Utah athletes held memorable races to cap off their Olympic experience in Beijing
Zhangjiakou • If the slopestyle course at Genting Snow Park was a canvas, Alex Hall was Picasso.
Using his own form of expressionism, the Park City skier won Olympic gold in men’s slopestyle, the first individual gold medal for the US freeski team at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
His friend and fellow Parkite Nick Goepper won the silver medal, giving him two silver and one bronze medals in his career and placing him on the podium at every Olympics he has entered. Jesper Tjader of Sweden, also competing in his third Olympic Games, won the bronze medal.
Park City’s third athlete in the contest, Colby Stevenson, placed seventh a week after taking silver in the big air.
Hall said it wasn’t exactly morning, and he and the other competitors were facing temperatures of around minus 7 degrees, despite the bright sunshine. Still, he started with what he called “hands down the best run I’ve ever done” and set the bar high with a score of 90.01. In this race, there were several tricks that he said he had learned only recently. They included a nosebutter with a knuckle hit on his second jump and, at the end, a 900 pretzel – which required him to stop a spin mid-turn and reverse it in the opposite direction.
Hall let out a delighted cry at the end of the race, then buried his head in the crash pads in disbelief.
“You want to win a gold medal, but part of the love of it all is just doing whatever you want to do there as much as trying to win 100%,” Hall said. “I mean, that’s why we all ski, it’s because of the freedom and creativity that’s allowed to us.
“And definitely when you’re competing it’s easy to try to fit the mold in a certain way. And that’s why I think this win is the most special way of my career, because I have did exactly what I wanted to do. Didn’t do anything for the judges. I did what I thought was the most fun on the course, and I’m glad it put me first.
Hall, 23, came into the event as a formidable competitor with a World Cup ranking of No. 2 in slopestyle and big air.
Goepper, who at 29 is the oldest slopestyle athlete to win an Olympic medal, was also honored for letting his creativity shine. He was one of the few, along with Stevenson, to ride a rail through something built like a Buddhist temple.
“I know some of my big tricks aren’t up to snuff, especially compared to [big air gold medalist] Birk Ruud or Alex Hall,” Goepper said. “So I think I had to part ways in another way.”
The event is the last of these Olympics for slopestyle skiers.