PARK CITY — For the first time in three years, Alex Schlopy stood on the top of the podium after winning Friday’s Grand Prix slopestyle competition at Park City Mountain Resort.
Maybe all his hard work finally paid off.
Maybe it’s competing in his hometown.
And maybe it was the lure of the Olympics that finally gave him the motivation he said he lacked after winning three massive prizes in 2011 — the Winter X games Big Air Contest, the 2011 Slopestyle Winter Dew Tour at Snowbasin and the 2011 World Championships at Deer Valley.
“I’m just excited I finally got to put down the run I’ve been wanting to put down for the past few season,” said the 21-year-old Park City native. “I’ve had a few small injuries, a lot of weather problems the last few events, and sometimes the course just doesn’t cater to what you want to do.”
Schlopy said that after he won in 2011, he struggled to find the same drive, not to mention the same result.
“I lost motivation for a little bit, but I’m back,” he said, gripping the golden pick ax (a nod to Park City's mining history) that served as his trophy for winning the event that helps athletes qualify for the 2014 Olympic team. “I guess I didn’t really have a goal in mind anymore.” But now freeskiers have the Olympics to add to their list of goals, and Schlopy said trying to make the team has been energizing.
“It’s such a big accomplishment to go to the Olympics,” he said smiling. “Definitely put that on the list of goals in your life.”
Schlopy won the men’s competition with his first run, which scored 92.20 points. Bobby Brown locked up his spot on the Olympic team with a second-place finish (88.20 points), while Gus Kenworthy finished third with 91.40. Another Park City native, Joss Christensen is hoping to qualify, and he finished fourth with a score of 90.60 Friday.
Schlopy said he was relieved and excited by his unexpected win.
“It feels so good,” he said. “I’ve been waiting and working so hard. I just feels good to have hard work pay off. I didn’t really expect to jump into first place, or whatever, but I’m stoked.”
He said his strategy was simply to do his best.
“I just wanted to ski the best I could and have fun doing it,” he said. “There is not much more you can do than that.” On the women’s side, Devin Logan, 20, became the first woman to qualify for the 2014 Olympic team with a gold-medal run of 87.40 points.
“I can’t believe that just happened,” said Logan, who will try to qualify for the U.S. ski halfpipe team Friday night. “It makes me feel a whole lot better going into pipe tonight, a bit of a confidence booster. I probably won’t do slope tomorrow and concentrate on pipe and hopefully get that spot as well.”
She said she dreamed of competing in the Olympics, but it wasn’t an option for freeskiers until the IOC added the sport to the Olympic Games in the spring of 2011.
“I always dreamed of it but didn’t think it would happen this good,” she said. “I can’t wait to go there and represent the US of A and hopefully bring home another podium for us.”