HIDDEN VALLEY LAKE, Ind. - Imagine staying on a cruise ship docked in the Black Sea. Imagine watching your son or brother march in the opening ceremonies at the Olympic Games. Imagine seeing him win a bronze medal.
Nick Goepper's family did all that, but they're glad to be back home from their whirlwind week at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
It was a lot of fun - and a lot of stress, too.
Seeing 19-year-old Nick win a bronze medal was a thrill of a lifetime for Nick's parents, sisters Kasey and Bradee and brother Jason.
The whole Olympic experience – going to the opening ceremonies, skiing events and hockey games, and just soaking in the atmosphere and the mix of nations - was exhilarating.
But watching Nick try for a gold medal in slopestyle skiing was nerve-wracking, especially when he fell on his first jump.
For as many times as Nick has competed against the world's top freestyle skiers – and he won the last two Winter X Games – there was so much more pressure at the Olympics, his mother said.
"It's an entirely different situation. They had cameras all over him, microphones. It was pretty stressful," Linda Goepper said.
"He did say that to me afterward, he said, 'Man, it was pretty intense.'
"And I told him, 'You can never, ever do that again to me. Ever!" she laughed.
The family stayed on the cruise ship docked a few miles away and other times at the Procter & Gamble House with other athletes' families.
They didn't get to spend a lot of time with Nick because of his schedule, they said.
Kasey, 17, a senior at Lawrenceburg High School, blogged about her experience each day for the Indianapolis Star.
In one of her blog posts, Kasey talked about going to the opening ceremonies without her dad, Chris, because he gave his ticket to another Olympian's family.
"Their daughter is part of the USA Olympic moguls team, but got injured during practice and is no longer able to compete," Kasey wrote.
"The family that my dad offered his ticket to sat right in front of us. When their daughter walked out they noticed that she had chosen not to ride in the wheelchair; she chose to use crutches instead. As soon as the mom saw her daughter she broke down and cried. When I saw that it hit me. It was an amazing feeling to know that my dad had changed their lives. To know that we had helped their family with that experience was unexplainable!"
She also blogged about staying on the cruise ship. So, maybe it wasn't everything you expected it to be.
"It's definitely a different experience than your typical hotel," she wrote. "The room is about 9 feet by 9 feet with 3 beds, a small closet and an extremely small bathroom."
Kasey also had fun tweeting. After her brother tweeted that he was holding a "Win A Date with Nick" contest, Kasey was not to be outdone.
So let's start a #iwannadatenickssister— Kasey Goepper (@Kasey_Goepper) February 15, 2014
The family brought home a lot of Olympic swag - pins, ribbons and souvenirs – to go with their Olympic memories. And they got a pleasant surprise when they got home to Hidden Valley late Monday night.
Friends had filled their refrigerator and decorated the house in red, white and blue.
Asked what they would always remember, mom Linda said it was the opportunity and comfort provided by P&G, which shot a video of her and Nick before the Games for their "Thank You, Mom: Raising An Olympian" series.
"For me, what they supplied us was just incredible," she said, fighting back tears. "… I never had a company that stepped in and took care of us the way they did."
Dad Chris didn't hesitate with his answer.
"The medal ceremony," he said.
His lips started to quiver. Then it was his turn to tear up.
For Nick, the Games are over, but the beat goes on.
Goepper, whose charm and good looks made him one of the most popular U.S. athletes at Sochi and on social media, flew to New York Tuesday to make another guest appearance on the "David Letterman Show" and other media spots this week.
It was a long flight - Sochi to Istanbul to Frankfurt to New York - but he managed to get in some practice along the way.
And he had gold-medalist Joss Christensen with him to break the monotony.
Who knows? Since Nick is only 19, the whole family may get to repeat the experience in 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
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