U.S. freeskier David Wise is heading to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, with even more momentum than he garners in the halfpipe.
With his wife and daughter looking on, Wise, the two-time reigning X Games Men’s Ski SuperPipe champion, made it a three-peat at the X Games Friday night for the first time since Tanner Hall did so six years ago. The win puts him on solid footing heading into halfpipe skiing's debut in Sochi in February, making him a clear favorite to add yet another gold medal to his high-flying mantle.
“I wasn’t completely satisfied with my first run, so I wanted to up it, do a little bit better," says Wise. "The field is super strong. It's been a long road this year, but I had a great night."
Kevin Rolland, who will represent France in Sochi, took second, and American Alex Ferreira placed third.
At the end of two runs, Wise could only watch from the top as competitor after competitor tried to unseat his nearly flawless 90-point second run. X Games rookie Lyman Currier came perhaps the closest, tallying a great score until hitting the massive SuperPipe's lip and falling on a double cork 1260 on his very last hit.
Sitting in second place before the last run, Rolland gave it his all to dethrone Wise, only to lose his ski on his last jump. Finally, after Ferreira turned to the scoreboard after his blistering run--including a 1080, switch down-the-pipe 720, double cork 1260, double down-the-pipe flatspin 900, and another 1080--it was enough to move him only into third place overall.
For Wise, this meant that all that was left for him to do was a victory lap. And in typical Wise fashion, even with nothing on the line Wise bested his earlier 90-point run with a new high score of 92.
"He's pretty unstoppable," says Aspen local Torin Yater-Wallace, a former X Games silver medalist who will compete with Wise in Sochi.
For the women, Ski SuperPipe gold went to U.S. Olympic team member and defending X Games champion Maddie Bowman, putting her in the catbird's seat heading into Sochi as well. Canada's Roz Groenewoud won silver, and French skier Marie Martinod took bronze.
“I’m on top of the world right now,” Bowman says. “The biggest thing was just coming out here and having fun, and focusing on the skiing.”
Unlike the men's division, all eight of the Women’s Ski SuperPipe competitors in Friday’s final are Sochi-bound, making this year’s X Games quite the Olympics preview. In her first contest of the season after a knee injury, Groenewoud, the X Games Aspen 2012 gold medalist, led after the first of three runs, but Bowman bumped ahead after her second run with a score of 88.66, which was enough to hold up for the win.
“I'm excited to go to Russia with all these girls,” Bowman said. “There’s such good camaraderie.”
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