KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – If David Wise's 2-year-old daughter couldn't be here to see her daddy win a gold medal in halfpipe skiing for the United States, he wanted to make sure she knew he was thinking of her during one of the biggest moments of his great career.
The 23-year-old Wise braved driving snow and a slushy halfpipe to capture gold in the Olympics' first halfpipe skiing contest Tuesday night, salvaging a disappointing showing by a United States team that harbored hopes of a medal sweep. With Torin Yater-Wallace and Lyman Currier failing to advance to the finals, and 17-year-old Aaron Blunck finishing seventh, Wise more than picked up the slack – and found time to pay homage to little Nayeli.
[Photos: Men's freestyle skiing halfpipe final]
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. Following Wise's qualifying round, he grabbed the prop and planted a big kiss on Nayeli's left cheek.
Wise, from Reno, Nev., entered the competition as one of the favorites, coming off three consecutive X Games gold medals. His gold continued the United States' strong run in action-sports events at the Sochi Games. Team USA now owes 11 of its 20 medals to snowboarding and freeskiing: five gold, two silver and four bronze.
[Photos: Team USA's Sochi Games report card]
Wise posted the high score of 92 with his first run then watched as it held up. Canada's Mike Riddle and France's Kevin Rolland won silver and bronze.
The sloppy halfpipe, a problem throughout the week, prevented most skiers from reaching their usual amplitude. Wise managed to tame the pipe, one of the few to throw double-cork jumps and 1080-degree spins, and will have a nice little toy for Nayeli when he gets home: an Olympic gold medal.
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