This time last year, slopestyle skier Joss Christensen was gearing up for another grueling season on the competitive circuit: Grand Prix, Dew Tour, X Games, and, if he skied well, a shot at his sport's first berth in the Olympics.
Two short months later, Christensen had not only earned his place on a strong U.S. squad, but had spun his way to the top of the podium in Sochi, Russia, winning the first Olympic gold in ski slopestyle history.
Since then it has been a whirlwind for the 22-year-old Utah native. Media tours, Teton Gravity Research (TGR) movie segments, and a new website have all been part of Christensen's 2014, but the lingering question has been how this season can top last's.
GrindTV caught up with Christensen right before he qualified for Sunday's Dew Tour slopestyle final in Breckenridge, Colorado, to talk about his year in the spotlight and what to expect for 2015.
You got a lot of media attention after your Olympic win last year. What was the weirdest part of that experience?
I'd say the weirdest thing for me is just being recognized in random places by people you wouldn't think would recognize you. That and I got hit up by a men's grooming company, but that fell through. That actually would have been pretty cool.
Last season was big, but how do you overcome that Olympic hangover?
I'm seeing this as a whole new year. Last year still seems so unreal for me that this year I'm just back in my regular routine. I definitely put a target on my back this season, which is a big difference, but I hope that it doesn't give me too much anxiety and that I can work through it.
What are your goals for this season?
Last year we had six competitions before the Olympics, so I kind of wanted to step away from doing that. My goal is five competitions total, just enough to pre-qualify for next year and hopefully do well in all of them. My biggest goal is to do well at X Games and hopefully reach the podium. I also want to do more filming and broaden my skiing by going to the backcountry and the street to see what I'm capable of.
We hear you launched a new website in the off-season; can you tell us a little about that?
Me and my friend and fellow skier Matt Walker started a new website called SLVSH; it's a new ski website. He approached me with this idea of a global ski matchup league that is a head-to-head contest, but there's no real tournament. It's stat based. We're still figuring it all out right now, but so far we've ranked people based on games that they've played and the amount of letters they've given rather than the amount they've received. It's essentially like a game of H-O-R-S-E in the terrain park. We're trying to put out a new game every Tuesday this year and we'll release some of our own ski edits this season.
Urban and park skiing don’t always get along with the competition scene, yet you seem to move from one to the other without an issue. Why do you think that is?
I'm just trying to ski as much as I can, wherever I can. The kids I grew up with [in Park City, Utah], there weren't too many competitions, and film[ing] skiing is what we did. So when we were young we kind of just skied on anything and everything possible. It's cool to get to a point where I'm pretty confident in going out and exploring to ski bigger and better things.
How do you feel about the Dew Tour course?
The course is really good. It's the same formula that they've been using: two rails, two jumps, to [a] rail, to two more jumps. I like the four jumps, but it's kind of nice to have it split up with a rail. The weather this year has been amazing, the jumps are big, the rails are smooth, and everything flows really well.
Which athletes do we need to keep our eyes on this season?
There's a Norwegian kid named Øystein Bråten that has had a little bit of trouble breaking into the top competition level, but he's one of the best skiers in the world right now and I think this year is going to be a big year for him. Look out for Øystein: He's young and he's hungry.
Last year was the year of the triple cork. What’s going to be the big trick in 2015?
There's two ways you can take your tricks right now: You can flip one more time, or you can add a little spin and uniqueness to your tricks. I think this year there's going to be a lot of switch double-cork 1440s and I think there might be forward and switch triple 1440s and maybe even some back-to-back triples. Everything is accelerating really fast, but I'm excited to see what everyone has been working on over the summer.
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