PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb 18 (Reuters) – Freestyle silver medallist Nick Goepper plans to savor his second taste of Olympic success after a struggle to cope with media attention following the Sochi Games four years ago plunged him into a downward spiral of alcohol abuse and depression.
“It is important to have a plan. Failure to plan is planning to fail,” the American told reporters after taking second place in Sunday’s ski slopestyle final.
After winning bronze as part of a United States clean sweep in 2014, the then 19-year-old from the American Midwest was thrown into the media spotlight and found the attention hard to deal with.
“I had no real plan after Sochi, I was just partying a lot with my friends and just flying into this void,” he told reporters. “Three weeks after the Olympics I was like ‘what am I doing?’”
In the build-up to the Pyeongchang Olympics, Goepper admitted he had considered committing suicide as his drinking got out of hand after Sochi.
“(Alcohol) was a symptom of this problem, for sure. That symptom got pretty bad at one point but I was able to go to a treatment center for a couple of months and figure myself out, getting the important help that I needed,” said Goepper, who went into rehabilitation in late 2015.
Now, older and wiser, Goepper says he has not had a drink in two-and-a-half years and this medal means more to him than the bronze from Sochi.
“I loved having the experience over the last four years,” said Goepper. “I love having traveled a bit more and I appreciate this a bit more because I am a little bit older and I can reflect and reminisce on the last 10 years of my career and look forward to the next 10.”
This time around, once he has ridden the wave of media obligations, Goepper has a plan. “I just want to stay humble, stay focussed. I just love skiing and I love competing and I want to get back to it as soon as I can,” he said.
(Editing by Clare Fallon)