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Christensen leads US sweep in slopestyle skiing

U.S. Men Sweep Podium In Slopestyle Skiing


KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) - The U.S. has swept the podium in men's slopestyle skiing.

Joss Christensen soared to gold in the sport's Olympic debut, posting a score of 95.80 on Thursday to beat teammates Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper.

The gold was the fourth for the U.S. in Sochi, all won on the slopes of the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

"I am shocked," Christensen said. "I am stoked to be up here with my friends. America, we did it."

In conditions better suited for a spring break in the mountains than the Winter Olympics, the 22-year-old Christensen was by far the best. Each of his four runs scored in the 90s. His first run in the finals won the gold, and his second would have been good enough to win silver.

The sweep is the third for the U.S. in Winter Olympic history, joining men's figure skating in 1956 and men's halfpipe snowboarding in 2002.

"It's the kind of thing you don't even let yourself think about," U.S. coach Skogen Sprang said. "I still don't believe it happened."

While the U.S. has struggled elsewhere in the Sochi Games, things are just fine at the Extreme Park, which was so warm on Thursday that American Bobby Brown, who finished ninth, completed his final run in short sleeves.

The three medals gave the U.S. five in the span of 15 hours. Snowboarders Kaitlyn Farrington and Kelly Clark took gold and bronze in the women's halfpipe on Wednesday night.

Christensen, from Park City, Utah, hardly seemed intimidated as his sport was thrust into the mainstream for the first time. The final skier named to the U.S. slopestyle team, he threw down four practically flawless runs over the series of rails and jumps that are the equivalent of a skier's playground.

He led qualifying and insisted he had plenty left for the finals.

Christensen's three off-axis jumps at the end of his first qualifying run totaled 10 full spins in the span of 15 seconds - all coming while he skied over the ramp backward.

The rest of the 12-skier field took aim in the second run of the finals, but none could top the kid with the floppy blonde hair and easy smile that seems to embody a sport that often looks like it's just a bunch of skiers taking turns showing off.

Kenworthy, from Telluride, Colo., was already planning to head back home with at least one of the stray dogs that call the streets of Sochi home. Now they'll have some company - a silver medal. He raised his arms over his head after his second finals run and busted out laughing when his score of 93.60 was revealed.

Goepper, the gold medal favorite from Lawrenceburg, Ind., dropped a 92.40 during his first finals run but couldn't top it in the second as the pressure mounted. He smacked his skis against the second rail feature, ending his chance of leapfrogging Christensen.

"I feel amazing," Goepper said. "I think today was the best display of skiing we have ever seen in our sport, so I am so happy."

Only Norway's Andreas Haatveit could break the U.S.'s grip on the podium. While his last trip was slick, he seemed to know he would come up short he crossed the finish line. Haatveit put his hands together as if to pray, then shrugged and gave the Americans a push when he ended up fourth.

With gold assured, Christensen put on one last show instead of taking a simple victory stroll down the mountain. Twisting and flipping his way to his teammates, he pumped his arms in celebration. When his score - immaterial as far as the medals go, but still the second-highest of the day - was posted, Goepper and Kenworthy hoisted him on their shoulders.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
eeodjo February 13 2014 at 12:35 PM

All I can say is, you cannot keep a good Olympian athlete down. In the case of Mr. Abbott, a USA figure skater, who fell doing the triple axle, hurt his right side, struggled to get himself up, reaching for the top of a wall to get up just so he can keep the show going. He kept the show going, finished it, and after the program all the different country fans gave him an outstanding applause. How is that for a good sport and a skater? GO USA!!!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
tmspitrow February 13 2014 at 11:14 AM

WELL DONE,YOUNG MEN.
AMERICA RESPECTS YOU ALL.
THANKS

Flag Reply +7 rate up
Hello Joe February 13 2014 at 11:00 AM

USA USA USA USA

Flag Reply +6 rate up
vafilec_39 February 13 2014 at 9:29 AM

I would say that those youngsters deserve to express themselves. Maybe the middle finger would have suited you better. Thank you boys for sweeping & making USA a household name in those foreign countries.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
Thomas February 13 2014 at 9:23 AM

Doesn't appear to be humility in the youth these days. I understand exuberance, but the exhibitions and displays that todays young people flash appear to me to be a lack of manners or perhaps a desire to be more gross than their peers. Even my young daughter can't stand Miley Cyrus any more.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
mrj8gd Thomas February 13 2014 at 9:35 AM

It was a quick photo for the moment, not a style like the moron Cyrus, tell you what you work your butt off and win gold in an event lets see your reaction in that moment

Flag Reply +10 rate up
delslr February 13 2014 at 8:35 AM

What is with people sticking out their tongues. Just rude.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
mary delslr February 13 2014 at 11:30 AM

if you can't appreciate a spontaneous joyful response then you are a sad sack.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
dd1820 February 13 2014 at 8:57 AM

Put your flapper back in your mouth dipstick......................

Flag Reply +6 rate up
3 replies
fap29 February 13 2014 at 9:20 AM

great for the USA, but geez the tongue? have some class.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
eaglefoundation February 13 2014 at 9:36 AM

He just looks estatic. I think he might like Miley Cyrus too; although his tongue looks a lot heathier than hers.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
josefanning February 13 2014 at 11:04 AM

Who cares. People I see on tv don't look or feel or livie anything like me ,the hobo in the gutter might be the only person whom is really free.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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