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Christensen Takes Gold in U.S. Ski Slopestyle Podium Sweep

The three medalists from left to right: Gus Kenworthy (silver), Joss Christensen (gold), Nick Goepper (bronze). Mikhail Makrushin

The United States swept the podium in the first-ever men's ski slopestyle at the Winter Olympics on Thursday with Joss Christensen leading a historic medal triple.

Christensen scored 95.80 on a scorching first run to lead from compatriots Gus Kenworthy on 93.60 and Nick Goepper on 92.40. The closest challenger for the American medal trio was Norway's Andreas Haatveit, who missed out on a medal by six-tenths of a point, ahead of fifth-placed Briton James Woods, who was hampered by a hip injury.

Christensen's victory comes as something of a surprise, since the 22-year-old had his last major victory in 2011.

The United States has won three of the four gold medals on offer in Sochi in slopestyle, a festival of tricks on rails and jumps. Americans Sage Kotsenburg and Jamie Anderson won gold in the two snowboard slopestyle events, before Canada's Dara Howell saw off Devin Logan of the United States to win the women's ski slopestyle Tuesday.

One other strong American contender was missing from the Olympic contest Thursday. Reigning X-Games champion Tom Wallisch did not make it into the U.S. team for Sochi after a poor performance in a series of Olympic qualifiers.

Slopestyle's first Olympic showing has come amid controversy over the course, which was altered to lower the height of the jumps last week in light of a spate of injuries in training and complaints from snowboarders that it was unsafe.

Prior to Thursday's final, there had been two other podium sweeps by a single country at the Sochi Olympics, both of them by the Netherlands in men's speedskating.

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