Dream Olympic debut for David Wise
Having arrived at Sochi 2014 as the favourite to triumph in the halfpipe, American freestyle skier David Wise did not disappoint, winning a gold medal on his Olympic debut.
David Wise grew up in a family of winter sport enthusiasts in the Nevada town of Reno, a stone’sthrow from the popular American ski resorts of California. On skis from the age of three, he developed a love of jumping, be it on the trampoline in his back garden or on the Sierra Nevada slopes. After joining a local freestyle skiing team at the age of 11, the precocious youngster discovered the halfpipe event, in which he began to compete at junior level.
Bag of tricks
Excelling at his chosen discipline, Wise was crowned American champion at the age of 15, and made his FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup debut three years later. In 2009, he became the first skier to land the double cork 1260, a trick that would become his signature move.
Having captured the halfpipe titles in the 2012 World Cup and the 2013 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships in Voss (NOR), the American athlete also claimed a record three successive Winter X-Games crowns in Aspen (USA) between 2012 and 2014.
In 2011, the International Olympic Committee confirmed that ski halfpipe would be included in the freestyle programme at Sochi 2014, thereby bringing Wise’s dreams of Olympic glory one step closer. Upon arriving in Russia three years later, he could not hide his delight. “It’s crazy!” he said. “It's crazy. You look forward to something for so long and then it gets closer and closer.
It's like you look forward to it and it's so far in the future and then, 'Oh, we're in Russia. Oh, here's our first practice day. Oh, wow, we're competing.' And then all of a sudden, it's over.”
On 18 February 2014, in difficult, snowy conditions at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, Wise dug deep to prevail in the Olympic halfpipe final, producing a resilient first run that featured two double corks, including one of his trademark 1260s, and earning a score of 92.00 that his rivals were incapable of trumping. Canada’s Mike Riddle (90.60) and France’s Kevin Rolland (88.60) took silver and bronze.
Once his historic achievement had sunk in, a broad smile spread across his face. “It’s too incredible to be true. Did it really happen? Am I going to pinch myself and wake up? Becoming the first halfpipe gold medallist is one of the most insane things imaginable. I’m so fortunate, as the winner gets to represent the sport all over the world, and that idea really excites me.”
Wise has already turned his thoughts to his next Olympic adventure. “I'm a huge strategist,” he reveals. “I like to make plans and I'm totally cool with it if things change. I'm already looking forward to 2018. What do I think it'll take four years from now? What is it that I'm going to do and where can I go? I'm excited to play the game again. Where is the sport going to go and who is going to be leading the charge? I'm looking forward to it.”