US snowboarder David Wise won the first ever gold medal in the freeski halfpipe in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The 23-year-old American scored 92 points even though the conditions were awful. Rain and snow poured on the already poor halfpipe. The warm weather forced officials to use fake snow, which turns to ice when it was cold at night. Then the rain made the snow/ice slush and the fog made it hard for boarders to see.
Wise did see his two-year-old daughter’s face. His family members were holding up her picture.
“To see that face looking back up at me was cool,” Wise said.
Canada’s Mike Riddle was only 1.4 points behind Wise. France’s Kevin Rolland won the bronze.
The conditions during the Olympics made Wise nervous. The halfpipe was under intense scrutiny by many, including star snowboarder Shaun White, and the slush and fog only made it worse. Unfortunately for Wise, they did not allow him to use all of his moves.
Instead, he went with his most dependable jumps: 2½ spins; two flips with 3½ spins; back-to-back 720-degree spins; then another two-flip, 1260-degree move. Some went 14-15 feet above the halfpipe. Most had fancy grabs of the skis that the judges love. All had rock-solid landings that win gold medals.
Now he can put his gold medal next to his three straight Winter X-Games championships. But to him nothing tops being a husband and father. That is his biggest accomplishment.
“I can go and ski my heart out, but that doesn’t necessarily define who I am,” he said. “Being a good husband and father is more important. I can have passion with both things and it provides balance.”