American skier Alex Hall secured the gold medal with his first run in the freeski slopestyle event in Beijing, despite his opponents trying 30 more times and failing to outscore him.
The 23-year-old student from Salt Lake City, Utah, could not be beaten after he earned the top score on his first attempt and saw his rivals fail time after time to beat his initial mark of 90.01.
His next two scores didn’t matter, as he had topped the leaderboard and stayed there.
‘It’s definitely was the best slopestyle run I’ve ever done, mainly because it embodied everything I love about skiing and how I approach skiing and I didn’t fade away from that to try and maybe get bigger scores or something,’ Hall said after the event.
‘I just kept it true to myself, and I think that’s the most important part about our sport is just doing it for the love and doing it how you want to do it and not changing that.
American skier Alex Hall, 23, has secured the gold medal with his first run in the Freeski Slopestyle event in Beijing
The student from Salt Lake City, Utah, could not be beaten after he earned the top score on his first attempt
He saw his rivals fail time after time to beat his initial mark of 90.01
His next two scores didn’t matter, as he had topped the leaderboard and stayed there
‘It’s definitely was the best slopestyle run I’ve ever done, mainly because it embodied everything I love about skiing and how I approach skiing and I didn’t fade away from that to try and maybe get bigger scores or something,’ Hall said after the event
At the last Winter OIympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, Hall finished out of the medals and in 16th place.
Teammate Nicholas Goepper, 27 (left), of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, had to settle for silver with his best score of 86.48
The bronze medal went to Swede Jesper Tjader (right), whose best attempt on the slope was 85.35
‘Honestly I was really, really surprised I landed the first run. I had done some parts of the run, but definitely not the whole thing altogether.’
His U.S. teammate Nicholas Goepper, 27, of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, had to settle for silver with his best score of 86.48 while the bronze medal went to Swede Jesper Tjader, whose best attempt on the slope was 85.35.
American Colby Stevenson, 24, of Park City, Utah, finished seventh and congratulated his ‘buddies’ on the gold and silver.
Stevenson, 24, was happy to reach the Olympic slopes after a car accident in 2016 almost killed him and left him in a coma
He fractured his skull, ribs, an eye socket, jaw and neck and underwent two major surgeries, including one to put a titanium plate in his skull. Doctors didn’t know if he would walk out of the hospital, let alone ski.
After making his Olympic debut in Beijing, he said: ‘Just making the Olympic team was such an honor after everything I’ve been through with the car crash. It just seemed like stars had to align, and they definitely did.
‘We’re all really tight friends, which I love about free skiing, and it’s an honor to compete with them on the world stage and compete with them on such an amazing and kind of crazy course,’ Hall (right) said
The two Americans topped the podium and celebrate during the flower ceremony
‘I’m really happy with my skiing but, in the end, my buddy Alex, Nick and Jesper in third – like what an event, man!’
Hall said: ‘We’re all really tight friends, which I love about free skiing, and it’s an honor to compete with them on the world stage and compete with them on such an amazing and kind of crazy course.
Of his impressive first run, Hall said: ‘Especially with this course, how tough is how long those rails are? I was pretty surprised and really stoked and then definitely wasn’t sure if it was going to hold but I’m really stoked it did. I would have loved to put down an even better run and up those rails a little bit, but I’m glad it worked out.’
He said his last jump, which saw him land his lowest score of 31.41, was the most difficult.
‘That last jump was definitely maybe my hardest trick,’ Hall said.
‘It’s called right side double 1080 pretzel one, it’s a dub nine actually and I learned that this fall and I’ve been doing it a little bit, but it’s still a really, really hard trick for me just because it’s hard to judge the rotation and really tough when I don’t know my speed exactly and it’s been a little tough with wind this week.’
Hall grew up skiing in Switzerland because his parents Marcus and Elena were both professors at the University of Zurich. He got into freestyle skiing at the age of 11. He received his first team coach when he moved to the U.S. seven years ago.
He said he started freestyle skiing ‘for the fun of it and just messing around with my friends.’
Hall celebrates after his gold medal win in the men’s slopestyle finals
At the last Winter OIympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, he finished out of the medals and in 16th place.
He was careful not to talk about winning Olympic gold as his dream, but said he just aimed to enjoy the sport foremost.
‘When I was younger, I wanted to win the X Games gold medal and I finally did that two times.
‘So that was like my huge goal, so now I’m just gonna try to have fun with the competition and keep doing well but nothing specific, just have fun with it, that’s the most important part.’
But Hall has shown signs of superstition in the past, as he has been known to wear a lucky jumper while competing, which was a Christmas present from his mother.
Goepper, who won bronze at Sochi in 2014 and a silver in PyeongChang four years later, said after winning his third medal: ‘This is something I never dreamed of. If you told me as a 16-year-old that this is what would be happening right now, I would tell you that you were crazy.
Hall said he just aimed to enjoy the sport first and foremost, and not necessarily focus on a gold medal
Goepper (left) won bronze at Sochi in 2014 and a silver in PyeongChang four years later
‘I feel awesome. Life is good, I’m super grateful for everything that’s happened in the last couple of years. Life’s a roller coaster but to get another medal out of another Olympics it’s just a cool thing.’
He revealed that he had allowed anxiety to set in as he took to the slope today.
‘I was real nervous. I kind of messed up a little bit on the first rail on the first run.
‘On the second run, I nailed most of the run, there were a couple of bubbles. It wasn’t perfect, so I was surprised that it got that high of a score, but everyone was experiencing the Olympic jitters today and it was just a matter of putting one down, top to bottom.
When asked to explain his longevity in the sport, he said: ‘I wish I had a magic answer, but first of all, you’ve got to love it. And in times that you don’t love it, you’ve got to know that you’re eventually going to love it. Because that’s how you keep putting the work in, but it’s just continually grinding. That’s a cliché word.
‘We grind on the rails, but you’ve got to grind all the time and that’s how you do it.’
But he left a question mark over his sporting future when quizzed on whether he would continue his career, adding: ‘Ask me in the morning.’