Joss Christensen is a slopestyle skier competing for the U.S. at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He won the gold in the slopestyle event on Thursday.
Here’s what you need to know about America’s newest gold medalist:
1. He Dedicated the Gold to His Late Father
Christensen paid tribute to his late father, James Dale “JD” Christensen, who was fighting a congenital heart condition.
I hope I made my father proud. He’s been supporting me since Day One through all the injuries I’ve had, which I know scare parents a lot. He’s always supported me and never said stop. I wish he was here and I hope he’s looking down and smiling.”
2. The Americans Swept the Podium
Christensen led the American sweep of the slopestyle skiing event. Colorado’s Gus Kenworthy (93.60) and Indiana’s Nick Goepper (92.40) took the silver and bronze, respectively.
According to the Denver Post, Christensen threw a switch triple-cork 1440 to post three of the four highest scores of the day through qualifying and finals — a move he had learned just two days earlier.
The medal sweep was the third all-time for the United States in the Winter Olympics. The U.S. swept the men’s figure skating podium at the 1956 Cortina d’ Ampezzo Games and the men’s snowboard halfpipe at Park City in 2002.
3. He Was the Last Skier to Make the Olympic Team
Christensen was the last skier to make the U.S. Olympic team. His slopestyle victory on the fifth and final Olympic qualifier punched his ticket to Sochi and the first-ever slopestyle competition.
Watch him ski to victory in the video below.
4. The Weather Was Remarkably Warm in Sochi
The weather in Sochi was so warm that some spectators and athletes were wearing in T-shirts, the New York Daily News reported.
Some people event jumped into their bathing suits and enjoyed the sun and the sand at the beach.
5. He Began Skiing as a Toddler
Like many Olympic skiers, Christensen began to hit the slopes almost as soon as he could walk. According to his US Free Skiing profile, his parents got him started on skis at age three at his backyard mountains of Park City and Deer Valley.
Skiing is freedom, how you can do any trick your own way and how a feature can be hit in multiple ways as well. Just the feeling of skiing really fast down a steep run is amazing.”
According to his 2014 Sochi Olympics profile, Christensen first took up freestyle skiing when he was 12 years old. By 14, he was participating in competitive events.