David Wise is looking to triple in the Olympic freeski halfpipe, an event that has never had another gold medalist. The Nevadan is a father of two and an avid hunter, archer and outdoorsman. He broke his femur a year after PyeongChang but did not return to competition until seven months later.
As part of our preparation for the 2022 Games, NBC Olympics sent questionnaires to several athletes to find out more about their lives on and off the snow or ice. Here’s what we discovered on Wise:
David Wise, Freeskiing
Event: Half Moon
Place of birth: Reno, Nevada
Hometown: Reno, Nevada
Residence: Reno, Nevada
@mrDavidWise | mrdavidwise
SEE MORE: American freeskier David Wise’s home is the best place in the world
Family and education
Tell us about your family.
❝I have a wife, Alexandra, and two children: Nayeli, 9 years old and Malachi, 6 years old.❞
To what extent did your parents influence your sporting aspirations?
❝Very influential. I don’t think they like the fact that I chose halfpipe skiing, but they were always supportive. We spent all our extra money and vacation time traveling to ski for me and my sisters.❞
Parental effect on training?
❝People often ask me how I balance a family and being a professional athlete. For me, my family is balance. I am naturally competitive and dedicated and sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to perform.
My family reminds me that there is more to life than what I do on a pair of skis. I know that no accolade or gold medal will add to my happiness or joy unless I can be happy and joyful with what I already have.
Do you have another job?
❝Professional hunter/guide/outdoor enthusiast. Little farmer with my family at Wise OTG.❞
Do you have pets?
Yes, 20 chickens and a cat.
How has being in the army influenced your career?
❝My sister is a major in the US Air Force. She is the only female above-knee amputee to return to active duty as a pilot.❞
Top spots in your hometown?
❝Chop 40 to Verdi; Flume Trail mountain bike ride over Lake Tahoe; and Cafe Edgewood in South Lake Tahoe.❞
How did your hometown shape who you are today?
❝Reno has been an important part of my journey. I trained here during the off-season with the same physical trainer, Max McManus, for 15 years.❞
Where else have you lived?
❝Born and raised in Reno.❞
Lifestyle and training
Typical training day?
❝Off season: Wake up call at 6 a.m.; stretching, visualization, prayer and meditation; breakfast with the family; two and a half hours of gym stuff; lunch and then a few hours of e-mails and business stuff; an hour and a half afternoon bike ride or trampoline work; outdoor work on the small farm; dinner, relax.
❝In season: stretching, visualization, prayer and meditation; breakfast with the family; between two and a half and six hours of halfpipe training; lunch, physio, yoga or stretching; 45 minutes to an hour of strength stuff.❞
How long do you train? How much do you sleep?
❝Six o’clock and seven o’clock.❞
What’s your favorite workout?
❝Jump and balance.❞
What’s the most exhausting workout you’ve ever done?
Seven-Day Solo Moose Hunt in Alaska’s Grizzly Country.
Any surprising things about training for the Olympics?
❝That I only eat game meat or something that we raised on the family farm. We do not buy pork, chicken or beef.❞
Unusual or experimental training?
❝I do a lot of experimental stuff, especially indoors with unorthodox workouts. We use unstable surfaces and blindfolds a lot to train the subtle nerve endings.
I would say maintaining a family farm is an experimental way to train. Haha.
Experience at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic?
❝I was at home, it canceled all my travel plans for the rest of the year and ruined all spring training camps for the season. The training throughout this year has been very difficult but not impossible. You really need to be motivated and determined to get the amount of training you want.❞
Have you ever been seriously injured?
❝ I broke my femur in 2016 in Austria.❞
A nutritional plan? (e.g. calories, meal)
❝I only eat whole foods and wild game meat. No processed foods.
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Wise OTG House Eggs, banana, elk sausage patty; lunch: elk steak salad with rice; and dinner: homemade venison stew with broccoli, carrots, quinoa.
❝Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream.❞
SEE MORE: Mammoth GP: Wise takes clutch podium, Porteous wins
Reflection & Olympics
First memory of playing sports?
I saw my first halfpipe when I was 11. I tried to fly higher than the older kids and I crashed and got a black eye. Welcome to halfpipe skiing.
Oldest memory of watching the Olympic or Paralympic Games?
❝Loved watching Jonny Mosley competing in his second Olympics when he made the bun. I was already competing in freestyle by then, so that was a big part of my excitement for the Olympics.❞
READ MORE: Nagano 1998: American Jonny Moseley wins men’s moguls gold
Specific decisive moment?
