When 22-year-old David Wise won Winter X Games gold in 2012, he was the first father to stand atop the superpipe podium. His wife Alexandra and daughter Nayeli were there to celebrate. The Reno, NV native has the tricks, the amplitude, and after finishing second in the AFP superpipe race last season, he certainly has the confidence to take the title this year.
We checked in with David to talk skiing, family and the road ahead.
What’s the problem with halfpipe skis? A lot of manufacturers get away with making cheaper, less powerful skis. In the park, you go through a pair of skis every two months, so a lot of people don’t see the need for a high-performance ski. They use lower quality cores and not as much fiberglass.
What’s it been like creating a ski with 4FRNT? I wanted a ski that was designed specifically for what we do in the halfpipe. I told Matt Sterbenz [of 4FRNT] my vision, and with their engineering and building expertise, we came up with four prototypes. We tested, picked the best one and kept honing it in. The skis I won X Games on were round-three prototypes. Each ski got better and more effective. We played around to find that perfect amount of stiffness—you need enough for power and solid landings—but it has to have enough play to be fun. We went with a full maple core. It’s pricier, but it’s more solid.
What’s it like to have a signature ski? It’s really cool, kind of funny. Starting off with those guys, it was brought up. I told them I didn’t feel like it was worth it for them to put my name on a pair of skis. After I won X and a Dew Tour stop, they pulled me aside and said, “What do you think now?” I said, “OK.”
What kind of competitor are you? I like to try to keep it relaxed. If you’re too intense, you don’t perform well. I like to crack jokes at the top, but when it’s time to drop in, there’s a concentrated, focused moment. When I hit the top of the wall, everything else is gone. I don’t hear the crowd or the music. It’s just me and the halfpipe.
What events are the most important to you? Looking back, winning X Games was a pivotal moment. It was this perfect moment, where I was doing it 100 percent for the love of sport rather than trying to win or make money. That was a turning point. That’s going to be my approach from now on. The Olympics are where we have our sights. I’m excited for it, for the good of the sport. We’re being careful to keep our sport’s soul intact. It’s going to be so cool for the world to get a glimpse into our world. I hope to be there to represent my sport and my country.
What drives you outside of the competition scene? What I really love about action sports is that we’re at the forefront of what is humanly possible. There are people on all different fronts pushing the sport—big-mountain competitors, the mountaineering guys, rails… There’s innovation everywhere. That’s what drives me.
What tricks are you working on? I always have something in the works. If people are nipping at my heels, I have to do something about it. I have some things in the bag for this season.
Who do you look up to? What’s cool about skiing is that everybody has something they do that is really inspiring. I look up to [Justin] Dorey for his technical difficulty and how many unique tricks he can do. I look up to Andreas [Håtveit] for his personality. He’s always happy when he’s skiing. And to Tanner [Hall] because he was one of the fathers of our sport.
What’s it like being a father and competing? Being a father is a lot more natural than people think it is. People say I’m so young and I travel so much, but it’s really not that hard. It’s just another part of life. I love my family, and I love what I do. Both get equal attention and neither draws from the other. It’s an aspect of life I didn’t expect, but it has enriched my life. During contest season, so much time away can be draining, so we travel together as much as we can.