Commentary

David Wise wins Ski SuperPipe

Originally Published: January 28, 2012
By Devon O'Neil and John Symms | ESPN.com

ASPEN, Colo. -- Showcasing halfpipe skiing's new "it" trick, the switch double flip, David Wise won his first Winter X Games gold medal Saturday to unseat two-time defending champion Kevin Rolland of France. Wise -- the oldest man on the podium at age 21 -- is the first American to win gold in Men's Skiing SuperPipe since Tanner Hall in 2008. He won with a 93-point second run.

Noah Bowman, a 19-year-old Canadian who was added to the field as an alternate, claimed silver (90.00) with a switch double flip of his own. Aspen local Torin Yater-Wallace, 16, followed up his surprising silver medal last year by taking bronze this year (89.66).

"It's been a Frenchy sweep for a while now, so to come out and ski well and have an all-North American podium is sweet," said Wise, who qualified first Friday night.

David WiseJoshua Duplechian/ESPNDavid Wise, 21, beat out youngsters Noah Bowman, 19, and Torin Yater-Wallace, 16, for gold.

The back-and-forth final featured three lead changes and one of the gnarliest crashes in years when Canadian Justin Dorey smashed the icy pipe lip on a switch double flip attempt moments before Wise landed his winning run. Both of Dorey's skis flew into the air and his limp body crumpled to the flat bottom. He later walked away from the crash and escaped with just a left shoulder injury, but the sight of his crash left Wise rattled.

"Dorey fell on the trick that I was most scared of in my run," Wise said, "so it was kind of nerve-racking to see him fall right before me and really blast himself." Asked what he told himself before dropping in, Wise said: "Just take a moment and refocus. Tell yourself it's just another run. All the outside influences don't matter. Every run is one run of you and the halfpipe."

Before winning gold Saturday, Wise's biggest prior win came at the second-tier European Open last spring. He'd finished no better than sixth thus far this season following the birth of his daughter, Nayeli, in October. But no one could match his combination of amplitude and technicality in the Buttermilk pipe, where he opened with a switch double 1080 and ended with a double cork 1260 mute.

Bowman didn't go as high as Wise, but the 2010 junior world champion linked the most technical tricks of the day, including three consecutive switch hits: switch 900, switch alley-oop double 900 and switch 720. "I just learned [the switch alley-oop double] one or two days ago in practice," Bowman said. "I'd been working on it on the airbag in Whistler right before I came here. It felt like it was going to work out and it turns out it did, so I'm pumped."

Rolland settled for fourth, despite landing back-to-back-to-back double flips, and was followed by Americans Tucker Perkins and Simon Dumont.

Check out full results from the Men's Skiing SuperPipe finals.

Devon O'Neil is a freelance writer who writes for ESPN.com Action Sports.

Devon O'Neil

Writer, Action Sports
O'Neil was raised in the Virgin Islands before dropping anchor to ski, write, and combine the two for profit. He now lives in Breckenridge, Colo.