Nick Goepper took bronze in the Sochi Olympics in men’s slopestyle in 2014, but later admitted to contemplating suicide after the Games.
But on Sunday, Goepper was back in an Olympic final, this time taking silver in the same slopestyle event with a brilliant final run that vaulted him from near the bottom of the standings all the way to the podium.
Goepper had topped out at a 69 in his first two runs, but nailed every hit on his third, thrusting his arms into the air after landing a massive 1440 — four times around, for those without a calculator — earning a 93.6. Only Norway’s Oystein Braaten’s brilliant 95 scored on Run No. 1 was better.
Canada’s Alex Beaulieu-Marchand took bronze.
American Gus Kenworthy, who took the silver in the Sochi games, failed to medal.
In a gut-wrenching, yet honest assessment of his past four years, Geopper told USA Today that after the high of winning a medal at Sochi wore off, he found himself in a dark place. He was drinking heavily and considering ending his life.
“I started to really question myself and my motives, having these crazy existential questions like why am I doing this?” he told USA Today. “What is the point?”
He went to rehab, and now says he hasn’t had a drink since 2015.
Going into these Games, Goepper was the lesser known of the American men competing in slopestyle, with Kenworthy grabbing most of the headlines. But on Sunday, it was the 23-year-old from Fort Wayne, Indiana, who shook off mistakes in his first two passes to lay down the run of his life — one that earned him Olympic silver in PyeongChang.
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• Mikaela Shiffrin pours heart out on social media
• The story behind the famous Olympic escalator stunt
• Ester Ledecka celebrates surprise gold medal with trip to KFC
• Swiss father bikes 10,000 miles to watch son ski in Olympics