The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

February 13, 2014

In rare winter sweep, US rules Olympic slopestyle

— SOCHI, Russia (AP) — For only the third time in Winter Games history, the United States swept the podium, capturing the top three spots Thursday in slopestyle skiing's Olympic debut to revive the country's showing in Sochi.

Joss Christensen, a 22-year-old making his first appearance on the Olympic stage, won the gold in a dominating performance that featured four near-perfect runs over the rails and jumps at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. The last skier selected for the U.S. slopestyle team, Christensen posted the top two scores in both the qualifying runs and the finals.

"I am shocked," Christensen said. "I am stoked to be up here with my friends. America, we did it."

Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper captured the silver and bronze, as the U.S. skiers matched the country's previous sweeps in men's figure skating in 1956 and men's halfpipe snowboarding in 2002.

"It's the kind of thing you don't even let yourself think about," U.S. coach Skogen Sprang said. "I still don't believe it happened."

The sweep provided a boost for an American team that had seen many of its biggest stars — from Shaun White to Bodie Miller to Shani Davis — wipe out in the first six days of the games.

The U.S. team now has won four golds, all on the slopes of the Extreme Park. The three medals pushed the U.S. total to 12, and put the Americans back in the running to repeat its 2010 performance as the games' overall medal winner.

Five other sports awarded medals on Day 7 of the Olympics: cross-country skiing, biathlon, speedskating, short-track speedskating and luge. Preliminary rounds in men's hockey also got underway Thursday, with Finland topping Austria 8-4 in the opener.

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