The Peak Performer
David Wise was supposed to be a ski racer — one of those skin-suit-wearing speedsters bashing ski gates and rocketing down icy race courses.
There was just one problem. In a sport that rewards aerodynamic tucks low to the snow, Wise had a love affair with the air.
“Even when I was a racer, I liked being off the ground more than anything else,” says Wise. “Rather than absorbing the takeoffs and staying as close to the ground as I could, I would pop off the takeoffs and spend as much time in the air as possible.”
It became clear that Wise’s destiny was not to give in to gravity the way ski racers harness it to speed down alpine courses, but to fight it. He wanted to use his skis as a means to fly.
Wise hung up his race skis and threw himself into the sport of halfpipe skiing. He’s never looked back. An intense work ethic, an inherent creativity and a powerful focus brought him to the world’s biggest skiing stages. And he’s collected the highest honors the sport can bestow. Two Olympic gold medals. Four X Games gold medals. And countless other accolades.
Along the way, the sport has also doled out painful lessons, along with international skiing fame.
He’s paid the price for pushing the limits.
Injuries and the subsequent road to recovery is now a well-worn path for the Olympian.
But each time, he’s ascended back to the peak of this demanding and exhilarating sport.
What does it take to reach the top not once, but time and time again? To rebuild muscle, mend bone, relearn seemingly impossible flips, spins and grabs? To fight the force of gravity over and over again?
It takes tenacity, but also mental clarity. It takes athleticism, but also artistry. It takes balance, but also the singular focus to keep pushing the sport forward.
“I have to be constantly changing the game. I have to be constantly finding that next edge and just growing. Growing my own strengths, and losing some of those weaknesses,” says Wise. “That's what makes it fun, that's what makes it an adventure.”
The skiing world is waiting to see what David Wise will do next.
The ski racer who couldn’t keep his skis on the snow is sure to uncork new, imaginative and wildly creative tricks at competitions for years to come.
Because despite all the things he’s accomplished on skis, there’s still uncharted airspace to explore.
“Somewhere along the way I stopped pursuing gold medals and I started treating it like my creative outlet. I started wanting to do things on skis that have never been done before, and that had nothing to do with the gold medals,” says Wise. “I still have some things that I've left undone.”
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