The Winter Games have already been filled with dramatic showdowns and underdog domination; and Men’s Slopestyle Skiing may be the highlight of this trend. Park City’s, Joss Christensen executed an exciting, dialed, and most of all a fun run for the crowd and judges, bringing him to the top of the podium with Gold in his hands. This was the culmination of a journey that Christensen almost wasn’t a part of.
This story started even before Sochi. Leading up to the Olympics, Christensen had only one major win in competition at Park City’s Grand Prix. This meant he had not automatically qualified to be a part of the team, leaving him with one opportunity, the coach’s discretionary spot. Also gunning for the spot was Tom Wallisch, Alex Schlopy and recent X Games Silver Medalist McRae Williams. These guys are the ones to beat come any competition, but the coaches for Team USA saw something in Christensen that put him in that final Olympic spot. Although it created some controversy among the skiing community, it would prove to be a valid decision.
Once Christensen arrived he was taking his momentum and energy from the atmosphere and putting it into his practice runs. As the other Olympians on his team watched him practice they realized why the coaches had added him at the last minute. He was throwing tricks with a creativity and style that most skiers are constantly striving for. At one point, legend skier Bobby Brown said Christensen would be “unbeatable” come finals; this was a strong statement from one of Slopstyle’s top athletes.
To win Gold, most of the Slopestyle team had determined that a triple cork would be a necessity, a trick Christensen had not landed before Sochi. During practice he stomped it. This was the moment when he took complete control; adding the Switch Right Triple Cork 1260 to his runs during practice, and finally into competition, it allowed him the edge he needed to grab Victory. Once again, we get to see how momentum, the Olympic atmosphere, and pure determination can change the expected outcome of an event such as this.
This was not only a great win for Christensen, but for team USA as a whole. Joining him on the podium were US team members Gus Kenworthy leaving with silver and Nick Goepper taking Bronze. This marked the first TEAM USA podium sweep in Winter Olympics since 2002, and only the third time it has happened overall, a very strong way to enter this Slopestyle Skiing into Winter Olympic History.