Nick Goepper performs a trick during the men's freestyle skiing freeski slopestyle qualification on during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 15, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.
Nick Goepper wants to become the first one to collect the complete set.
No, he’s not sitting on his couch late at night watching a shopping channel. Goepper is in Beijing chasing another Olympic medal in men’s slopestyle skiing. He took a step in that direction at Genting Snow Park on Tuesday.
In the first of two runs in the slopestyle qualifier, the 27-year-old Goepper earned a score of 82.51 to secure third place and one of 12 spots in Wednesday’s final. There he could become the first male skier to win all three medals in any freestyle discipline.
Goepper already took home the bronze medal from Sochi in 2014 and the silver medal from PyeongChang in 2018. A gold medal from Beijing in his third Olympic appearance would round out the set.
Kari Traa of Norway is the only freestyle skier to claim a medal of all three colors, doing so in moguls skiing between 1998 and 2006. Mikael Kingsbury, a moguls skier from Canada, is the only other freestyle skier to have three total medals after winning a silver last week in Beijing.
“I want to win the gold medal, that’s for sure,” said Goepper, of Lawrenceburg, Indiana. “But most of all, I’m happy to be here. I’m just continually grateful every time I get to come down one of these runs and ski in front of my family and my friends. It’s a real privilege.”
Goepper didn’t want to get ahead of himself on Tuesday.
“My mindset was focus on what I could control,” said Goepper, “and focus on my tricks, and just take it one feature at a time.”
The focus paid dividends. Now Goepper is off to the finals along with teammates Alex Hall and Colby Stevenson, both of Park City, Utah. Hall, the 2021 world championships and 2022 X Games bronze medalist, placed fifth with a best score of 79.13. Stevenson, who already won a surprise silver medal in big air at these Games and claimed a silver medal in slopestyle at the 2021 world championships, was sixth at 78.01.
U.S. teammate Mac Forehand missed the final, placing 20th.
Andre Ragettli of Switzerland (85.08) led all qualifiers, followed by Norway’s Birk Ruud (83.96), who already won the big air gold medal in Beijing.
Goepper, Hall and Stevenson could match the U.S. men’s slopestyle podium sweep at Sochi in 2014 when Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy and Goepper took the gold, silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Goepper said he’s grown a great deal as a person since then.
“I think the personal stuff has changed a lot,” Goepper said. “Just with navigating life outside of skiing and figuring out who I am as a person outside of skiing has been probably the biggest learning experience over the last eight years.”
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Beijing 2022? Visit TeamUSA.org/Beijing-2022-Olympic-Games to view the competition schedule, medal table and results.