Slopestyle primed to seize golden chance

Wed Feb 5, 2014 10:11am EST
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By Philip O'Connor

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Slopestyle skiers are planning to grab the chance to be part of the Sochi Olympics with both hands as their sport is included in the Games for the first time.

"Now it (the Olympics) is the pinnacle," favorite Nick Goepper told reporters following his practice runs on the Rosa Khutor course on Wednesday.

"Before this, the X-Games was the Olympics of our sport. Now we have this amazing opportunity for the top athletes to come to the Olympics and showcase our sport for the masses.

"We control our image and the way our sport looks to everybody. It's kinda cool to have that opportunity."

With its roots firmly in the freestyle subculture, a huge global TV audience will now be exposed to slopestyle, but Goepper said the Olympics alone was not a good enough reason to take the sport up.

"It's probably the wrong reason to get into sport, so that you can go to the Olympics," the 19-year-old Indiana native said.

"I would do it because it's fun and you enjoy it, so hopefully it will get a lot more young kids into it. It's an opportunity to have a lot of fun and progress yourself, but you can also compete and go to big contests like the Olympics."

Having pulled off a triple-cork to win the X-Games, Goepper is the favorite for the inaugural slopestyle gold medal, but competition is intense - not least from his own team mates.   Continued...

Olympic slopestyle freestyle skier Nick Goepper poses for a portrait during the 2013 U.S. Olympic Team Media Summit in Park City, Utah October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson