POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Feb 14, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 02:34 a.m. HST, Feb 14, 2014
SOCHI, Russia » The cool kids were throwing down tricks on the snow — one-upping one another —enjoying the sun and treating Thursday in Russia like a spring day in Utah or Colorado.
"United States of Awesome," came a voice from the gallery just behind the finish area.
That may best describe the day for U.S. slopestyle skiing. The United States swept the event: Twenty-two-year-old Joss Christensen of Park City, Utah, won the gold, longtime friend Gus Kenworthy, also 22, took the silver and favorite Nick Goepper, 19, got the bronze.
Even the fourth American, Bobby Brown, who finished ninth, displayed moxie, opting for a
T-shirt in the nearly 50-degree conditions.
"It was a great day for freeskiing, showcased it to the world," Goepper said.
Christensen, the last man added to the team, turned out to be the best. He wanted to make his late father, JD, proud of him, turning the day emotional for him and his mother, Debbie.
"He's been supporting me since Day 1 through all the injuries I've had, which I know scare parents a lot," Christensen said. "He's always supported me and never said stop. I wish he was here, and I hope he's looking down and smiling."
His father had a heart condition and died in August when Joss was on his way to a World Cup event in New Zealand.
"(My mother) actually didn't think she was going to come until a little under a week ago," Joss said. "She called me and she said a few of her friends helped get her a plane ticket out here and a hotel room opened up just down the way."
Goepper spoke of the closeness of the team.
"There's such a cool, creative element to what we do, it never really gets stale," Goepper said. "When slopestyle skiers -- when we're done competing -- we go out the next day and for fun we just go skiing. We would hit the same course tomorrow and work on our different tricks.
"NFL players, I don't think for fun, go out on an off day and smash into each other."
Los Angeles Times