre’s ninth X Games appearance, and his sixth podium. Making this bronze medal all the more special is the fact that the 27-year-old announced prior to the finals that this would be his final X Games. A husband and father, Andreas is committed to his family going forward.
“I decided [I’d pull the plug] this November and December,” Andy explained. “I was home with my family, I left at 11:00 in the morning, came home around 11:00 at night, skiing all day, all night, every day, seven days a week, for two months. So, I was home for two months and still didn’t see my family. That made me know I had to do something. It’s going to be skiing or family, which made that choice really easy. I just want to be the best father and husband I can be.”
Speaking to his performance today, Andreas said, “I can’t believe I made the podium. I got emotional for a second, and I’m not even that kind of guy… Skiing with these guys, and with how good they are, to get a podium is amazing.”
“I’m always skiing as well as I can,” Dre continued, “but I held back a little bit here, because I didn’t want to get hurt before [the Olympics,] you know? But the podium here just made my whole season. No matter what happens [in Sochi], this is going to be one of the best seasons I ever had.”
Andreas Håtveit’s bronze medal run, X Games 2014
Other items of interest:
The top qualifier in slopestyle and last night’s big air champion, Henrik Harlaut, missed the podium by a mere one point. Kenworthy also received much praise today—his switch triple stirring much positive buzz on the various social networks. Christensen also received widespread kudos. Among the more vocal on Twitter today, also referenced above, Jacob Wester shared plainly, “Joss’ score is horsecrap.”
The men’s and women’s slopestyle finals conclude the skiing portion of X Games 2014. As always, it’s been one heck of a great week, and a bit of a whirlwind.
Results: 2014 X Games slopestyle final
1. Nick Goepper — 95.00
2. McRae Williams — 92.66
3. Andreas Håtveit — 90.33
4. Henrik Harlaut — 89.33
5. Gus Kenworthy — 87.00
6. Joss Christensen — 86.33
7. Antti Ollila — 85.00
8. Russ Henshaw — 78.66