David Wise powers to first ski halfpipe gold in Olympic history
KRASNAYA POLYANA - David Wise of the United States took gold in the newly added ski halfpipe event and made history by becoming its first Olympic Champion.
His first run, which included both right and left-side double corked 1260 spins, earned him a score of 92.00 that proved to be enough to hold off all challengers and give him the triple crown of World Championship, X Games, and Olympic Winter Games titles.
Mike Riddle of Canada threw down a near-flawless second run with a slightly lower degree of difficulty to earn a score of 90.60 and the silver, while Frenchman Kevin Rolland executed a solid first run to score of 88.60 and the bronze.
The streak of warm weather and clear skies that had dominated Sochi 2014, ended on Tuesday as snow, sleet, and rain drenched the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park over the course of the competition.
On-and-off heavy snow through the qualification heats created inconsistant conditions that had much of the field struggling with one or both of their runs, including medal favourite Torin Yater-Wallace of the United States, who fell twice in his qualifying attempts.
Despite all this, Wise appeared unfazed, singing to himself at the start gate before dropping into a mock-downhill tuck on his way into the pipe. With solid amplitude, held grabs and clean landings on every one of his tricks, his run was easily the best of the day through finals run one.
His only real threat of the competition came when second-placed Riddle powered through a second run that also included both left and right-side double 1260s, performed in an impressive sequence one after the other.
The back-to-back 'dub 12s' were a combination Riddle had not performed before Sochi 2014 and, taking the risk with a new run in unforgiving conditions, was likely the nudge he needed to move into silver medal position ahead of Rolland.
"I have never done that combination before, back-to-back dub (double corked) 1260s," Riddle said of his run, "But I decided it was a good time to do it for the first time."
Rolland's run included only one of the double-corked 1260s, though his consistent amplitude on the skier's-right wall was some of the highest seen all day.
Top qualifier Justin Dorey of Canada had a run going that looked set to challenge Wise in his first of the finals but, a mistake on a massive double corked spin, sent him crashing into the flat bottom and hard on to his shoulder.
In his second run, the last of the night for any competitor, Dorey seemed to be feeling the effects of the crash, lowering the degree of difficulty of his tricks before ultimately falling once again, handing the gold medal to Wise.