The countdown to Sochi, Russia, is on for David Wise, 23, the two-time X Games gold medalist in ski halfpipe. In February, halfpipe skiing will make its Olympic debut, and few are more poised for the magnitude of the moment than Reno, Nev., native Wise. With just over 100 days until the opening ceremonies, we spoke to Wise about family, freedom and freeskiing.
I've been married for, well, it's coming right up on three years. And my little girl just turned 2. I never expected to be a young dad or even a young husband. I always thought I'd settle down when it [suited] me, when [I was] done being a crazy guy. But I found someone who I knew would enrich my life. That made the decision easy.
Certain things in life aren't as important as you think they are. Having a family gives you a lot of perspective. All the small things that we get caught up in, like money, schedules and meetings, they don't have nearly as much merit as having a family. That's really the most important thing.
All the success that I gain skiing is just a bonus.
I do spend a lot of time on the road, but when I'm home, I'm home. I don't have a nine-to-five job.
My daughter is really tough. And she's a little bit of a free spirit like me. We strapped her into skis last year and I skied around with her in between my legs. She's 2 now and she's getting so good at stuff.
There are a lot of things I like about halfpipe skiing. It's the perfect combination of something that is really intense and really fun. But it is pretty free. It isn't like moguls or aerials where we have a [regimen], techniques or styles that we have to use. You can still go out and do things in a pipe that are completely different from how anybody else does them.
As long as you make it look cool, it still gets respect.
The Olympics contributed to my success the last couple of seasons. As soon as I found out that the sport was in the Olympics, I immediately switched my strategy. Until then, the X Games were the biggest thing we had and my main goal was to ski as well as I could by X Games.
I didn't want to throw all my cards on the table. It only gives my competitors a chance to catch up. I held a few things back and I've been working on a lot of things more slowly instead of just hammering myself into the ground learning new tricks.
The art of the sport is equally as important as the progression.
I have a formula that works for me. I work out a ton, I ride my bike a ton, but I've always done that. To say that I'm approaching the sport differently would be silly.
The Olympics are just another couple of runs through the halfpipe -- with millions of people watching.
Why do we create motorcycles, cars and send people to the moon? We, as people, want to do something that has never been done before, and that is what is really cool about skiing. We have that available to us because there are a lot of things that have not been done before. We are still exploring. We're trying to figure out what it is we can and cannot do.
If we allow the Olympics to change our sport, then we are responsible for it, ultimately. The judges and FIS [the International Ski Federation] can say what they want, but what we do and what the world sees us do is going to shape how the world thinks about freeskiing.
It's cool to do back-to-back-to-back double combinations or something progressive, but at the same time you have to show style and edginess of what our sport is. Whenever I create a run, I always try to include some style trick, something that's a 540 or less.
We don't want it to look like a huckfest.
I'll pursue halfpipe skiing as long as I'm passionate about it. I know guys that have been doing it for a long time and they're pretty jaded about it. I still enjoy every moment. As long as it feels like I'm adding something to the sport, I'm going to keep doing it.
Outside of skiing, I could be best described as an outdoorsman. I especially love hunting and fishing and mountain biking. Those are the top three for me. Anything I can do that's outside satisfies my soul.
I get cooped up if I spend too much time inside. I get edgy.
It's a lot of pressure to represent the United States. No longer am I just representing myself. For one contest, I'm representing all the people in my life that invested in me along the way -- family, teachers, trainers, coaches -- and then I'm also representing the country that raised me and made me who I am.