Alex Schlopy and Joss Christensen golden in Park City
January 22, 2014
Alex Schlopy and Joss Christensen grew up together on the slopes of Park City.
Since the sixth grade, they’ve had a friendly ‘Anything you can do, I can do better’ style of competition between them.
Now, the two friends have ridden that competition all the way to the top of the sport of slopestyle skiing.
On Friday and Saturday at Park City Mountain Resort, Schlopy and Christensen were back at it again, battling for bragging rights at the U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix.
After Schlopy took home a gold medal on Friday afternoon, Christensen came out Saturday and landed a huge run, claiming a gold medal of his own.
Christensen said he and Schlopy are each other’s biggest fans.
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"When we see each other put a good run down, we’re like, ‘Aww, that’s so awesome!’" he said. "We’re super stoked for each other, but in the back of our heads, we’re competitive. I love seeing him do well and I’m so happy for him."
"It’s so awesome," Schlopy added. "I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. He’s worked so hard and skied so well. I’m so happy for him."
Schlopy’s run on Friday earned him a score of 92.20 and featured a huge 1620 four and a half spins.
"I was able to land the 1620," Schlopy said. "I hadn’t done that in a while."
Being at home for a competition led to a few relaxed runs and free-flowing tricks, Christensen, who had run scores of 95.20 and 96.20 on Saturday, said.
"Just being able to sleep in my own bed, go to the [Center of Excellence] here, drink my coffee, have my car and everything has made me feel so relaxed coming into these events," he said. "I couldn’t have asked for a better place."
And having his family come out en masse to support him didn’t hurt, either.
"My cousin made a cool ‘Go Joss’ sign," Christensen said. "I’ve never had a sign for me before I was flattered by that. My uncle came out from California to watch. I think I had almost 10 family members out here to watch when the most I’d ever had is my mom. It just gives me so much more confidence knowing that they’re down at the bottom watching me and cheering me on gotta make them proud."
His family members must have been happy they got to see one of the best moments of Christensen’s young career.
"I’m pretty speechless," he said after accepting his gold pickaxe trophy. "I woke up this morning and knew if I wanted to go to Sochi, I had to win today. That was in the back of my mind all day I’ve never actually won a big event until today."
According to his competitors, Christensen definitely deserved first place.
"Joss Christensen put down one of the best runs I’ve ever seen in slopestyle and it’s an honor to be on [the podium] with him," said Gus Kenworthy, who finished second on Saturday and third on Friday.
Bobby Brown took second place on Friday and third place on Saturday.
Unfortunately, the two friends and Park City residents now face a waiting game. Nick Goepper, Brown and Kenworthy claimed the top three slopestyle spots on the U.S. Olympic Freeskiing Team. Schlopy and Christensen, along with Tom Wallisch and others, must wait to see who will be awarded Team USA’s fourth, discretionary spot.
"It’s pretty nerve-wracking right now," Christensen admitted. "No matter what, I’ll be happy with the outcome. Alex deserves it, and of course I want it, but I wouldn’t be too bummed out if I didn’t get it."
"Either way, I’d be so stoked," Schlopy added. "It’s just crazy how it’s come down to this."
On the women’s side, Devin Logan won Friday morning’s competition, with Canadians Dara Howell and Kaya Turski finishing second and third, respectively. In Saturday’s competition, Julia Krass won the gold medal, beating second-place Keri Herman and Howell, who finished third.
U.S. Slopestyle Olympic Team