2018 Winter Olympics: Goepper goes for gold
Nick Goepper is a young man seeking balance.
As a member of the U.S. freeskiing team vying this week at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea (which airs on NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC, USA Network, NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app), the 23-year-old native of Lawrenceburg, Ind., is ever cognizant of the need to stay in top condition and competition-ready, but also knows that there is such a thing as overdoing it. As he has done before.
“I skied every single month of the year last year,” he says, “and I got to a point where I think I was beating myself up. I was tired, my body was worn out, I was worn out mentally. But I think you have to make a mature decision to purposely take time off. Even though you might feel great and really want to go skiing, but having the time off, it kind of gives you a mental edge, because you’re just fired up to go back skiing when you do. And it also gives your body a nice rest.”
This week, however, he’ll be coming off arguably the second-biggest event of his season – the Jan. 25-28 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo. – when he competes in slopestyle in South Korea. Having won the bronze medal in that event four years ago in Sochi, Russia, he feels confident in his ability to move up on the podium and take gold.
But he knows there will be literal and figurative mountains to climb. He’ll be competing against the best of the best, vying with an accomplished field that includes U.S. teammate Gus Kenworthy (the silver medalist in Sochi in 2014), Norway’s Oystein Braaten (the X Games gold medalist in 2017), Sweden’s Henrik Harlaut (silver medal at the 2013 X Games) and newcomer Andri Ragettli of Switzerland.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) January 30, 2018
“I like to set expectations for myself but not unrealistic ones,” Goepper says, “and I think that’s something that I’ve learned over the years, is to be realistic with expectations that you place on yourself. I think it is important to do, because that’s how you push yourself and strive to compete and reach your goals. But I think it’s important to not shoot too high because then you risk feeling like a failure all the time, personally. So I think it’s important to set expectations, but realistic ones.”
The well-spoken, well-grounded Goepper is also careful to not get caught up in the celebrity that comes with being an Olympic athlete. After winning bronze four years ago, he took to Twitter to court country artist Taylor Swift on Valentine’s Day and was even photographed with her at the Golden Globe Awards that year, but nothing came of it. This year, his focus is trained firmly on skiing, as that is his first love and it’s what has gotten him to this point in his life.
“It’s something that I’ve loved since I was 10 years old and it has brought a lot of cool, positive things to my life,” he says. “I love to challenge myself and work hard, and skiing is something that I really enjoy doing that in. And it also is very rewarding, too, when you do push yourself and work hard, and skiing gives me an outlet to do that. And also I’ve got so many great friends that do this, and just to experience doing flips on massive jumps and traveling the world and sharing it with not too many people is just a cool experience.”