Lawrenceburg skier Nick Goepper determined to grab Olympic gold in Pyeongchang

Slopestyle skiing finals Saturday night

 

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. -- Perfect North's most famous patron, 23-year-old Nick Goepper, has only one goal this Olympics: winning a gold medal Saturday night.

The Hidden Valley Lake native nabbed a bronze medal in slopestyle skiing at the Sochi Games four years ago, then overcame depression and thoughts of suicide to get his trick skiing career back on track.

"I came here for nothing less than gold, so that's what I'll be trying for and I am really excited," Goepper told ABC's Good Morning America. "Sochi was an awesome experience, but it's so good to come back for my second Olympics and be considered a veteran, and I think that's really cool."

Goepper competes Saturday night Eastern Time (Sunday morning in South Korea, where it's 14 hours ahead). 

There are two qualifying rounds starting at 8 p.m ET. If he makes the cut, he goes on to the three final runs starting at 11:15 p.m. ET Saturday. The last run is scheduled to begin at 12:11 a.m. ET Sunday.

The medal winners, determined by each competitor's highest-scored run in the finals, should be decided by 12:40 a.m. ET.  

WATCH Goepper's appearance on GMA in the video player below.

Goepper hauled in a hoard of Tri-State supporters to help him brave the much colder temperatures of Pyeongchang as compared to Russia in 2014.

"I have the whole family ... I feel so blessed that they will be able to join me here," he said.

 Goepper has had his ups and downs since winning the Olympic bronze as a hot-shot 19-year-old four years ago.

Three weeks ago, he bared his soul and revealed that he had comtemplated suicide, drank heavily and fought depression after Sochi.

RELATED: Goepper reveals he pondered suicide, drank heavily after winning medal in 2014

“There came a point when I was drinking every day and I was constantly thinking about ways to end my own life,” he said in a video posted on YouTube.

In the video, Goepper also detailed his recovery. He said he spent two months in rehab in 2015 that enabled him to find himself again.

It all came back to him at the 2017 X Games in Norway, where he finished second, Goepper said. Goepper had won the gold at X Games for three straight years – 2013-2015 – and returning to that event was comfortable - like going home, he said.

But Goepper may find it more difficult to win another Olympic medal this year. For one thing, there is a host of eager, younger competitors performing bigger tricks than Goepper did in 2014.

For another, he wasn't at the top of his game in the last big Olympic tuneup.

“Four years ago, I felt like I was that up-and-coming youngster who was chomping at the heels of all the guys who were three or four years older than I was,” said Goepper. “Now there are these 18- and 19-year olds who are winning contests and putting together high-caliber runs. It’s a little intimidating, to be honest.”

Slopestyle skiers are now throwing multiple triple corks - a twisting, triple somersault with a backward landing - in every run.

“It’s like kryptonite,” said Goepper, who was one of the first to do the triple cork in the 2014 X Games. “If you have a triple cork, you’re in that top five as long as the rest of your run is pretty good.”

WATCH Goepper do triple cork in the 2014 X Games:

Goepper said the winning run Saturday night won't just have spectacular tricks but some finer details as well, like a “pretzel." That's what you see when a skier mounts a rail spinning in one direction, stops the spin and spins the reverse direction off the rail.

Goepper has dominated X Games since bursting onto the scene as a 17-year-old in 2012, but he finished seventh among eight finalists at 2018 X Games three weeks ago. He made just one competitive run in his three final runs.

He could have been outmatched - or he could have been tanking because he didn't want to reveal any new tricks up his sleeve before the Olympics.

Goepper wasn't saying. But he demonstrated in qualifying that he still has what it takes when he finished third with his best score of 92.33. He would have tied for the silver medal if he had duplicated that score in the finals.

WATCH Goepper's best run at X Games 2018:

 

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