A husband, a dad, and now, an Olympic gold medalist

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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – David Wise says he holds it down for the “rad dad” club as an action sports athlete with a wife and daughter.

He joined another movement by winning the first Olympic halfpipe skiing title Tuesday, one that’s keeping the U.S. among the most successful nations into the second week of the Winter Games.

Wise’s 92-point run amid fat, falling snowflakes marked the U.S. Olympic Team’s 20th medal, matching it with the Netherlands’ speed skating teams for the overall lead.

Half of those medals have come from athletes in Winter X Games disciplines, including both American podium finishers Tuesday. Earlier, Alex Deibold won a surprise snowboard cross bronze, extending the U.S.’ hopes of winning a medal on every night of these Games.

Wise’s gold was special in many ways, but he put in this perspective: Wise came to Sochi as the three-time reigning Winter X Games champion and the reigning world champion. Other Olympians under similar circumstances have not fared so well – Shaun White, Hannah Kearney and Kelly Clark at this same Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, to name a few.

“I’ve been watching a lot of favorites lose this Olympics,” Wise, 23, said with the Stars and Stripes draped over his back, “so being part of the whole Olympic experience and seeing how much pressure it can be and how you have to perform regardless of the conditions or how you’re feeling that day, etcetera. It’s kind of sobering, to say the least.

Wise’s winning set of tricks – which he called a watered-down “C” run due to falling snow for the first time at these Winter Olympics – included two double corks. It was still enough to beat silver medalist Mike Riddle of Canada and bronze medalist Kevin Rolland of France.

Wise skied on the same pipe that foiled White and Clark. He prevailed with inspiration on a stick, in his pocket and back home, in The Biggest Little City in the World.

A Stick: Several friends and family members cheered Wise on from the finish area, but the group lacked Wise’s 2-year-old daughter Nayli. Wise’s wife, Lexi, and daughter were able to travel with Wise all season, but Lexi stayed home in Reno, Nev., with grandma, nana and papi this time.

The next best thing, it was decided, was to put her head on a stick, as seen below:

Wise noticed.

“To see that looking up at me from the bottom of the halfpipe was really cool,” he said.

The words “David” and “Wise” usually adorn the cheeks of Lexi, too, but she made a change for the Olympics. She opted for “Go” and “World.” It’s not an advertisement for Visa.

“The Olympics, to me, it just represents hope, and it represents peace,” Lexi said. “It gives us something to believe in as a world, as a globe.”

His Pocket: Wise has a tradition of collecting heart-shaped rocks when he travels as gifts for Lexi.

She returned the favor in Sochi, passing him a rock from Reno through a friend before the competition Tuesday.

He placed it in the pocket of his ski pants, zipped them up and went down the pipe four times in competition with “a little piece of home” along for the ride.

Back Home: John McKendricks, pastor at Valley View Christian Fellowship in South Reno, watched one of his congregation’s youth directors win gold on his church office computer.

If he tuned in early enough, he could have heard the stadium announcer introduce Wise as a “father, husband and philanthropist.”

McKendricks knows better than anyone how selfless Wise is, having witnessed both Wises help junior high and high school kids overcome drug abuse and depression the last five years. David and Lexi first met at a church camp.

Wise has aspirations to be a pastor, and he and his wife currently lead a group of about 30 teenagers. It’s called the Tribe.

Wise spent two or three nights a week with them, before the busy Olympics run-up, and took them to conferences, on hiking trips and to amusement parks.

“David is one of those rare people with intellect, ability and personality,” said McKendricks, who gave the avid reader Wise the book, “God As Love,” about Russian theology, before his trip to Sochi. “David likes to be an example. He’s a nurturer.”

He said Wise has remained humble despite growing into an action sports star.

source:  For all the hard work Wise puts in training, “he’s just as likely to enter a Big Gulp Slurpee drinking contest with a 13-year-old,” McKendricks said.

Wise plans to take his prize money from the U.S. Olympic Committee, typically $25,000 for a gold medal, and put 10 percent of it into Clean Water Project, his non-profit fund to provide clean drinking water to Malawi.

“Life is not just about your skiing,” Wise said.

But it primarily was for a few sleet-splashed hours Tuesday. Wise prevailed under the pressure of a heavy favorite. Now, he can bring home that rock and a gold medal for his daughter and his youth group to see.

“I came at it with the approach like, hey, I’m as accomplished as I need to be already,” Wise said. “So I just get to go out and put on a show.”

