Olympic Skier Nick Goepper Talks Sobriety, Mental Health

By David Konow 02/20/18

After dealing with heavy drinking, insomnia and depression, the Olympic skier is feeling better than ever. 

Olympic Skier Nick Goepper

After winning the bronze medal at Sochi in 2014, champion skier Nick Goepper is triumphantly back at the Olympics at the age of 23. A brilliant performance on Sunday (Feb. 18) earned him a second medal—this one silver.

Prior to winning silver in Pyeongchang, Goepper told People, “I think I can ski better and I’m going to ski better here... Even though I might have a stack of accomplishments, I still have something to prove.”

Returning to the Olympics after facing down his mental health issues and getting sober was a huge triumph for the skier. Goepper admitted to getting carried away with himself after his 2014 Olympic success, telling USA Today, “I got caught up a lot with the social media and some of the celebrity idea, like I’m a celebrity, I’m super cool, I can do whatever I want and just partying with my friends and whatnot.”

Then things got much darker. He told People, “That summer of 2014 I really experienced this emotional distress and really just started to slide emotionally.”

Goepper went through an aimless period where he started drinking regularly, and he struggled with insomnia. “I would go to bed at night and I would want the night to be really long. I would stay up all night because that was how the time would tick by the slowest—thinking that the morning would never come. And all of a sudden the sun would come up and I would be like, ‘Another day of feeling this way.’”

Then, he confessed, “I was, like, flirting with that idea [of suicide]. I wasn’t ballsy or committed enough to actually do it. It was more like a really messed up way of saying ‘help me’ but without saying it to a friend or a family member.”

Goepper finally checked into rehab in the fall of 2015 and he called it a “huge turning point... talking to other people and just befriending other people at this recovery center, where I could relate to and I could talk to and I could share similar stories with [people], that was hugely inspiring.”

These days, Goepper tells USA Today, “I don’t make silly decisions on the weekends. I think [I] almost have better relationships because of it. I don’t spend $200 bar tabs on the weekend. I think there’s a lot of little things that add up.”

He acknowledges that it’s a learning process: “I think just growing up and being more comfortable in my own skin really helped me be more open and candid with the public about some of those personal struggles. Especially being in a position of a public figure, I think it’s a really good thing to do that.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.