Defending Olympic men’s ski halfpipe champion David Wise (USA) showed he remains a force to be reckoned with, taking until his last run in the final to lay down a winning score of 97.20 at the Phoenix Snow Park on Thursday 22 February.
Wise, who was eighth in the qualification round at PyeongChang 2018, emphatically answered questions about his earlier form with a run that included four tricks out of five that incorporated the difficult double-cork manouevre, including 1080- and 1260-degree spins.
His score displaced countryman Alex Ferreira at the top of the leaderboard, whose earlier 96.00 had looked difficult to beat. Ferreira actually improved to 96.40 on his final run but it wasn’t enough to haul in Wise. A third American, Aaron Blunck, had the final run of the day after topping the qualification and a chance to displace Wise, but a small error on one landing was enough to relegate him to eventual seventh place.
“Today was just an amazing day of halfpipe skiing. Seeing Alex [Ferreira] land his runs, all three runs, and the quals that he did, just inspired me,” Wise said.
"I really wanted to land a run. I walked out of a ski twice. For both runs I walked out of a ski. Not really a mistake I made, but it was just unfortunate, so I had to put it all down on the third run, and I pulled it off.
"I'm honestly just in disbelief right now. Winning, losing, whatever, just the fact that I landed that run in the moment when it needed to happen, on that that third run, just felt so good."
Chasing Wise, Ferreira said he chose not to hold anything back for the crucial final run. “My coach Elana Chase and I, that's our main rule: never give up. Never leave anything on the table, never let anything down. Always rise to potential, always rise to the occasion.” he said.
New Zealand 16-year-old Nico Porteous showed he is a potential star of the future, snaring the bronze medal with the second run of his first Olympic final, which netted him a 94.80 from the judges.
“I honestly don't know why it went so well. I honestly have no clue,” Porteous said. “I've been a mixed bag of emotions lately, I haven't been really getting much sleep. On the night of quals I didn't get to sleep until 4am. I've been all over the show. Maybe it was meant to be, I guess.”