Diana Taurasi says 2024 Paris Olympics ‘on my radar’

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi said immediately after winning her fifth Olympic gold medal in Tokyo that she might try for a record sixth in Paris.

It’s still on her mind 17 months out of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“It’s something that it’s on my radar,” Taurasi told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday after the first day of a USA Basketball training camp in Minnesota, her first national team activity since Tokyo. “I’m still competitive, still driven, still want to play, I still love being a part of USA Basketball.”

Taurasi will be 42 at the time of the Paris Games — older than any previous Olympic basketball player — but said if she’s healthy enough she’d like to give it a go.

“If the opportunity comes to play and be a part of it, it’s something I’ve always taken a lot of pride in,” said Taurasi, who shares the record of five Olympic basketball gold medals with the retired Sue Bird. “When you get to my age at this point in my career, you just try to win every day. Right now this is a good opportunity to be part of this team moving forward we’ll see what happens.”

She said she would have played at the FIBA World Cup last year in Australia, but had a quad strain that kept her out of the end of the WNBA season.

“I got hurt a little bit before. I had a good conversation with Coach (Cheryl) Reeve and (USA Basketball CEO Jim) Tooley. I felt like I hadn’t played enough basketball to be out there and help,” Taurasi said. “That’s the biggest thing with USA Basketball is being able to help the team win.”

Reeve said Monday that when she succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach a few months after Tokyo, she wasn’t sure whether Taurasi would play for the national team again. That was before her conversation with Taurasi.

“I look forward to having a chance to have her be around and be, as I told her, a great voice,” Reeve said. “Obviously, the competitive fire that she competes with is something that we all do well with.”

In Tokyo, Taurasi started all six games and averaged 18.8 minutes per game, sixth-most on the team (fewer than backup guard Chelsea Gray). Her 5.8 points per game were her fewest in her Olympic career, though she was dealing with a hip injury.

Taurasi is an unrestricted free agent although she is expected to return back to Phoenix where she’s spent her entire career since getting drafted No. 1 overall in 2003.

“Phoenix still has things they need to work out,” the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer said.

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Alexis Pinturault wins world championships combined; American in fourth

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France’s Alexis Pinturault won the world Alpine skiing championships combined at his home venue after defending world champion Marco Schwarz blew a lead in the final seconds of his slalom run.

Pinturault, a 31-year-old who hadn’t won a race in nearly two years (the longest drought of his distinguished career), prevailed by one tenth of a second over the Austrian Schwarz in Courchevel, France.

“I hope to enjoy it because it was pretty difficult some months ago,” Pinturault said.

Austrian Raphael Haaser took bronze in an event that combined times from a morning super-G run and an afternoon slalom run, one day after his older sister took bronze in the women’s combined.

River Radamus was fourth, a quarter of a second from becoming the first U.S. man to win an Alpine worlds medal since 2015. Radamus’ best event is the giant slalom, which is scheduled for Feb. 17 at worlds.

“It’s nice, but honestly, you don’t come to world championships hoping to get fourth,” Radamus said.

Five skiers finished within 2.98 seconds of the winner in an event that has been dropped from the annual World Cup schedule and is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Pinturault had the fastest super-G run by six hundredths over Schwarz. Schwarz, a slightly better slalom skier than Pinturault, erased that deficit early in the slalom and had a three tenths lead at the last intermediate split.

He gave it all away about six gates from the finish, slamming on the brakes. Moments later, he crossed the finish line one tenth behind Pinturault, who reacted by pumping his fists in the air.

The Frenchman earned his first race victory since the March 2021 World Cup Finals giant slalom, where he clinched his first World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. Last season, Pinturault went winless on the World Cup for the first time since he was a teenage rookie in 2011, plus went medal-less at the Olympics.

Pinturault, who grew up in Courchevel and now co-owns the family’s five-star Hotel Annapurna there, had retirement cross his mind in the offseason, according to Eurosport. He skipped a pre-worlds Sunday press conference due to illness.

Nonetheless, Pinturault was on the front page of French newspapers this week, including L’Equipe on Tuesday. In a sports cover story for Le Figaro, Pinturault said that, given the circumstances, it would be almost a “nice surprise” to go for a medal at these worlds.

Olympic champion Johannes Strolz of Austria skied out of the slalom after tying for 29th in the super-G.

Olympic silver and bronze medalists Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway and Jack Crawford of Canada were among the speed specialists who did not start the slalom. They essentially used the event as a training run for Thursday’s super-G.

Worlds continue Wednesday with the women’s super-G, where Mikaela Shiffrin is a medal contender but not the favorite. She can tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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