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Olympic Medalist Nick Goepper Back Home Again in Indiana
The bronze-clinching slopestyle skier stops by IM to chat about dating, growing up in the Midwest, and what’s next for him.
The Sochi Olympics may have ended weeks ago, but freestyle skiing bronze medalist Nick Goepper is still enjoying the ride. The 19-year-old Lawrenceburg native—and apparently budding lothario—put out the call for a lady friend on Twitter last month (#IWantToDateNick), triggering an avalanche of videos from hopefuls. He stopped by our office to tell us about the results and his plans for the future.
How did you pick the winner of your #IWantToDateNick contest?
One of the first videos I received was from Annie Rogers of Akron, Ohio. It was creative. It was funny. It was just an overall solid hit. She wrote a new version of the Jason Mraz song “I’m Yours.” That was the one I thought was most heartfelt.
We noticed that she included outtakes at the end of her video. Did that help her cause?
Yeah, it did. It showed me that she was having a good time and not being too serious about the whole thing. She was also making fun of herself, which is something I like to do.
Do you know yet what the two of you are going to do on your date?
I have some ideas. We’ll go to New York City and see a basketball game. We’ll go to dinner. Maybe even the zoo. We’ll see. One thing we won’t do is ski. You can’t really do that in NYC.
NYC is a great place to take a date, but if you were taking Annie somewhere in Indiana, where would it be?
I’d probably take her to Lawrenceburg. I have a lot of good friends and family there who would help me out. I could have her over for dinner at my house.
You’ve said in interviews that you love when you’re introduced as being from Lawrenceburg. Why is it important for you to identify with Indiana?
I really want people to know how my story started and the values and hard work that I embody. A lot of my friends are from these amazing mountain towns. I want people to know that where I come from, it’s different. I hope it says something about my character.
We’ve heard plenty about the disadvantages you had growing up in Indiana, but what were some of the advantages you had over people out west?
Growing up where I did near Perfect North, I skied more than anyone could ever hope to, even though the season is only three months long. At Breckenridge, you might have to wait 20 minutes in a lift line to get one run in at a terrain park. You might only get 15 runs in in a whole day. But at Perfect North, you could do 15 runs in a half-hour. There were never really any crowds, and they had night skiing, so I could come after school. I have more fun skiing there than I do anywhere else. Seriously.
Was it a culture shock for you skiing outside of the Midwest?
Yeah, for sure. I was young and naive when I moved to Oregon [at age 15]. It was really eye-opening to ski on Mount Hood compared to Perfect North. It was a real mountain experience.
What’s going through your mind on a run?
I’m always really aware of my body. I think about what I’m about to hit and how I can do it safely. Obviously, what we do is pretty dangerous, so I’m really focused on having the right speed for a jump and the course conditions. But more importantly, I’m thinking about having fun.
Was it a letdown for you to get bronze at the Olympics after having won the gold at the X Games two years in a row?
Yes, it was. But I think anytime you get bronze, it makes you stronger. At the end of the day, I have to think about what an awesome opportunity it was to be in Sochi. There were only 40 or so Americans out of the entire population of our country to get a medal at these games, so I felt fortunate to be part of that group.
How are you going to bide your time until the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang?
I want to do some philanthropic work—I’ve been speaking at local elementary schools, trying to get kids inspired. But obviously, I want to keep the ball rolling with skiing.
What do you say to kids from Indiana who want to become the next Hoosier Olympic skier?
Whether it’s skiing, football, politics, or whatever you’re interested in, you’ll know it’s your calling if you want to do it 24/7. The hardest thing to get over is people telling you “No, you can’t do it, it’s not possible.” I just kind of laugh at that. It’s important to remember that no matter how much you have going against you, you can do anything you want.