United States Sweeps Slopestyle Skiing Podium At Sochi

The United States, led by Joss Christensen, had an impressive sweep in the slopestyle skiing event at the Sochi Winter Games on Thursday, which puts them in second place in the medal standings with 12 overall.

In what has been a couple of disappointing days for the Americans, which saw some of the biggest names fail to reach the podium following Shaun White’s fourth place in the halfpipe, Shani Davis’ poor showing in speed skating, and feisty Julia Mancuso out of medal contention in downhill skiing, the three medals are welcome news for Team USA.

In the first-ever slopestyle skiing at a Winter Olympics, Joss Christensen scored a 95.80 to lead the first run ahead of fellow Americans Gus Kenworthy who got 93.60, and Nick Goepper with 92.40.

The United States slopstlye skiers were unmatched by the rest of the competition with their incredible aerial tricks. Their closest competitor was Norway’s Andreas Haatveit, who missed out on a medal by six-tenths of a point, and fifth-placed Brit James Woods, who suffered from a hip injury.

As in snowboarding, slopestyle skiing has athletes sliding off rails and facing an obstacle course which propels them to heights on which they can do their tricks. Judges see two runs and evaluate the performance on form.

The first time the United States has competed in the sport, which has a massive young following at the X Games, one of the reasons it was selected to become a new Olympic games event at Sochi.

As with many of the other snow events at the massive Rosa Khutor skiing complex built for the Sochi Olympics, organizers were hard at work salting the course, which has become slushy due to unusually mild conditions.

Joss Christensen’s victory was a surprise, since the 22-year-old from Utah has not won a major event since 2011.

The United States has won three of the four gold medals in contention at Sochi, after Sage Kotsenburg and Jamie Anderson took the top spot in the snowboarding slopestyle event and Devin Logan won the gold for the women’s ski slopestyle.

According to the United States Olympic Committee, this is only the third time in history that the Americans have swept the podium at a Winter Games. It happened at the 1995 Olympics in men’s figure skating in Cortina, Italy, and at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games in the snowboarding halfpipe event.

[Image Via sochi2014.com]