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Christensen Sets Sights on 2019 FIS World Championships

By Elise Saarela
November, 27 2018
Gus Kenworthy, Joss Christensen and Nick Goepper on the podium in Sochi, Russia.
U.S. podium sweep at the historic debut of men’s slopestyle skiing in the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games, when Joss Christensen took the sport’s first-ever gold medal with teammates Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper earning silver and bronze. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

Utah hosting the 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships means a lot to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard teams. The competition on home soil means more confidence on the courses, more family and friends in the crowd, and more ski and snowboard fans being exposed to the extraordinary state of sport that is Utah.

U.S. Freeski Team slopestyle skier and Park City local Joss Christensen is particularly overjoyed that the FIS World Champs are going to be in his hometown in 2019. “You never really know when another major event will happen in Park City, so I think this is a pretty rare opportunity to try and take advantage of,” says Christensen, “I am hyped to hopefully be competing on my home turf again with all my friends and family around to support me.”

Christensen has been an avid skier for the majority of his life. “I guess it was just a product of growing up in Park City. That was just just a way of life and seemed like that was what you were supposed to do.” His parents were ski lovers as well and put him in ski school as soon as they could. As he grew older, Christensen followed his brother into the park to learn the basics: he slid on boxes and rails, hit the jumps, and lapped the park all day long. By age 13, Christensen was in love with the sport of slopestyle skiing.

Growing up with some of the best park facilities in the world at Park City Mountain, Christensen excelled in his freeskiing career. Not only did he train on some of the best available terrain, but he was constantly surrounded by talented skiers. Christensen attributes his dedication, inspiration, and success in the sport to the freeskiing professionals that were formerly based in Park City.

“It was really cool because big names like Tanner Hall and Pep Fujas were riding out of Park City. Being able to see the best in the world at the time and see the pioneers that were pushing the sport and paving the way for future athletes was really awesome.”  

Now Christensen is one of the big names that aspiring slopestyle kids look up to. He has an impressive medal count, topping the podium at numerous World Cup and Grand Prix events, and collecting an X Games medal among his impressive results across slopestyle, halfpipe and big air events. Most would agree that topping all those achievements was his most notable victory - Olympic gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.

“For me that was just unbelievable. A lot of the times I think back on it and it still doesn’t seem like it actually happened,” Christensen says. His Olympic podium experience was shared with two other U.S. Freeski Team athletes including Gus Kenworthy (Telluride, Colo.) who won the silver medal, and Nick Goepper (Lawrenceburg, Ind.) who won the bronze, making an all American podium sweep. During this time, the U.S. Freeski Team was facing intense competition from a variety of other nations. This high level of international competition still exists today, but with the help of Christensen and an impressive group of veterans that make up the men’s and women’s U.S. Freeski Team, they are fostering an environment of progression and excellence for years to come and inspiring the next generation of athletes who are aiming at the top step of the podium.

As the 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships near, Christensen and his teammates are training hard for a spot on the team, which is never a guarantee with a talent-stacked U.S. Freeski Team. “World Champs is the one competition that I still haven’t really put my foot down on, so my main goal is to make the team,” Christensen says. After dealing with an injury last season, Christensen is working to get back on the snow as much as possible and get his old tricks back with confidence. Luckily, he is feeling more prepared because of his comfort with his local terrain. Riding the same rails and jumps he grew up on and having his hometown crowd cheering him on should help his confidence and mindset.

“The coolest thing is that I am going to be able to get to ride the chairlift I have ridden thousands of times in my life and compete at the place where I have spent the most time on the snow,” Christensen remarks.  

Christensen not only feels more prepared for the chance to compete in 2019, but he feels grateful for the opportunity to share his hometown with both his friends and the world. “I really like showing my hometown to all of my friends that I meet traveling on the road, and the hill that I grew up skiing on,” Christensen says. “It’s also really cool because a lot of my close friends that I grew up with don’t really have the chance to watch a contest live and now all my friends and family get to come.”  

It’s not just the fans that will make this event familiar, but also the fact that he will be skiing with teammates and friends, some of which he has known and skied with all his life on their home turf. “McRae Williams and I actually live together, which is funny because we pretty much hang out everyday,” says Christensen. “We grew up skiing ever since we were about 13 years old so we have a really close relationship. Colby Stevenson was always the younger kid in Park City following us around. I have known him since he was a little kid.”

With familiar courses, teammates, friends and family, as well as a strong love of Utah and Park City, Christensen is in a position to succeed this season. Make sure to look out for one of U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s hometown heroes during the 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships.

U.S. Freeski athletes will start competition with the big air qualifiers on Feb. 2 at 8:15 a.m. (MST) at the Canyons Village - Park City Mountain, finals will follow at 7:00 p.m. Freeski slopestyle competition will commence on Feb. 5. At 8:30 a.m. at Park City Mountain. The final round of competition will begin the following day Feb. 6 at 11:00 a.m.. Don’t miss your chance to to catch this action live and tune in on NBC.

How to Watch the 2019 World Championships

NBC Sports will showcase more than 25 hours of 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championship programming, including more than 10 hours of live coverage, on NBC and the NBC Sports networks.

Additional coverage will also be available on NBC Sports Gold – NBC Sports’ direct-to-consumer live streaming product – and the Olympic Channel digital platforms. A full broadcast schedule will be available on both USSkiandSnowboard.org  and  2019WorldChamps.com.