Halfpipe skier David Wise has a simple approach when it comes to tricks.
“I want to do something that nobody else is doing,” he said this past September at the Team USA Media Summit.
That philosophy carries over to his results, too.
In Sochi, Wise became the first Olympic gold medalist in men’s halfpipe skiing, and with his win on Friday at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Snowmass in Colorado, he earned a spot at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, where he will attempt to make history again by defending that gold medal.
The 27-year-old needed the victory (or be second if the winner was not an American) in the fourth of five qualifying events to solidify his place on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team, and he delivered with a first-run performance that earned him a score of 95.00.
Wise led a Team USA sweep that saw Alex Ferreira finish second with a 93.00, scored on his third run, and Aaron Blunck third with a 91.20 earned on his first.
Ferreira and Blunck now have the two podium finishes need to make the Olympic team, but must wait until the final event next week at Mammoth Mountain, California, since no more than three athletes qualify that way.
Wise’s win matched his result at the second selection event, the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, and provided further proof that he’s returning to his form from 2014.
Wise, who is from Reno, Nevada, has been battling through concussions and other injuries over the past two seasons, which led to disappointing results for the father of two.
Wise finished eighth at the first Olympic qualifier last February at Mammoth Mountain, California, and prior to Copper he had not won a major halfpipe event since 2014. He did not reach the podium at all last season.
But the 2013 world champion, who won his first national title when he was just 15 years old, is showing the marks of an athlete ready to reclaim his place at the top. In a pool of talented skiers, he is now just one of four who will ultimately compete for Team USA in men’s halfpipe skiing next month.