Gov. Mike Pence honored Olympic ski slopestyle bronze medalist Nick Goepper as a “distinguished Hoosier” Monday at the Statehouse.
Goepper was born in Lawrenceburg but currently resides in Colorado, where he moved several years ago to train.
Pence told Goepper how proud he – and the people of Indiana – are of his accomplishment.
“It is extraordinary to think that a young man from Dearborn County, Indiana setting the world on fire in a skiing competition in Sochi,” Pence said.
Pence said every Hoosier was “standing a little bit taller when they saw you on that medal stand.”
“This young man not only performed with great ability on the slopes but he’s carried himself with a joy and a graciousness that I think has made our whole state proud,” Pence said.
“It’s a real honor to be here and accept this award,” Goepper said. “Thank you.”
Goepper’s medal came in the ski slopestyle competition, an event where a skier performs tricks on a series of rails and jumps. Goepper was the 2014 Winter X Games gold medalist and is the top-ranked slopestyle skier in the world.
“This is a young man of extraordinary capability, tremendous passion and tremendous Hoosier pride,” Pence said.
Goepper learned to ski at Perfect North Slopes, a small ski area in Lawrenceburg that he said is still one of his favorite places to ski.
“When I come back home to Southeastern Indiana, I have more fun skiing there than almost anywhere in the world,” he said. “It’s like hometown, stomping grounds.”
Goepper’s bronze medal was part of a ski slopestyle sweep by the United States. Goepper combined with gold medalist Joss Christensen and silver medalist Gus Kenworthy for only the third sweep in winter Olympic history.
“It was incredible to not only get on the podium with two of my buddies, but to recognize that historic moment,” Goepper said.
This year was also the first Olympics in which slopestyle was an event but Goepper said he is optimistic about the future of his sport.
“I think our sport made an impact on the Olympics and on the viewers, and hopefully it will be a staple sport for many games to come,” he said.
John Sittler is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.