On February 18th, 2014, David Wise claimed top spot on the medal podium at the Sochi Winter Olympics, in what was the first ever ski halfpipe Olympic competition. Wise put in a graceful performance, which surpassed the other medal hopefuls. He skied before a crowd that was waving photos of Nayeli, his two year old daughter. Inside his pocket, he kept a heart shaped stone that his wife had given to him as a lucky charm.
The event was from a spectacular showcase due to the poor weather conditions. Similar to when skiing near Boston, this prevented Wise and the other skiers from completing their normal range of gymnastics. However, Wise defied the hostile elements to score 92 on his initial run, which led the competition as the conditions deteriorated. When the competition finished, the top part of the halfpipe was not visible from the base.
Wise entered the competition as the betting favorite on Tuesday, when the torrential rain had given way to thick snowflakes. Over the halfpipe’s twenty-two foot walls, Wise performed the most impressive maneuvers. This started with a double mid air spin, grasping one ski and soaring to a height where he could peer directly down into the pipe. Following this was a one and a half mid air spin, which had him skiing backwards after landing. As well as being eye catching, this maneuver epitomizes the difference between halfpipe skiing and its’ snowboarding counterpart. Finally, he completed the standard double twisting leap and landed easily.
On the second run, Wise fell and only scored 3.4. This made him both the lowest and highest scorer of the evening. However, the other three remaining skiers — Rolland, Valentin and Dorey — fell as well. Once Dorey fell backwards and lost his balance upon landing, Wise had the competition in the bag.
Originally, the main threat to Wise’s dominance was predicted to come from his protégé, Torin Yater-Wallace. However, during Tuesday’s qualifications, the teenager from Basalt, Colorado, fell on each run. His second fall occurred on his final trick, where he was skiing backwards and toppled onto the snow. This error was large enough to lose him a place in the final.
Consequently, Wise — whose vocal supporters included his twin sisters, father and mother — took center stage for the rest of the competition. He excitedly twirled his skis, after landing safely on his initial run, and he grinned when he noticed the score. His fall on the second run was unimportant. Nobody could overtake him.
This was gold number six for America, and the country’s twentieth medal overall for these games. In total, the US has won eleven medals and five golds in action sports. Although Wise is not the trendiest competitor in these games, he is undoubtedly the best halfpipe skier in the Winter games. He has risen to the pinnacle of the sport, which is derived from the more famous snowboard version, claiming gold medals at the Winter X Games for three consecutive years.