Wednesday, December 12News That Matters

Nick Goepper Wins Silver in Olympic Slopestyle — Only U.S. Man on Podium 4 Years After Sochi Sweep

American freeskier Nick Goepper returned to the snow on Sunday in Pyeongchang, South Korea, to defend his Olympic bronze medal in men’s slopestyle — and did better than that, winning silver.

His final score of 93.60, earned on his last of three runs in the event, came in just behind the 95.00 of Norway’s Oystein Braaten.

Goepper, 23, previously earned earned bronze in slopestyle (in which competitors are scored as they perform a variety of tricks and jumps down a mixed-terrain course, not dissimilar to skateboarding) at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

He was part of a rare nation’s sweep of the podium, alongside Joss Christensen, who won gold, and Gus Kenworthy, who earned silver

Hampered by injury, Christensen failed to qualify for Team USA this year; Kenworthy competed in the finals at slopestyle on Sunday but disappointed in all three runs, coming last.

Goepper and Kenworthy had made strong showings in the slopestyle qualifying earlier Sunday — which aired Saturday night stateside — placing fifth and seventh, respectively, heading into the finals in the afternoon. Kenworthy was even skiing with a broken thumb.

With Goepper’s win, the U.S. stands at 10 total medals. (Speedskater John-Henry Krueger nabbed the ninth, a silver, in Saturday’s men’s 1,000-meter event.)

Keep Following PEOPLE’s Complete Coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

For Goepper, the 2018 Games were somewhat of a “redemption time,” he told PEOPLE in Pyeongchang, South Korea, a few days before competing.

“I’m coming off a poor result at the X Games in Aspen a couple weeks ago, and that was really tough for me,” he said. “I made an uncharacteristic mistake three times in all my runs, and I’m really just using that as fuel and motivation to bring into this and really step it up and shine, because that’s what I came here to do.”

The memory of his third-place finish four years ago also motivated him.

“I remember just being not as satisfied as I could have been ,” he said, adding, “I mean we’re just picking at straws here. Just being as competitive as I am, I really, really want to win a gold medal. And that’s pretty much what I came here to do.”

RELATED VIDEO: Olympian Gus Kenworthy on His Impact as the ‘Gay Skier’

In recent weeks, Goepper has also spoken publicly about his mental health and substance abuse struggles following the post-Olympics high of Sochi.

He said the decision to discuss his post-Sochi issues “really comes down to just me being comfortable with who I am.”

“I’m not necessarily trying to be a big advocate or a spokesperson or anything like that,” he told PEOPLE. “Who knows, I might down the road, once I become even more comfortable and learn more about this.”

“But I think just growing up and being more comfortable in my own skin really helped me be more open and candid with the public about some of those personal struggles,” he continues, “and especially being in a position of a public figure, I think it’s a really good thing to do that.”

The 2018 Winter Olympics are airing live on NBC. To learn more, visit