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.”

Chicago Marathon features Emily Sisson’s return, Conner Mantz’s debut, live on Peacock

Emily Sisson
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At Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, Emily Sisson makes her return, nearly three years after Olympic Trials disappointment. Conner Mantz makes one of the most anticipated U.S. men’s debuts in 26.2-mile racing.

It is not the norm, but an American will be one of the spotlight runners in both the men’s and women’s elite races at a major marathon. Peacock airs live coverage at 8 a.m. ET.

Sisson, 30, starts her first mass marathon since dropping out of the Olympic Trials on Feb. 29, 2020, her legs “destroyed” on the hilly Atlanta course where she started as arguably the favorite. She ran the virtual New York City Marathon later in 2020, but that was solo (and not in New York City). Her 2:38:00 isn’t recorded in her official results on her World Athletics bio.

Since, Sisson won the Olympic Trials 10,000m on the track and was the top American in Tokyo in 10th place. She moved back to the roads, winning national titles at 15km and the half marathon and breaking the American record in the latter.

Sisson vaulted into the elite group of U.S. female marathoners in 2019, when she clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in American history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow.

At the time, it was the 12th-best U.S. performance all-time. In the last two years, Keira D’Amato, 37, and Sara Hall, 39, combined to run seven faster marathons. At Chicago, a flat course that produced a world record three years ago, Sisson can answer them and perhaps get close to D’Amato’s American record 2:19:12.

“I’m hoping sub-2:20,” coach Ray Treacy said, according to LetsRun.com. “With the [super] shoes and the training behind her, I would think that’s [worth] at least three minutes.”

It is less likely that Sisson can challenge for the win on Sunday given the presence of Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, the 2019 World champion and defending champion in the Windy City. The 28-year-old mom is the fifth-fastest woman in history with a personal best of 2:17:08. And Ethiopian Ruti Aga, a podium finisher in Berlin, New York City and Tokyo with a best time of 2:18:34, though she has one marathon finish since the pandemic (a seventh place).

Like Sisson, Mantz has shown strong recent road racing form. The American men’s debut marathon record of 2:07:56 (Leonard Korir) is in play. If he can break that, Mantz will be among the five fastest U.S. marathoners in history.

Rarely has a U.S. male distance runner as accomplished as Mantz moved up to the marathon at such a young age (25). At BYU, he won NCAA cross-country titles in 2020 and 2021 and placed fifth in the Olympic Trials 10,000m, then turned pro and won the U.S. Half Marathon Championships last December.

“If everything goes as planned, I think sub-2:08 is realistic,” Mantz said in a Citius Mag video interview last month. “If everything goes perfect on the day, I think a sub-2:07, that’s a big stretch goal.”

The men’s field doesn’t have the singular star power of Chepngetich, but a large group of East Africans with personal bests around 2:05. The most notable: defending champion Seifu Tura of Ethiopia and 2021 Boston Marathon winner Benson Kipruto of Kenya.

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

Alpine Skiing Combined
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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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