David Wise made history on Tuesday when he became the first person to earn a gold medal in men's freestyle skiing halfpipe at the Winter Olympics. His score of 92.00 was more than enough to top the competition in Sochi, Russia, even in the midst of questionable weather conditions.
Per the United States Olympic team:
Canada's Mike Riddle won silver, and France's Kevin Rolland won bronze.
NBCOlympics.com's Skyler Wilder snapped a photo of the final leaderboard as the winners received their flowers:
Here are the full results.
|Freestyle Skiing Halfpipe|
|Gold||David Wise||United States||92.00|
|4||Josiah Wells||New Zealand||85.60|
|6||Beau-James Wells||New Zealand||80.00|
|7||Aaron Blunck||United States||79.40|
|9||Lyndon Sheehan||New Zealand||72.60|
The skiers competed in snowy conditions that slowed down the course and limited the ability of the competitors to push their limits, as Wise discussed (via Lindsay H. Jones and Rachel Axon of USA Today)
"I was really hoping for a good, clean, fast halfpipe tonight so we could really put on a show, but honestly I'm proud of all the guys here, because everyone threw down, regardless," Wise said. "While I am a little disappointed I didn't get to do my epic Sochi run that I wanted to do, it was a big night for freeskiing.
Wise's success was all the more pivotal in terms of the medal count when considering two of the United States' heavy hitters were knocked out in qualification earlier in the night. Costly crashes derailed both Torin Yater-Wallace and Lyman Currier's hopes of making it to the final round and winning a medal.
Aaron Blunck was the only other American in the final, and he never looked to be a medal threat. He finished seventh overall.
That meant the hopes of the U.S. were all pinned on Wise, and fortunately for his country, he came through.
His win was not without plenty of drama, though.
A crash on his second run meant Wise would have to hope that his first run would be enough to see him through.
Canada's Justin Dorey, who finished first during the qualification round and is considered by many to be the best halfpipe skier in the world, was the last competitor on the slope, so Wise was sitting back and banking on a world-class skier messing up twice in a row.
A crash in his first run meant that Dorey still had plenty left undone. He'd be saving everything for that second run, per Canada's Olympic team:
The 25-year-old had been putting together an impressive string of tricks, but after a jump, he landed off-balance and eventually hit the snow about midway through the run. He would earn a 14.20 and gift the gold medal to Wise.
Looking at how everything was set up to have two of the best halfpipe skiers go head-to-head, the ending to the event was a bit anticlimactic.
It wasn't all bad news for Team Canada, though, as they had the silver medalist, Riddle.
After what was an average first run, in which he posted a 71.40, Riddle had the best score in the second run with 90.60. Although it wasn't enough to unseat Wise, a silver medal is something to be proud of.
An interesting storyline to follow during the event was the performances of the Wells brothers, Josiah and Beau-James, since it's always entertaining to see a little sibling rivalry at the Olympics. Both had qualified for the final, and even in the event that neither medaled, one would have bragging rights for four years.
When all was said and done, Josiah would finish higher, as his first-run score of 85.60 was enough to keep him in fourth place, as Jason Stahl of NBCOlympics.com shared:
Beau-James would have to settle for sixth place and what will likely be constant razzing from his big brother.
Wise's win gives the United States its sixth gold medal of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which is tied for third with the Netherlands. The Americans also go into a tie with the Dutch for the overall lead, with each country boasting a medal haul of 20.
This is also only the beginning for Wise. At 23 years old, the Reno native has at least one more Olympics to prove himself on the world stage. However, regardless of how he performs in the future, he will always be known as the first gold medalist in the history of the competition, marking his place in history.