Nick Goepper Takes First in Men’s Freeski Slopestyle Qualifier

The Men’s Freeski Slopestyle Qualifier was the third of many slopestyle events to take place this week at the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado. The event took place under clear, sunny skies with no wind on Breck’s top-notch course.

The qualifier consisted of 30 freeskiers each taking two complete runs down the course, with only the best score counting. The 16 highest-scoring athletes are moving on to the final on Sunday at 12pm ET / 9am PT. You’ll be able to watch the live stream right here on dewtour.com or live on NBC.

Coming into the event, the men’s slopestyle field was one of the deepest in all the Dew Tour events, with such studs as last year’s champ Russ Henshaw, podium fixture Tom Wallisch, heartthrob Nick Goeppertwo-sporter Gus Kenworthy, bubble athlete Alex Schlopy and the dreadlocked Henrik Harlaut.

“[The course] is super fun this year, I’m loving’ it,” said Henshaw, last year’s champion from the freeski slopestyle event. “It’s a perfect day. There’s sunshine, bluebird [skies] and no wind at all.”

Perfect conditions seemed to have eased the nerves of the American freeskiers looking to earn valuable USSA points in order to qualify for the first-ever U.S. freeski slopestyle team, and every athlete out there had nothing but good things to say about Dew Tour acting as an official selection event.

“It’s great to see that USSA was able to include the Dew Tour because it is certainly one of our biggest events of the year,” said Wallisch following his first run that temporarily landed him in third. “I would have hated to see this event not included.”

Nailing the top spot with his first run of the day, 19-year-old Goepper rode like a true veteran despite not holding his poles due to a lingering injury.

“This summer I broke my hand and had surgery on it, there is a screw in it right now. So, I have a brace on my hand and can’t really hold a pole.” 

Goepper didn’t seem phased. If anything, he was enthused with the slopestyle course and the fact that he has done well thus far, as he is on the hunt to earn a spot on the U.S. freeski slopestyle team.

“This is the best course Breck has ever built, and this event means a lot. I really hope I do well here because this is a U.S. selection event for the Olympics. So, yeah, I’m stoked!”.

Goepper’s overly technical run included a switch left 270 pretzel 270 out into a switch right 270 pretzel 270 out, then a left double Japan 1080 to a switch right double Japan, after that he went right 180 on to switch 540 off the chicken coop to a frontside switch up continuing to spin 270 off of the rainbow rail, then he threw a right double cork 1080 mute and finally ended his run with a left double 1080 tail grab — insane.

The qualifier also featured Gus Kenworthy’s first attempt at qualifying for finals in two disciplines – he’s also competing in halfpipe whose qualifier is Friday, under the lights, at 7pm ET. Watch it live here. Kenworthy fell on his first run, but came back in his second run, just barely finishing high enough to make his way to the final in the final 16th spot.

Results

1st Place – Nick Goepper
2nd Place – Russ Henshaw
3rd Place – Joss Christensen
4th Place – Oystein Braten
5th Place – Bobby Brown
6th Place – Alex Beaulieu-Marchand
7th Place – James Woods
8th Place – Robert Franco
9th Place – Tom Wallisch
10th Place – Alex Schlopy
11th Place – Sammy Carlson
12th Place – McRae Williams
13th Place – Antti Ollila
14th Place – Noah Wallace
15th Place – Kolby Ward
16th Place – Gus Kenworthy