Oystein Braaten from Norway took gold with his very first run in the men’s freestyle skiing slopestyle at PyeongChang 2018 on Sunday 18 February. Nick Goepper (USA) sneaked into second place on the podium with his final run, while Alex Beaulieu-Marchand (CAN) won bronze.
Braaten, one of the sport’s most consistent skiers and a fine rail technician, has two Winter X Games golds in slopestyle. He added a first Olympic gold to his career medal collection with a first-run score of 95.00 at Phoenix Snow Park.
“First run I did what I planned to do, what I wanted to do as well as I could, and it held up against all the great runs today,” said Braaten afterwards.“ Just being a part of a final like this was amazing.The level was so high. I have looked up to so many of the guys and they have inspired me every day to go out and ride. When I first got to compete with these guys it was amazing.”
Joy for Goepper
After two sub-70 scores in his first two runs, Goepper delivered when it counted with 93.60 on his final run. He goes one better on his performance at Sochi 2014, when he won bronze.
"This is it. I’m at my second Olympics, I want a medal and I just visualised, stuck to my training and nailed it,” said the American, explaining what was going through his mind ahead of his medal-winning third run. “I really had to dig deep. I was visualising myself landing on the last jump, arms open just screaming, and it all came to fruition. I did two of exactly the same tricks as I did in Sochi. The first jump and the third jump were the same."
Cheered on by brave shirtless supporters bearing his initials on their chests, Beaulieu-Marchand recorded a score of 92.40 on his second run, part of a consistent final performance in which he scored above 80 with his other two runs.
“I think I’m a third-place kind of guy” said Beaulieu-Marchand, who has never finished higher than third at a World Cup event. “Today was the best day of skiing I have ever had in my life.”
The Canadian edged Great Britain's James Woods into fourth place by just 1.40 points. Woods was the only competitor to score 90 points or over on multiple runs but with only the top score counting towards the final result, he missed out on claiming a second skiing bronze for Team GB at these Games.
The ski slopestyle field delivered some excellent scores in qualifying, with eight of the 12 athletes who reached the final scoring over 90.