KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Joss Christensen believes his father was looking down on him as he skied to Olympic gold on Thursday.
J.D. Christensen was born with a congenital heart problem and, at 67, he passed away due to the condition on Aug. 15 while Christensen was on a plane to New Zealand.
“I’m definitely skiing for my father,” Christensen said. “I hope I made him proud.”
Christensen led a podium sweep of the first Olympic men’s slopestyle skiing competition, scoring 95.80 points in his first run that held up. He was joined on the podium by Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper.
After, he found his mother, Debbie, in the crowd and hugged her.
“I’m so happy for you,” she said.
Joss and J.D. were close, driving together from their Utah home to Colorado and to competitions. When Joss competed in Europe, J.D. would watch on TV.
“He supported my skiing so much,” Christensen said.
Christensen’s mom, a travel agent, almost didn’t make it to Sochi. She came over “last second,” he said, when a room opened up with one of their friends. It couldn’t have turned out any sweeter.
“It’s been an emotional year,” his mom said. “I’m so proud of him.”