Some Olympic gold medalists go on talk shows after the Games. Others do reality TV. Joss Christensen bought a chainsaw and a half-acre behind a Park City ski resort and went to town on 25-foot trees.
“I’m trying to become more of a mountain man,” Christensen said with a jocular smile, while waiting to get his hair done at a New York salon for a recent U.S. Ski Team gala. “I use my chainsaw every day.”
Last winter, Christensen went from fortunate to make the Olympic team to one of the dominant performers at the Winter Games, leading a U.S. sweep in men’s ski slopestyle’s Winter Games debut. He scored at least 90 points in all five of his runs (qualifying and final). In the two-run final, where only a skier’s better run counts, both of his runs would have won gold.
Christensen’s podium mates — silver medalist Gus Kenworthy and bronze medalist Nick Goepper — made added off-the-snow headlines after their competition for puppies and a dating contest, respectively.
Meanwhile, Christensen, a 22-year-old of few words, basked in the glow of his gold medal in Sarajevo. He flew to the 1984 Winter Games host city to shoot a ski film. A dog bit him. He needed 30 to 40 injections, including rabies and tetanus shots.
“The hospitals in Bosnia are sketchy,” Christensen said. “Nobody speaks English.”
Back home in Park City, Christensen made a few purchases — his first chainsaw, a snowmobile, a half-acre of land behind a ski resort (joining with a half-acre bought by a friend who works for a ski film company) and a black 2014 Chevrolet Silverado.
“Double cab,” Christensen said proudly. “Z71 package.”
Christensen and the friend began building “a little hut” by chopping down dead trees on their new land.
“It was definitely really scary to use [the chainsaw] at first, because I didn’t know much of what I was doing with a power machine with a blade on it,” he said.
There’s plenty more work ahead. Christensen said the land didn’t have running water yet, but it does have rails to hone his skiing, given to him by the nearby ski resort.
“That’s kind of my biggest plan besides contests is get in the back country, get on my snowmobile and scare myself more than I have before,” said Christensen, who also recently jumped out of a plane.
Christensen will return to competition next month.
“Before I thought, one Olympics, that’s it, but now a new flame’s inside of me,” he said. “I think I’ve got four more years.”