There was no podium sweep in men's freeski slopestyle this year, and for a while, it looked like there might be no medals at all for the U.S. in PyeongChang.
Then Nick Goepper came through with a clutch run on his third and final attempt.
Sitting well outside medal position before that run, Goepper linked together strong rail sections and strong tricks on the jumps before stomping a triple cork 1440 to cap off his run.
That run scored a 93.6 and vaulted Goepper into second place. With none of the remaining riders able to outdo him, that score held up to earn Goepper and the U.S. the silver medal.
"I really had to dig deep," Goepper said of his final run. "I was visualising myself landing on the last jump, arms open just screaming, and it all came to fruition."
There was no touching Norway's Oystein Braaten though, who won gold with a score of 95.0 on his very first attempt.
In that run, Braaten came out swinging. He followed up technical rail sections with a left double cork 1260 off the angled kicker and then back-to-back switch double cork 1440s on the course's bottom two jumps.
"First run I did what I planned to do, what I wanted to do as well as I could, and it held up against all the great runs today," the new Olympic champion said. "Just being a part of a final like this was amazing."
Canada's Alex Beaulieu-Marchand secured bronze with a 92.4, narrowly keeping Great Britain's James Woods off the podium in fourth place.
Woods was taking creative lines through the rail sections and was the only rider attempting multiple triple corks in his run. He was landing a left triple cork 1440 off the angled kicker and a switch triple cork 1440 off the final jump. Woods was also one of the contest's more consistent skiers — he was the only competitor to score in the 90s on two separate runs — but fell just short of a medal.
The fourth-place result matches Woods' slopestyle finish at X Games Aspen each of the last three seasons. He was fifth at the last Olympics.
"I'm obviously pretty disappointed, but at the end of the day skiing put on the most amazing show today," Woods said. "I think we really showed how cool we all are and that's the main thing really. It was an amazing show, I mean I can't keep my eyes off the screen. It's incredible."
Had the overall level of skiing not been as high as it was in PyeongChang, Woods might have found himself on the podium. The same could be said for Canadian skiers Teal Harle and Evan McEachran and Swiss skier Andri Ragettli, who put down solid runs of their own but also missed out on a medal.
"The level was so high," Braaten said. "So many of [these] guys I have looked up to and inspired me every day to go out and ride."
Four years ago in Sochi, Goepper was part of a historic podium sweep in this event. He earned the bronze medal, while U.S. teammates Joss Christensen and Gus Kenworthy took gold and silver, respectively.
But Christensen, who tore his ACL last year and only recently started skiing again, was unable to make the Olympic team this year. First-time Olympians McRae Williams and Alex Hall did not make it out of the qualifying round.
That left just Goepper and Kenworthy as Team USA's lone representatives in the slopestyle final. Kenworthy was unable to land a full run, though, and finished 12th.
Videos of the top runs from both the qualifying and final rounds can be found further below.
Gold: Oystein Braaten (NOR), 95.0
Silver: Nick Goepper (USA), 93.6
Bronze: Alex Beaulieu-Marchand (CAN), 92.4
4. James Woods (GBR), 91.0
5. Teal Harle (CAN), 90.0
6. Evan McEachran (CAN), 89.4
7. Andri Ragettli (SUI), 85.8
8. Ferdinand Dahl (NOR), 76.4
9. Elias Ambuhl (SUI), 73.2
10. Jonas Hunziker (SUI), 66.2
11. Oscar Wester (SWE), 62.0
12. Gus Kenworthy (USA), 35.0
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