Wise of U.S. makes history with ski halfpipe gold

  • By Lisa Dillman Los Angeles Times
  • Tuesday, February 18, 2014 4:53pm
  • SportsSports

SOCHI, Russia — For Christy Wise and her younger brother David, it wasn’t enough just to watch the movie “Mary Poppins.”

The kids from Reno wanted to live it and decided to jump off the roof with an umbrella. Christy’s twin sister, Jessica, wisely let them take the plunge first.

“Mary Poppins is just a bad movie for adventurous kids,” Christy said, looking amused. “We had a trampoline and had all sorts of ideas.”

Big ideas, big dreams.

Forget the umbrella. David Wise had his skis to do the job Tuesday night at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, propelling him through the wet, snowy air and a difficult halfpipe routine straight to an Olympic gold medal.

This was a slice of history: the first ski halfpipe event at the Olympics. Wise’s score of 92.00 points on his first run held up, edging Mike Riddle of Canada (90.60). Kevin Rolland of France took the bronze with 88.60 points.

“It’s amazing. It’s always rough when the conditions aren’t perfect and you don’t get to do the runs you were hoping to do,” Wise said of the wet day and night on the mountain. “I’ve had a ‘Sochi run’ on my mind for a long time that I really wanted to throw down tonight. But you guys will just have to wait till next year to see that one.”

Wise’s family — his parents, his wife, Lexi, and his twin sisters — made up part of a big cheering section for the charismatic 23-year-old, who has been at the top of the sport since becoming a father two years ago. There was a heartfelt rendition of the national anthem from the family after he won gold.

David and Lexi’s daughter, Nayeli, did not make the trip. But a large photo of her, which was attached to a wooden stick, was held up by Lexi.

“She’s 2 years old, so it’s a little bit too much for her to come,” Lexi said. “We brought her to all the events this year. But she’s just so over it. She tells me, every time we got to the bottom of the halfpipe for the X Games, ‘Momma, I don’t want to put my gloves on.’ She doesn’t want to be out in the cold waiting.

“I don’t blame her. It’s cold. My feet are freezing.”

David’s results got better, not so coincidentally, after Nayeli was born. He has won three consecutive titles at the X Games and was widely considered the favorite in Sochi.

Wise’s father Tom talked about his son’s commitment to his family, sport and country, adding: “He’s a gold medalist too. I forgot that part.”

The ever-shifting weather conditions forced Wise to change strategy. Lousy conditions may have prevented the skiers from throwing their best tricks but it turned the event into a thinking man’s game.

“Still to be able to do both double corks, even though it was slow and kind of a tough night, was still a huge accomplishment for me,” Wise said.

If this wasn’t a “Sochi run,” what was it?

“This was Run C. Or Run C combined partly with Run B,” Wise said. “I was changing my run from moment to moment during practices just because the conditions were always changing. Sometimes it was fast, sometimes it was slow. Being adaptable was a huge advantage for me tonight.”

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