By Paul D. Bowker | Dec. 16, 2017, 6:33 p.m. (ET)
Nick Goepper competes in men's ski slopestyle at the Dew Tour on Dec. 14, 2017 in Breckenridge, Colo.

 

Nick Goepper, who won a bronze medal in his and his event’s Olympic debut four years ago, took a solid first step toward the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Saturday.

Goepper finished second in the men’s slopestyle skiing event in the season-opening Dew Tour stop in Breckenridge, Colorado.

He was one of three Americans to finish in the top six of the competition, which was the first of five selection events in men’s slopestyle skiing for the U.S. Olympic Team.

Up to three U.S. men who earn two podium finishes across the five qualifying events will qualify for the Olympic team.

Goepper was part of a Team USA sweep at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 in slopestyle’s debut. He captured 80 qualifying points with Saturday’s finish, which included a score of 92 on his first run.

“It’s awesome,” Goepper said. “I really wanted the top spot, but I’m super happy with second.”

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2016 Youth Olympic silver medalist Alex Hall finished fifth, while 2014 Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy finished sixth.

Seven of the 12 competitors in Saturday’s finals were Americans, including 15-year-old Cody LaPlante.

Goepper was overtaken for first place by Sweden’s Henrik Harlaut, who had a score of 95 on his dynamic second run. Oystein Braaten of Norway placed third.

U.S. Olympic hopeful McRae Williams, who won the gold medal at the 2017 world championships, withdrew from the competition following a crash in his first run. He walked away from the crash, but he hit the snow hard with the side of his body as his equipment flew away from the impact.

Colby Stevenson also withdrew after a crash on his first run, and 2014 Olympian Bobby Brown was out after the second run with an ankle injury.

Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.