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.”

Emily Sisson a U.S. Olympic marathon trials favorite, thanks to Ireland

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Emily Sisson didn’t think she would become a professional runner until her last year of college. Now, at 28, she goes into the U.S. Olympic marathon trials as a contender for one of three Tokyo spots, if not the overall favorite.

“I’ve only done one marathon, so I definitely don’t feel like I’m an experienced marathoner,” Sisson said by phone last week from her Arizona base. “That’s the one question mark I’ve had all build-up.”

Predicting a marathon can be a crapshoot, but a Podiumrunner.com experts panel pegged Sisson to win. She is younger than any female U.S. Olympic marathoner since Anne Marie Lauck in 1996 (though fellow contender Jordan Hasay is a month younger).

Confidence stems from last April 28. Sisson clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in U.S. women’s history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow. She finished sixth — behind five East Africans. She crossed 3:25 ahead of sometimes training partner and mentor Molly Huddle, also a headliner at trials in Atlanta on Feb. 29 (12 p.m. ET, NBC).

“We wanted to run faster,” Sisson said that day in London. “There’s a lot of room for improvement.”

Sisson later mentioned a pre-race scare on the “Keeping Track” podcast. She tripped over a carpet jogging back from a bathroom, banged both knees 15 minutes before the start and got checked out physically by a chiropractor and mentally by her husband, who has a master’s degree in mental health counseling.

Sisson then covered the final half of that marathon alone, a foreign feeling for the longtime track runner. At one point, she thought about having never before run more than 23 miles.

Her mind could have also wandered to sports memories that led her to the world’s strongest marathon: Attending a 1999 Women’s World Cup match and seeing her hero, Mia Hamm. As a soccer-playing teenager, being asked by a friend to join a track relay team. Or being told during a record-breaking high school career that she was reminiscent of 2004 Olympic marathoner Jen Rhines.

Sisson, whose dad ran and mom did gymnastics at the University of Wisconsin, transferred after one year in Madison to Providence. She had a best NCAA Championships finish of fourth going into her last year. Before that final season, Sisson was prepared to leave competitive running once her NCAA eligibility exhausted in pursuit of an MBA.

“I had been going through a bit of a funk with running,” she said. “I was getting a little tired.”

Things changed the summer before her senior year. She vacationed with then-boyfriend/now-husband Shane Quinn, a fellow Providence runner, in Quinn’s native Ireland. At one point, they altered training, ditching tempo runs for local road races. Sisson never before competed on the roads. She doesn’t remember the distances being exact. She does remember winning.

“That was a new, fun thing that kept the sport kind of fresh for me,” she said. “You finish, and you go into a local pub and have sandwiches.”

Providence coach Ray Treacy put Sisson in more road races that fall. The opportunity was right. She had no cross-country eligibility left while she readied for the winter and spring track seasons. She went on to win the 2015 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor 5000m, a springboard to the pros (while still going after the MBA).

Sisson was set back by injury in 2016 and placed 10th in the Olympic trials 10,000m. She kept training under Treacy, and perhaps just as important, with Huddle, the American record holder at 10,000m. Huddle, seven years older than Sisson, made her marathon debut after the Rio Olympics.

“Emily really looks up to her and is inspired by her,” Treacy said. “Molly has helped her out in numerous ways in training. … Making sure she’s not going overboard with the training, not running too fast. She kind of keeps her under control.”

Sisson made the last two world championships teams in the 10,000m, but Treacy thought marathon since 2015. They signed her up for the 2019 London Marathon, in part because Huddle was going to race it as her third career 26.2-miler. And in part to get Sisson ready for the Olympic trials in 10 months’ time.

The build-up was better than ideal. Sisson ran the second-fastest half marathon in U.S. history (on a record-eligible course) in January. She became the third-fastest U.S. woman all-time at 10,000m in March.

Come April, Treacy was impressed again just by watching Sisson after she crossed the London finish line in what would be the second-fastest marathon for a U.S. woman in 2019.

“It didn’t look like it took anything out of her,” Treacy said. “She recovered really fast. Within minutes, she was feeling pretty good. That was a good sign.”

Sisson returned home to Quinn and their golden retriever, Desmond, who has 1,400 Instagram followers. She skipped a fall marathon to compete in the 10,000m at track worlds in Doha, placing a respectable 10th.

The recent marathon build-up for trials went just as well, if not better, than the training for London.

“I’m definitely putting a bit of pressure on myself with this one,” Sisson said. “But at the same time, I don’t get caught up in so much what other people say. I don’t really read the articles about who’s the favorite or what chance you have of making the team.”

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Brigid Kosgei beaten as another world record smashed in Nike shoes

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Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh broke the half marathon world record by 20 seconds, beating new marathon world-record holder Brigid Kosgei in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Nike-sponsored runners lowered the men’s and women’s marathon and half marathon records since September 2018, each appearing to race in versions of the apparel giant’s scrutinized Vaporfly shoes.

Yeshaneh, a 28-year-old who finished 14th in the 2016 Olympic 5000m, clocked 1:04:31 for 13.1 miles to better Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei‘s world record from 2017.

Kosgei, a 26-year-old Kenyan, also came in under the old world record but 18 seconds behind Yeshaneh.

Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record on Oct. 13, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.

Nike Vaporfly shoes, including the prototypes worn by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge when he ran a sub-two-hour marathon, were deemed legal by World Athletics’ new shoe regulations last month, according to Nike.

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