Mansfield News Journal
When you’re a kid just hoping to perfect a freestyle skiing 180, competing in the Olympics may be the furthest thing from your mind.
But this week’s ski camp at Ohio Dreams Sports Camp has many kids reevaluating their dreams.
Slopestyle skiing Olympic bronze medalist Nick Goepper has been at the camp all week working with 25 teens from across the U.S. on their stunts.
Wednesday, each skier received personalized advice as Goepper watched them race down Ohio Dream’s famous Water Ramp and perform their biggest, baddest tricks.
“It’s been cool to hang out with these young kids trying to progress themselves,” Goepper said. “It’s cool to see the ambition they have.”
His work has already affected 12-year-old Quinn Dehlinger of Cincinnati, who said he hopes to use all that he’s learned to one day compete like Goepper.
“I’m going to go for the Olympics too, but first the X Games,” Dehlinger said.
Mainly though, he just wants to land a perfect cork, an off-axis 360 back-flip. That’s where Goepper comes in.
“He told me to bring my hips over more and spin,” Dehlinger said. “He also helped me with small things like grabbing the tip (of my ski) instead of my boot.
“He’s so helpful in every way, and inspiring, too.”
Goepper, now 20, was Dehlinger’s age when he attended his first ski camp at Ohio Dreams. At the time, the tall, lean boy with brown, tousled locks was just breaking into the competitive skiing scene.
The Indiana native thanks Ohio Dreams owner Chris Ashcraft and ski coach Brendan Trieb for their support and some of the training that helped lead him to his Olympic title. The two coaches were also on hand during camp, directing other Olympic hopefuls.
“It’s like watching myself walk up and down those steps,” Goepper said.
Since his time at Ohio Dreams, Goepper’s career has skyrocketed.
During the 2013-14 season, he landed on the podium at nearly every event he entered, including multiple World Cup wins, tops at Dew Tour Snowbasin, and two gold medals at consecutive X Games.
At this year’s Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, Goepper made history for his sport and country by taking home the first-ever bronze medal in slopestyle skiing.
Many of the teen participants requested Goepper show them the triple cork 1440 that helped win him the gold medal at this year’s X Games. He was one of two skiers to land the trick.
“There’s a lot of talent here,” Goepper said. “Ohio Dreams is one of the coolest grassroots action sports camps there is. It’s a really relaxed environment where you can progress your skills.”
Lauren Abernathy, 19, is new to freestyle skiing, having hit her first jump only last year. But she hasn’t let that hold her back from trying any of the daredevil tricks the other seasoned skiers perform.
“Coming to camp I said I will not front flip, I just hate doing it, but (Goepper) told me to do a front flip so I said OK, I guess I will throw down,” Abernathy said. “It’s good to have someone pushing you and giving you the confidence to just try.”
Abernathy grew up skiing, but said her parents never let her attempt tricks for fear she’d get hurt. But after she enrolled at The Ohio State University, she got to set her own terms. She joined the university’s ski team and competed for the first time this year, earning a silver medal at Midwest College Ski and Snowboard regional competition in the freestyle category.
“More girls need to do this,” Abernathy said.
Goepper isn’t the first Olympian to teach a camp at Ohio Dreams, nor the first to have roots at the action camp. Ashcraft said many successful athletes end up returning to give back.
BMX athletes Brooke Crane, Nic Long, Corben Sharrah, and Mike Day are among the latest Olympic competitors to visit the camp to help train others in the sport.
But it’s not always who trains you that makes the difference, Ashcraft said.
His best advice for other Olympic hopefuls: “If you want to go to the Olympics or do anything not just recreationally, you have to love the sport, love what you’re doing and work for it.”