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U.S. skier David Wise captures gold medal at first-ever Olympic skiing halfpipe

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David Wise, who lives in Reno and trains at Northstar California ski resort in Lake Tahoe, captured the gold medal in the first-ever skiing halfpipe at the Winter Olympics.

Sloppy conditions that didn’t slow down Wise, the pre-event favorite who lived up to the hype. The 23-year-old Wise managed to tame the halfpipe that prevented most skiers from reaching their usual amplitude.

Wise was one of the few to throw down double-cork jumps and 1080-degree spins en route to his gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Wise is not the typical young, carefree guy making his living by doing daring halfpipe tricks. He is married and has a 2-year-old daughter, Nayeli.

Wise dubbed “The unDude”
The New York Times called him “The UnDude” because Wise rarely parties and is so socially conscious that he takes 10 percent of his winnings – that other competitors often use to provide drinks for other skiers – and donates it to water projects in the Dominican Republic, where his sister Jessica periodically works.

Wise says his family grounds him, which he credits as part of his success. The Lake Tahoe product captured gold medals at the past three Winter X Games, the last one coming in late January.

“When I first won the X Games, I wrote on my jacket, ‘embrace the opportunity’ with a paint marker so that I would remind myself every time before I dropped in,” Wise said. “It’s not about winning or losing or what people think of you. It’s about you going out and doing what you love to do – your art. You have an opportunity, so just go, and embrace it. So, yeah, I always look at that before I drop in. And then I drop.”

Blow-up photo of Wise’s daughter
Wise's wife, Alexandra, brought a blown-up photo of their daughter – a frequent companion at his competitions – and stuck it on a flat stick at the bottom of the halfpipe location.

Following Wise's qualifying round, he grabbed the prop and planted a big kiss on Nayeli's left cheek.
Wise scored a 92 on his first run, putting him in first place. On his second run, he hit the lip of the pipe on his first trick. He then had to watch and wait to find out if he would win gold until Canadian Justin Dorey came down the pipe.

Dorey fell midway through his run, clinching gold for Wise. Mike Riddle of Canada won the silver medal and Kevin Rolland of France took bronze.

It was the 20th medal for the United States, which tied the Netherlands atop the overall medal count. Earlier in the day, American Alex Deibold won bronze in men’s snowboardcross.

Men’s Skiing Halfpipe Results

● David Wise, USA 1,000
● Mike Riddle, CAN 800
● Kevin Rolland, FRA 600
4th Josiah Wells, NZL 500

Skiing halfpipe a nighttime event
The nighttime competition capped a day of low clouds and bursts of rain at the mountain venues. It was the rare competition at these Winter Olympics that looked wintry.

Officials held umbrellas over many of the skiers as they waited to take their turns in the halfpipe, and the wet snow left them soaked by the time they reached the bottom.

Crews spent much of the time trying to keep the halfpipe from melting into a pool of slush. They repeatedly sprinkled it with salt and sprayed it with water from large hoses to help the soft snow refreeze into a smoother surface.

American skier Aaron Blunck improved to 79.40 on his second run and finished 7th overall.

“Dave (Wise) is right now on top of the sport. He’s the best. He’s proven it multiple times,'' Blunck said. “He comes out in any condition and has amazing fun. He’s the dad out of the (U.S.) group. So no matter what he does, we’re proud of him.'”

In Tuesday’s qualifications there were 29 skiers vying for 12 spots in the finals.

U.S. skier Torin Yater-Wallace fell on both runs and did not get a spot in the final.

Another American skier – Lyman Currier – fell on his first run and on the second one landed his trick, but ended in the sitting position with his body twisted. Medical personnel went up the halfpipe, but after a few moments Currier skied down.

Women’s skiing halfpipe
Maddie Bowman, who skis out of Sierra-at-Tahoe, will be among the field at Thursday’s women’s skiing halfpipe competition.

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