Oystein Braaten prevails in men's slopestyle
PyeongChang (KOR) - Slopestyle skier Oystein Braaten (NOR) landed the best run of his life to win gold at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games on Sunday but had to watch his rivals throw down trick after trick before he was sure of topping the podium.
The 22-year-old took pole position by top-scoring 95.00 in his first run, but needed to wait a further two thrilling runs until he knew it was good enough to beat silver medallist Nick Goepper (USA) and bronze medallist Alex Beaulieu-Marchand (CAN).
"Landing my best run that I've ever done, in my first run, I was speechless," Braaten said. "There were some really, really good riders and I wasn't feeling safe at all. There was a crazy level, for sure."
Braaten became the third Norwegian skier, male or female, after Kari Traa (2002) and Stine Hattestad (1994) in the ladies' moguls, to win gold in freestyle skiing.
Sochi 2014 bronze medallist Goepper said he was inspired by the level of competition on display during qualifications and the final at Phoenix Snow Park.
"It was such a pleasure to be a part of the best slopestyle skiing competition in history," the 23-year-old said. "Qualification was just mind-blowing, and the final was two times that. I'm an athlete first, but I'm a super-fan second. I could watch this stuff all day long."
Silver medallist Nick Goepper became the first skier (man or woman) to win multiple Olympic medals in the slopestyle as he took bronze at Sochi 2014. He equalled moguls skiers Hannah Kearney and Shannon Bahrke on a record two medals in freestyle skiing among USA athletes.
Goepper took silver after scoring 93.60 in his last run, while Canadian Beaulieu-Marchand took the last podium spot with a second-run score of 92.40.
The Canadian was the only skier out of 12 finalists who managed to land all three of his runs, scoring 81.60 in his first run and 82.40 in his last.
"Today was just an incredible contest for ski slopestyle," Beaulieu-Marchand said. "Just to show to the world what our sport is, is my main goal.Hopefully we inspire a new generation to come have fun with us on the slopes."
Beaulieu-Marchand's bronze consigned his friend James Woods (GBR) to fourth position despite Woods impressing spectators with a big finish in his third run.
"An incredible last jump from Woodsy," the Canadian said. "Woodsy's style is just incredible. I'm definitely feeling happy to be here, but a little bit bummed for him and other skiers, too, who were throwing it out there."
Bronze medallist Beaulieu-Marchand gave Canada its first medal in the men's slopestyle in freestyle skiing. Canada now only lacks a medal in the ski cross in men's events in this sport.