By Sam Draut
Nick Goepper won a bronze medal in the first ever Olympic Slopestyle competition in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The 19-year-old Olympian grew up in Lawrenceburg, Ind. and recently took time to sit down with the Louisville Cardinal.
Q: How great was it to medal for the country?
A: Medaling for the country and winning a bronze medal was incredible because I not only did it for myself and my family, but I also did it for my nation and brought a new level of pride to the Olympics.
Q: Sochi received some negative attention while hosting the Olympics, what was your take on it?
A: The Olympic experience was really sweet because it wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be, a few of my friends who were on the team with me, we were able to have our own little hallway. So when we got there it was like any other competition and we got into a routine. And we got used to it and had fun skiing because the course was so big and fast. Overall, it was a great time.
Q: How long were you in Sochi?
A: I was in Sochi for about two weeks. It was different than any other contest because we had 10 days of practice before the event. Usually it is three days of practice before a big event. I actually didn’t prefer it because it elongated the pressure building process and so the anticipation and pressure built more than if we had just a few short days.
Q: Was it different preparing for the Olympics?
A: The preparation or training process wasn’t too different from X games or any other big event because I practice or ski as much for any big event. I try to ski as many days I can and think outside the box to try to learn new tricks and other creative ways to hit the course. So, I treated it like any other contest.
Q: Indiana isn’t known as a skiing hotspot, how tough was it to get your career started?
A: Growing up in Indiana was the best thing for me, it humbled me and gave me greater appreciation for the bigger mountains and the skiing world that existed outside of the Midwest. It made me more hungry and more determined to make it to the level that I am at because I didn’t have as many privileges and opportunities that I would have if I lived in Colorado or California where the ski industry is much more present.
Q: Where did you start?
A: I started at Perfect North. I skied there since I was five years old. I did my first back flip when I was eleven years old. I made my dad drag me around different contests regionally in the Midwest. We drove around to different contests until I was 15 and then I moved out to Portland, Oregon and went to a school out there.
Q: How big was the move out west for your career?
A: When I moved out west I think I saw an improvement because that is when I met my coach, Mike Hanley, which really benefited me a lot. I thought he was crazy and didn’t know what he was talking about, I thought I did everything right, but then I got there and he said ‘you’re doing this wrong and that wrong’.
Q: How long have you been sponsored by Red Bull?
A: I have been a Red Bull athlete for a year and a half now. They signed me this past October (Fall 2012). It was the year after I had gotten my first podium at X games in Aspen. They saw potential in me and I was so ecstatic to gain a sponsor with Red Bull because they are one of the most supportive action sports companies out there. They can open up a lot of doors.
Q: What is the next step for your career?
A: I want to go to a couple more Olympics and keep competing in the X games. I want to focus on more of creative skiing and make some sweet videos.
Q: What is your life span as a skier?
A: With my sport, most guys teeter out mid to late 20s, but I want to take it into my 30s.
Q: Any final thoughts about your career thus far?
A: I do it because I love it and I am passionate about it.