Team USA's David Wise won the first-ever Olympic halfpipe men's ski final on Tuesday, posting a first-heat score of 92.00, besting Canada's Mike Riddle (90.60) and France's Kevin Rolland (88.6). What's more, he pulled off the final's biggest score amidst blustery, miserable conditions.
"I'm still trying to believe this whole crazy thing," the 23-year-old told reporters. "I feel so proud to be part of this sport and to stand at the top of the podium is just amazing."
Even though Wise's best run came on his first heat, the second-heat of the 12-man final wasn't without drama. Having already guaranteed himself a silver medal, Wise was the second-to-last skier to hit the pipe at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. He caught the lip of the pipe with his left ski after his first pass, ending any shot he had at improving his first-run score. Wise probably benefitted from establishing himself in the lead as the conditions continued to deteriorate.
"It was really unfortunate," Wise told Reuters. "I had all these crazy amazing runs that I wanted to do here at the Olympics but if you can't get the speed you can't do the tricks that you want to do.
"Unfortunately, I had to change my run. The run I completed was like plan C or D even but that's just the way it goes, you've got to adjust and do the best you can."
The only man left who could supplant Wise as the inaugural gold-medal winner was Canada's Justin Dorey, who finished in first place after Tuesday's qualifying with a score of 91.6.
Fortunately for Wise, after linking two successful tricks together, Dorey stumbled with the landing on his third pass, granting Wise the gold medal. The Reno, Nevada native is also fresh off his third-straight X-Games title in the halfpipe.
The only other American to make the finals, Colorado's Aaron Blunck, finished seventh after barely qualifying for the medal round.
Wise, 23, stood at the bottom of the pipe draped in an American flag knowing that he'd just made history.