Goepper skis to slopestyle silver in Pyeongchang

Nick Goepper, of the United States, jumps during the mens slopestyle final at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)PlayThe Associated Press
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It took Nick Goepper three tries at his second Olympics to win his first silver medal -- and it was nearly his first gold.

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The American scored a 93.60 on his third slopestyle attempt in Pyeongchang, finishing behind Norway's Oystein Braaten, who took gold at 95.00, and ahead of Canada's Alex Beaulieu-Marchand, who took bronze at 92.40.

"I came to this Olympics wanting a different color, wanting the gold, but coming away with the silver is so thrilling,” he told ABC News. "I couldn't be more stoked."

Goepper uncharacteristically fell on his first two runs, at which point, "Honestly, I was biting my tongue," he said. "I was just thrilled to land my third run. It was one of the most intense, crazy slopestyle competitions I have ever been a part of."

The event was introduced at the 2014 games in Sochi, with the U.S. men winning all three medals, including Goepper's bronze.

After his initial Olympic success, Goepper said he "had no plan" and was constantly partying. He sought out and received treatment to stop drinking alcohol and hasn't had a drink in two-and-a-half years.

"Drinking was a symptom of the problem, and unfortunately that symptom got pretty bad at one point," he said. "But I was able to go to a treatment center and figure myself out."

Goepper said he's also has battled depression and at least once contemplated taking his own life.

Several years ago in Park City, Utah, he said, "there came a time where I had pretty much given up on skiing altogether, and had given up on myself and basically wanted to end it." He said he drove to where another Olympic skier, Jaret Peterson had committed suicide "and just sat there, contemplating it myself in my car."

Goepper had met Peterson once.

"Sometimes it's tough," Goepper added. "Sometimes the going gets tough, and you've got to keep pursuing, keep believing. To come away with a silver and my second Olympic medal is a dream come true. I'm super proud to just be where I am today."

With a solid support network in place, "my family, my girlfriend and close friends," Goepper said, it will be easier to stay humble and focused on his goals.

"I just love skiing and competing," he said. "I'm looking forward to Beijing in 2022."

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