Joss Christensen made history on February 13, 2014 when he won the first-ever gold medal for men’s Olympic slopestyle skiing. What makes the win even sweeter is that Christensen was an underdog going into the Olympics, having been nominated to the team by coaches’ discretion.
Christensen had a rough start to the 2013-2014 Olympic qualifying season and wasn’t landing the podiums needed to earn his Olympic spot through objective criteria. When it came to the last qualifying event in Park City, his hometown, he knew he had to step it up. After throwing down one of the smoothest runs the judges had ever seen, Christensen won the final qualifying event. Later that week, the coaches awarded him the coveted discretionary spot on the inaugural U.S. Olympic Slopestyle Team.
At the Olympics, under sunny Sochi skies and spring-like conditions, Christensen had the best day of skiing of his life. He threw down two unbeatable runs in qualifiers and then went on to dominate finals with another two unbeatable runs. His last run, a victory lap, included a switch triple 1260 japan, a trick he had only learned earlier in the week during practice. Christensen, 22, led fellow Americans Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper in a podium sweep, marking only the third time in Olympic Winter Games history that the U.S. swept a medal event.
A Park City local, Christensen picked up slopestyle and halfpipe skiing by living next door to the best park features in the world. With his well-rounded bag of tricks and clean style, Christensen achieved eight podiums in the 2012 season–notably the Visa U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix, the Aspen/Snowmass Open and AFP World Championships. After battling a knee injury in late 2012, Christensen was able to take third at The Dumont Cup and place fifth in the AFP Overall World Ranking before launching into his historic Olympic season.