Joss Christensen adds X Games medal to collection
January 30, 2015
A little over a year ago, Joss Christensen won a U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix slopestyle event at Park City Mountain Resort. That victory led to him being selected for the U.S. Olympic Team that was heading to Sochi, Russia, where we all know he won a gold medal in the inaugural Olympic ski slopestyle competition.
But, even after his whirlwind season last year and his Olympic success, Christensen still felt like something was missing from his collection — an X Games medal.
"I’ve been in six X Games and hadn’t done better than like sixth place," he said. "An X Games medal is what was missing in my trophy room. X Games is kind of the biggest in our eyes. I felt I needed to prove myself there. It’s the pinnacle of our year."
So in Aspen, Colorado, last weekend, the native Parkite took to the slopestyle course on a mission to snag that first medal.
That’s exactly what he did. After making it through qualifying, Christensen competed in the finals, where his top score of 90.66 was good enough for a silver medal. He said these past 12 months have been a whirlwind journey he could have never imagined would happen to him.
"To think back to just a little over a year ago before that last Grand Prix in Park City, it’s insane how much everything has changed and I can’t believe how much I’ve been able to accomplish," he said. "A year ago, I was just this kid that looked up to all these other skiers and just did my best and tried to live up to them. This has been a dream come true."
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Though an X Games gold medal is still undoubtedly on Christensen’s wish list, he said he was glad to share the podium with winner Nick Goepper, who took bronze in Team USA’s sweep of the Olympic slopestyle podium in February.
"Nick had won the last two X Games," he said. "He’s been the skier everyone has been shooting to beat. It’s always a goal to try and beat him, but it’s a friendly goal, of course."
Goepper wasn’t even supposed to be in the finals, having qualified in ninth place while only the top eight make it to the final round. But, because of an injury to Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, Goepper was bumped up to eighth and led off the finals with an incredible run that netted him a score of 93.66.
Though Christensen was happy for his friend, he said he was nervous when he found out Goepper would be competing in the finals.
"I thought [Goepper not being in the finals] gave me a huge advantage to do better," he said. "In the end, though, Nick proved he had the best run. I’m super excited to have finished second to him."
Christensen also recently added another trophy to his collection — the 2014 Skier of the Year Riders’ Choice Award — courtesy of Freeskier Magazine. Christensen said this award is special because it signified how well he is respected among his peers.
"It was pretty crazy to know that all my fellow skiers I’ve looked up to voted for me," he said. "That’s probably one of the awards I’m most proud of in my career. It was just huge to me."
With the Dew Tour and X Games over for the season, Christensen has just a few events left on his winter schedule. In a couple days, he’ll head to Mammoth in California for a Grand Prix event. Then, he’ll compete in a unique event, also in California.
"There’s this big Air & Style competition that’s been only snowboarding for the last 20 years," he said. "This year, they decided to let skiing in. Shaun White puts it on. It’s going to be a stadium big-air jump in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl. I’m really, really excited for that."
A ski competition in Southern California sounds like it would be hard to put together, but Christensen explains the logistics behind it.
"I’ve done a few of these kinds of competitions before," he said. "They make these tents and bring the temperature down low in these tents and make ice and shave it down and make snow. They make a jump out of scaffolding and it’s going to be 16 stories high."
After the Rose Bowl, Christensen will head home, back to where it all started, to compete in this year’s Grand Prix at PCMR at the end of February.
"I love having contests in Park City," he said. "Last year was really the first major contest I did at home. Knowing all my friends and family are watching and having it in my home park, it gives me a lot of confidence."
The 2015 Sprint U.S. Snowboarding and Freeskiing Grand Prix starts on Friday, Feb. 21, and runs until Sunday, March 1, at Park City Mountain Resort.