❝I won the US National Championships when I was 15 in 2005, but my sport didn’t find out that we were going to be added to the Olympics until 2012. It was a dream come true. I had been attending FIS events for years with the hope that we would bring the sport in.❞
What would you change in your sport?
❝I wish our sport was as cool and exciting as it is without being as dangerous as it is but maybe that wouldn’t work.❞
Who is your coach?
❝mike riddle. Mike is the silver medalist behind me in Sochi 2014. He’s been a friend for over 15 years and it’s great to have him here to train.❞
Who do you socialize with the most in your sport?
❝Alex Ferreira and Birk Irving.❞
The most interesting teammate?
❝Birk [Irving], because he doesn’t even know why he’s good, but he is.❞
❝Ferreira, Noah Bowman, Simon of Artois, Nico Porteous and Aaron Bluck. It’s mostly friendly. I wish them the absolute second best.❞
Have you ever worked with a sports psychologist?
❝Yes and I run a mental toughness training program for young athletes called Mental Giants. Mental toughness is one of the most valuable tools an athlete can have and I’ve been very lucky to build a lot of it over a long and difficult career. I look forward to helping those who follow me.❞
Big hurdle you overcame?
❝Breaking my femur in ’16. It took 18 months to get my strength back and in some ways my body still doesn’t move like it used to, I had to learn how to work around that.❞
Your biggest fear in competition?
Olympic or Paralympic model?
READ MORE: Salt Lake 2002: Kelly Clark wins snowboarding halfpipe gold
Summer Olympic buddy?
❝I would love to hang out with the hockey team or take a ride on the bobsled track with the team.❞
Your biggest influence in/out of sport?
❝My former trainer, Clay Beck. He was an amazing life mentor as well as a coach. He died in a minor plane crash in 2008.❞
Any advice you would give to a young athlete?
Just keep improving a little at a time. Talent will only get you so far, but there’s no limit to how far hard work can get you.
Best part of life in the Olympic Village?
❝Meet sports enthusiasts from all over the world.❞
Where do you keep your gold medals from Sochi and PyeongChang?
❝In my sock drawer most of the time. I take them to many places and share them with people. I often let people who ask nicely hold them.❞
Do you practice other sports? How do they help you?
❝Archery helps me stay calm but focused. It’s a form of meditation for me.❞
Which summer Olympic event would you like to try?
I have a 10 year goal to compete in the Summer Games in archery.
Have you ever been told you won’t succeed?
❝[By] many people, many times in different ways. At first I was too small, and now they think I’m too big. I just decided that their opinion didn’t really matter to me and I was just going to go as far as I could.❞
❝Prayer and visualization of my races. Then reminding me to enjoy the ride.❞
Are you superstitious?
❝Every athlete is a bit superstitious. I used to have lucky boxers but they got lost and now I just have to get lucky myself.❞
READ MORE: Sochi 2014: Wise’s ‘smart’ race wins freeski halfpipe gold
Passions & Personality
What comics/superheroes are you a fan of?
How to relax after a competition?
❝Hanging out with family.❞
Do you have any hidden talents?
❝Unicycle and banjo.❞
I have a big tree and its roots on my forearm, to remind me to stay humble.
Do you collect anything?
❝Arrowheads from countless hours spent in the woods hunting the same game that Native Americans hunted.❞
What charities or nonprofits do you support?
❝A step ahead of life.❞
What would you do if you weren’t an athlete?
❝Close or guide hunts.❞
Do you have any fears or pet peeves?
What’s on your to-do list?
Personal motto or inspirational quote?
❝’I can’t fail, because it’s not my victory.’❞
A woman who inspires you?
❝My wife Alexandra.❞
Fishing, hunting, archery, farming and mountain biking. All the things I can do with my family.
❝Tyler Childer and Andy Mineo.❞
Music of choice during training?
❝’Coming in Hot’ by Andy Mineo, “The Luckiest Man” by The wood brothers and ‘Banjo Odyssey’ from The dead south.❞
Do you sing or play an instrument?
❝Banjo and Drums.❞
❝If I’m not wearing sports clothes, I have to be naked. Haha. No, I wear just about anything I can get for free or cheap. Especially sturdy and practical clothes. I definitely don’t subscribe to the fashion over function mentality.❞
Five must-have items in your gym bag?
❝Music, water – oh wait, it’s only two…❞
If you could hear of one celebrity, who would it be?
❝Taylor Swift, but I want her to talk to my wife and tell her she’s awesome and keep up the good work.❞
Favorite meme/GIF that best describes you?
❝I will still send it.❞
Your favorite social accounts?
❝Nature Is Metal, Holein1trickshots and Dude Perfect.❞