David Wise of Reno, Nevada, became the first Olympian to win the gold medal in the men’s halfpipe skiing event, a sport that was debuted at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Wise became a legend overnight and introduced the world to the gravity-defying sport, where the skiier drops into a massive two-story-deep snow ravine, flies up into the air to performs several flips and twists, and continues to do this throughout the halfpipe until he lands in the snow.
X Games commentators described Wise, the AFP reigning champion, as “the epitome of perfection.” He’s won no less than five X Games medals (including three golds), won second in the 2012 AFP World Tour, and has remained the reigning world champion since 2013.
Wise stands out though, not solely because he is a world-class athlete, but also because he is a committed Christian, husband and father. In 2014 he told Crossmap that,
I definitely get singled out because I don’t live the same lifestyle. I go to the parties, but I’m not there from bell to bell. I get a little heat for it from the industry, but my thing from the beginning was that I’m not going to let this sport change who I am. I’m going to do the best I can to be a big part of the sport, but who I am is who I am.
His teammates look up to him though, news reports reveal. And they know that Wise faces the pressure of competing because of his Christian faith. Wise told the Denver Post that it’s his faith that grounds him while he is flying through the air. In his interview with Crossmap, he explained,
When you ski into a halfpipe, the first thing anybody says is ‘Wow, this thing is huge.’ When you see it on television it doesn’t quite give you the perspective, but when you stand in the middle and there’s a 22-foot wall in front of you, and you realize people are flying up out of that, it’s pretty intimidating.
Faith plays a huge role because it enables me to be confident. I don’t have to worry about what’s happening or the outside influences as much because I feel like I can trust God, and he’s going to see me through. I can look back on my path and realize that God had a pretty significant part in taking care of me. It takes the pressure off and I can enjoy it.
In-between sporting events, training, and competitions Wise shares his faith with others and offers encouragement to fellow Christian athletes, including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). He said:
FCA is a cool thing. I think that a lot of athletes feel isolated and feel that there aren’t a lot of Christians in sports. It’s cool to see an organization like FCA bringing us all together, and you realize that there are actually a lot of Christians in these sports. I do my part as best I can. I go and speak at schools around Reno that have FCA.
Now 27, and a father of two children, Wise will attempt to defend his gold medal in the halfpipe at PyeongChang.
Watch David Wise compete in the freeski halfpipe qualifying run on February 19 and the final on February 21. Follow him on Twitter at @MrDavidWise.
Watch Wise win the gold medal in the Men’s Ski SuperPipe at the 2018 X Games held in Aspen, where he performs stunts no one else has: