The U.S. team took all three medals in new daredevil event, slopestyle skiing, following the two medals won by American female snowboarders the previous night.
In conditions better suited for a spring break in the mountains than the Winter Olympics Joss Christensen was the best getting the gold medal with a run that scored 95.80. Gus Kenworthy, a friend of Christensen’s since childhood, won silver, scoring 93.60, and Nick Goepper, the winner of the slopestyle event at the X Games the last two years, won bronze, scoring 92.40.
“I am shocked,” Christensen said. “I am stoked to be up here with my friends. America, we did it.”
As USA Today reports, Christensen, a discretionary pick on the U.S. team, posted the highest score on his first run in finals, landing a switch triple 1440 jump, a trick he only learned and then decided to insert into his run two days ago during practice.
“I knew once I learned it I had to put it in my run if I wanted a chance to make it on the podium,” Christensen said.
Christensen, a 22-year-old born in Salt Lake City, was considered “on the bubble” of making the team, his coach said.
“It was definitely an honor to make the team,” said Christensen, who skied the two highest runs of the day. “I just wanted to show everyone that they made a good choice.”
The United States previously won all three medals at the 2002 men’s halfpipe snowboard competition and in 1956 in men’s individual figure skating singles.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Skogen Sprang, the American freeskiing slopestyle coach. “I’m still kind of in shock.”
After one week of competition at the Sochi Games, more than a half of the United States’ 12 medals – and all four golds – have been won at the extreme park in sports the Americans invented.
“It’s crazy,” Goepper said. “I think it’s going to give the U.S. a lot more confidence and it’s going to get a lot of people really excited.”
While the U.S. has struggled elsewhere in Sochi, 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, says CBSNews.
Meanwhile, the head of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, said he is not worried about the unseasonably warm temperatures that have been melting snow and ice in and around Sochi.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Bach, recalled even warmer conditions at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary.
“It’s not as warm yet as it was in Calgary at the time, where I remembered going around the last days of the Games in a T-shirt. It was about 25 degrees Celsius, so the situation so far is under control. The organizing committee together with the international federations is working very, very hard. There is still storage of snow and so far it is going well,” he said.
There are 98 medal events at the Sochi Games, 12 more than in Vancouver in 2010.