The slopestyle athletes capped off X Games Aspen yesterday. Eighteen-year-old Lawrenceburg, Indiana-native Nick Goepper, who learned to ski on 300-foot landfills in Indiana, took home the gold on the men's side. Seventeen-year-old Norwegian Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen became the youngest female competitor to ever win gold in women's slopestyle. Both skiers' approach to the slopestyle course—nailing technical rail tricks and stomping big airs off the four bottom jumps—bellied their young ages.
Goepper burst onto the slopestyle scene at last year's X Games Aspen with a silver medal performance. This year, after qualifying in seventh place out of eight skiers, Goepper was the second athlete to drop in on each of the three runs in the finals, which meant he had to watch six subsequent skiers go after him. Goepper posted a big score to out front, but was nervous watching the rest of the field—which included Henrik Harlaut, Bobby Brown, James Woods, and Alex Bellemare, among others.
"It was nerve-racking," Goepper said, "I was wiping the sweat off my brow every time [someone dropped in]. I think I almost peed my pants, I was so nervous. I've been dreaming of this moment for years and I'm just so excited."
Goepper's winning run earned a score of 94 thanks to a few 270 ons and pretzel 270 offs, a hand-drag Japan over the rainbow, huge spins going both directions on the booters, and long tail grabs through his airs—a left double cork 10 tail, a right double cork 12 tail, a switch left double cork Japan, and a switch right double misty 12 mute. Every technical nuance mattered because only 9 points separated the gold medal score from the eighth place score.
The victory wasn't lost on Goepper, who touched base with his mom after receiving the hardware. It was Goepper's mom who put the poignant victory into perspective for this year's gold medalist. Goepper said: "She was telling me, 'Remember when you were really young, and you told me you wanted to win the X Games?' She said, 'That was so far off, I never thought that would happen.' Just to be here, skiing with all these rad dudes… I'm just so excited. This is the best day of my life."
Big Air gold medalist Henrik Harlaut rode the momentum after the historic night on Saturday to snag the silver medal. "I felt like I didn't have any pressure at all since [Saturday] night went so well," Harlaut said. "I just went out today to have fun and ski as well as I could."
Bronze went to X Games rookie James "Woodsy" Woods of Sheffield, Great Britain. "I've been dreaming of this since I started skiing when I was 11 years old," said Woods.
The women's slopestyle final got underway after Goepper won gold. And X Games Aspen newcomer Tiril Sjastad Christensen of Geilo, Norway, parlayed her techy rail sections up top and smooth airs on the bottom booters—throwing a cab 520 to a left 520 to a switch right 520, followed by a 900 tail on the last jump—into a gold medal. Her win makes her the youngest female to ever win X Games gold in slopestyle.
"It's unbelievable," said Tiril Sjastad Christensen. "I didn't think I was getting invited here, but to get gold is just unbelievable."
Perennial slopestyle power Kaya Turski battled through a few tough runs to snag the silver medal, and her up-and-coming Team Canada teammate, 18-year-old Dara Howell, won bronze.
"I am so excited, so relieved, I had a really rough time…falling on a box that didn't give me trouble all week," said Turski. "I feel like it's always that way, the stressful ones are the ones you get perfect."
Unfortunately, this year's women's slopestyle final will also be remembered for two horrific crashes that competitors sustained—one during the warmup session and the other during the finals. Rose Battersby suffered a lumbar spine fracture after crashing in the warmups. According to reports, Rose Battersby is feeling all extremities. And Ashley Battersby, who is not related to Rose, suffered a leg injury on the final jump of her last run. Ashley Battersby eventually finished in fourth place. Both skiers were transported to Aspen Valley Hospital directly from the X Games venue, and Rose has since been transferred to Denver. Our thoughts and well wishes go out to both female skiers.
Men's Slopestyle Final Results
1. Nick Goepper (Lawrenceburg, IN) 94.00
2. Henrik Harlaut (Are, SWE) 92.66
3. James Woods (Sheffield, GBR) 92.00
4. Alex Bellemare (Saint-Boniface, QC, BC) 90.66
5. Andreas Håtveit (Sudndalen, NOR) 90.33
6. Bobby Brown (Breckenridge, CO) 88.66
7. Alex Schlopy (Park City, UT) 87.33
8. Joss Christensen (Park City, UT) 85.00
Women's Slopestyle Final Results
1. Tiiril Sjåstad Christiansen (Geilo, NOR) 92.33
2. Kaya Turski (Montreal, QB, CAN) 90.00
3. Dara Howell (Hunstville, ON, CAN) 89.33
4. Ashley Battersby (Chicago, IL) 88.66
5. Keri Herman (Breckenridge, CO ) 88.33
6. Yuki Tsubota (Whistler, BC, CAN) 87.66
7. Jamie Crane-Mauzy (Park City, UT) 74.33