Interview With David Wise, 2014 U.S. Olympics Gold Medalist in Ski Halfpipe:

What was it like coming home from Sochi? What happened at the airport?
David: It's been crazy. The local community has just totally gone nuts in such a supportive way. I've never felt more embraced by a community in my whole life. They showed up at the airport, probably 500 strong. Who knows. There was a crowd there all cheering for me. The governor was there. The mayor was there. They'd thrown a huge party... So cool to be embraced like a hero on my way in.
You were 10 years old when you started skiing?
David: I always liked to fly when I was little. I liked to jump off stuff. Jump on the trampoline, just spend as much time in the air as I could. I grew up ski racing. My dad -- that was obviously his world -- was a ski racer. He kind of expected me to do that or wanted me to. When I was 10 or 11, I found out that there was a freestyle team at the same mountain as the race team I was on. I was like Dad, you gotta let me try this. It took a lot of convincing. My coach Clay Beck played a huge role in convincing my parents that I wasn't just going to throw myself around and die.
When you're in the air, is every move calculated so you know precisely where you are from Earth to ground?
David: To the untrained eye, it looks like I'm just out there flinging myself around. But everything I do is really calculated. I know where I am most of the time. You have to have good air awareness in knowing where you are. And you have to be able to make adjustments all the time. It's not like I can do a certain trick exactly a certain way and it'll happen every time. You have a takeoff and you make adjustments in the air as you're flying through.
Tell me about the night before the competition. Nerve-wracking day?
David: I was pretty calm. The nice thing for me is that I knew I did all the preparation. I never skipped a day of training... Going into the day of competition, I was just trying to keep it calm, not worry too much and just go out and enjoy the ride.
Then you see the weather that day and it's pretty crappy... did you change what you originally planned?
David: The conditions on the day of the contest were about as bad as you could ask for for a halfpipe competition. It was fresh snow on top of slush and fog and rain mixed in there. So it was just the slowest type of snow you could imagine. It takes a lot of speed to do the big tricks that we do. Obviously going high in the air is part of the sport. I was not excited about the fact it was snowing. I was hoping they were going to maybe postpone the event, but when it's the Olympics, they just can't postpone something very easily.
When you saw the scores coming in... when did it dawn on you that you did it?
David: My first run, I knew that if I was carrying enough speed, I was going to end with another double cork. I did a double cork earlier in the run... so when I was able to pull it off and land it, I just kind of had a moment where I was like 'Wow, for today, that's a really good run.' I was really excited.

Then I actually crashed on my second run. So I had to sit there and watch one of the best guys in the world, Justin Dorey, right after me. Sort of a nerve-wracking moment. I was like, oh man, is he going to land his run or not? He kind of skidded out. And it was just like overwhelming. Like wow, it's over. I just won the Olympics.
At YP, we're about the doer. It seems like you've been a doer your entire life...
David: Yeah, I think if you said anything about me, it's that I set to something I want to do and I do everything to go out and get it. That's the kind of person that I am. I always want to live my life with no regrets. I work hard and if I fall short, then I have regrets. But I go out and give it everything I have.
What's next after the Olympics?
David: I'm excited for this year to just be able to go out and do a little bit of shooting with some of my sponsors and a bunch of filming. And just kind of focusing on the style side of the sport. I've competed a lot this year and I have the whole rest of the season to get into the backcountry and do maybe an AK [Alaska] trip, something like that. Enjoy the other side of the sport.
How has a gold medal changed your lifestyle?
David: It's funny 'cause I've had success on almost every level of the sport. I've won the X Games, I've won the World Championships, I've won the Dew Tour... all these things, but nothing matters to the mainstream world as much as a gold medal. A lot of people care a lot more about what I have to say. It's just funny to me because I keep turning to my wife and friends to say I'm the same person that I was two weeks ago, but now all of sudden everybody wants to listen to what I have to say.
What is it about Reno and Tahoe that there are so many Olympians coming from this area?
David: Man, it's just a great place to live. For me, the reason I like this place so much is that there's a little bit of everything here. You can go mountain biking, you can go to the lake, you can ski, you can go fishing, hunting, hiking. All of the outdoorsy stuff I like to do. I'm never bored.
What's your top highlight from Sochi besides winning the gold medal?
David: For me, the whole Olympic experience was amazing. We were fortunate we kind of competed toward the end of the Olympics... me and fellow teammates were able to go watch all of the other events. See some hockey games, and sit ringside at a hockey game. Go and watch the ice skaters and the alpine events. It was just really good to be there supporting Team USA.
What's tougher, fatherhood or performing the double cork in front of a worldwide audience?
David: I don't think either of them are tough. I look at fatherhood as just another adventure. Another task to do. And something that requires a lot of responsibility. But at the same time is such a joy. Such a treat to be able to spend time with my daughter and just watch her grow up. It's the same thing as what I like to do with my sport and my art. People will look at it as difficult, but my dream has always been to take things that are scary and exciting... and not be scared of them anymore.
When people ask you what your dad does for a business, how do you describe it?
David: It's always kind of funny 'cause his title is environment consultant. And people are always like what is that? So I just say he deals with asbestos and mold and lead and radon -- all these things in buildings and structures that you don't want or you need to get rid of. He's the consultant for those things.
Tell me about your experiences working at this family business?
David: As soon as I was old enough to really be able to play a role in the company, my dad brought me on 'cause I needed the cash to support traveling around the world. He's always allowed me to work for him when I need to. And it's just been really cool... I've learned a lot from his business about business and about dealing with people in general. He honestly let me have probably more responsibility than I should've had at that age. That was kind of his way of saying you can handle this. I was running whole surveys and being the head inspector for a lot of things. It was like wow, this is not what a 19-year-old kid would be doing normally. He kind of thrust me into it and I don't think he's too disappointed with how I did.
Tell us, what was the catalyst for starting We Say Water?
David: There's this tradition in skiing (and action sports in general) where if you win a contest, you're supposed to take 10-percent of your winnings and put it on your bar tab and have a great party with your friends. So my wife and I kind of made a play on that. We started an organization called We Say Water, where we take 10-percent of my winnings and my fellow athlete's winnings (who want to join) and turn it into clean drinking for people... You've got to fulfill people's base needs before you can try to help them any other way.
Free association game. Say the first thing that pops into your head when it comes to your favorite...
Local ski shop:
David: Bobo's

Place to show off your gold medal:
David: The Peppermill

Place to lay low:
David: The Mountains

Hotel to get snowed in at:
David: The Mammoth Mountain Inn

Place to pick up Pampers in a pinch:
David: Walmart

Ski resorts:

1. Northstar
2. Alpine
3. Mammoth
4. Squaw Valley
5. Whistler
Sochi Olympic Gold Medalist, David Wise
Find out more about David Wise at his website. Or follow him on Twitter @MrDavidWise.

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