All The Wiser World Champ

By Jason Devaney | March 06, 2013, 12:20 p.m. (ET)
 
David Wise takes first place in men's halfpipe at the FIS Freestyle
Ski World Championship on March 5, 2013 in Oslo, Norway.

After winning his second straight superpipe skiing title at the 2013 X Games in January, things really couldn’t get much better for American David Wise.

He was a 22-year-old kid, married with a daughter and living in Reno, Nev. Next winter, his sport — halfpipe skiing — will debut in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

On Tuesday at the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships, Wise took one giant step closer to riding the pipe in Sochi next year by winning the gold medal. His teammate Torin Yater-Wallace finished a close second.

Wise’s victory gave him enough points to propel him to the No. 1 spot in the AFP halfpipe world rankings.

“It is such an honor to be a part of such a cool sport, where everyone is throwing down so many incredible runs and compete with the best athletes in the world,” Wise told U.S. Freeskiing after his victory.

“It's an even bigger honor to have the world champ title because it's something I will always have. I set a goal of the run I wanted to do and didn't hold anything back, and I am thrilled this all came together for me.”

Wise’s run consisted of this: leftside cork 900 nose-grab, rightside 720 leading mute-grab, switch double cork 1080, rightside double cork 1260, leftside double cork 1260.

Wise talked with TeamUSA.org Monday ahead of his worlds finale and said the big goal these days is executing back-to-back double corks. In 2008, he was the first skier to land one double cork in a halfpipe. This year, he pulled off three in a row.

No wonder he’s a world champion.

Wise’s story on the snow started when he was 3 and he clipped into his first pair of skis. Back then he was following in the footsteps of his father, who was a ski racer. Wise competed in slalom and giant slalom as a youngster and traveled to races up and down the West Coast. He was ranked in the top five in his home state of Nevada.

 
David Wise with his gold medal at the FIS Freestyle Ski
World Championship on March 5, 2013 in Oslo, Norway.

But something was missing. Wise was the kid who was always skirting the edge of danger. He’d jump off anything he could find, would throw his body from a variety of surfaces at varying heights. If there were a trampoline nearby, he would be on it.

And then at 11, Wise discovered freestyle skiing. It was a perfect match.

“I loved going fast,” Wise said. “That’s what I loved about racing and it was hard to let it go. When I found out I could combine that speed that is skiing with jumping, what I love to do, I was like, ‘Oh, there’s nothing better for me out there.’ "

From that point, Wise was hooked to the jumping, flipping and somewhat daredevil nature that is freestyle skiing.

But believe it or not, he doesn’t spend all day on the mountain doing tricks.

These days, Wise will get up, get in some time on a spin bike to wake up his legs, and then he will head to the mountain. He spends no more than three hours working on the snow. If he’s doing halfpipe runs, he will do 12 to 15. That’s it. Wise said he will focus on one or a few things each session, and when he’s done he will watch video and analyze how he did. For the rest of the day and into the evening, Wise thinks about what he needs to fix.

Wise hits the gym a few times a week to work on leg and core strength. But instead of doing basic squats and leg presses, he and his personal trainer work on box jumps, twisting jumps and improving agility. Wise adds several weekly mountain bike rides into his summer training routine.

“Almost everything I do, even if I am lifting weights, has some form of balance thrown in,” Wise said. “My trainer always says he’s trying to throw me off balance. In the halfpipe, things are always a little bit off. You might land perfect, but you catch a little edge here and there.”

So it seems that Wise has figured out the recipe for being a successful halfpipe skier. But that doesn’t mean the road has been easy.

 
David Wise during his gold-medal winning halfpipe run on March 5,
2013 in Oslo, Norway.

Wise tore the ACL in his left knee during the 2009-10 season. He was forced to sit out that year after having surgery and going through six months of rehab. He was deemed ready to go the next year and things were going fine … until, a few months after winning his first X Games title in 2012, Wise blew out the same knee that May.

He said it wasn’t related to the original injury, and noted that the timing of the second incident actually worked out well.

“I had all summer to focus on recovery and training, and I came back strong,” Wise said. “I didn’t miss any competitions other than the summer competitions.”

This season, Wise said he has never felt stronger — a phrase he admits to saying before the start of every season. He rarely thinks about his twice-wounded knee because if he did, that might affect his confidence and it could lead to either another injury or a poor performance. He can’t afford either of those to happen right now.

At the moment, Wise and his fellow freestyle skiers have their sights set on the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. The X Games and World Championships are one thing, but the Winter Games are on a completely different stage. Millions of fans around the world tune in to watch two and a half weeks of elite-level competition on the ice and snow.

“That’s what every athlete dreams of, being on that world stage at the Olympics,” Wise said. “It’s transformed our sport in a lot of good ways so it’s pretty exciting to be a part of it.”

Not only is he a part of it, but also Wise is virtually paving the way to Sochi with his double corks and other insane-looking tricks on the halfpipe. It might look dangerous, but Wise said everything he does is calculated and measured.

That stems from a feeling he has had since his youth.

“I had this obsession with conquering fear,” Wise said. “I looked at anything that made me scared and I was like, ‘You know what, I want to not be scared of that anymore.’ ”

“Conquering risk has always been my motto for life.”

Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Jason Devaney is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org. This story was not subject to the approval of any National Governing Bodies.

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