PARK CITY, Utah
Hayli Goode/Ball State University
Lawrenceburg, Ind.-native Nick Goepper described freestyle skiing as an art form.
“The course is your canvas, and your skis are the paintbrushes,” Goepper said.
Currently ranked No. 1 in slopestyle skiing by the Association of Freeskiing Prefessionals, the 19-year-old brunette said competing in the X Games was his dream as a child, and The Olympic Games did not become a reality the sport was introduced into the Winter Olympic Games on Feb 11, 2013.
Slopestyle skiing originated from snowboarding in that the goal is to perform the most different and difficult tricks off of half pipes. The difference is that the competitors are on skis instead of boards.
It’s also Goepper’s first Olympic ride.
“We’re kind of all going about this for the first time. It’s going to be fun and I’m really excited for it. At the same time, we haven’t been training for this moment since we could walk,” Goepper said.
Now he holds the gold medal from the X Games and is on track to make the Olympic team. He made his first stop in the “skiing mecca of the world,” as Goepper described it, for the Olympic Media Summit in Park City, Utah.
Instead of playing basketball like his father wanted, the Sochi hopeful grew up 10 minues away from Perfect North Slopes and started skiing at the age of 5, when his mom signed him up for ski lessons.
“I actually hated skiing at first. I didn’t want to do it because I was uncomfortable; I couldn’t turn, but once I figured out I could go fast and jump off stuff, I loved it,” Goepper said.
Goepper trained at Perfect North every day after school. During the off-season, he used a trampoline and skateboard ramps in his backyard to train aerial and half pipe tricks.
“I actually didn’t like skateboarding at all, either,” he said. “But I really looked up to high schoolers I saw on the course or practicing.”
The official freestyle Olympic skiing team will not be announced until Jan. 17-19 in Park City, Utah, during the U.S. Grand Prix.
Until then, Nick is still in school at the Windell Academy, a year-round snow sports camp in Oregon, where he received a full scholarship. He is living in Oregon and training with his coach at Wendell.
“Kind of not being a normal college kid, kind of going on that normal route, I think I’ve missed a lot of experiences in that perspective, but at the same time I’ve substituted for a lot of things being a professional skier and traveling the world. I’m really thankful for the experiences I get with this crazy schedule,” Goepper said. “Really, to me, it’s going to mean the world, and it’s going to be a dream come true to represent the USA at the Olympics and be a part of history, being the first ever Olympics slopestyle competition.”
If he makes it to Sochi, Goepper’s family will be traveling with him. He says he’s excited because it will be his sibling’s first trip out of the country.