David Wise seeks to three-peat in Olympic freeski halfpipe, an event that's never had another gold medalist. The Nevadan is a father of two and a passionate hunter, archer and outdoorsman. He broke his femur a year after PyeongChang but returned to competition just seven months later.
As part of our preparation for the 2022 Games, NBC Olympics sent questionnaires to multiple athletes to learn more about their lives on and off the snow or ice. Here’s what we found out about Wise:
David Wise, Freeskiing
Family & Upbringing
Tell us about your family.
❝I have a wife, Alexandra, and two kids: Nayeli, age 9, and Malachi, age 6.❞
How influential were your parents in your athletic aspirations?
❝Very influential. I don't think that they like the fact that I chose halfpipe skiing, but they were always supportive. We spent all of our extra cash and vacation time on traveling for skiing for both 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 the balance. I am naturally competitive and dedicated and I sometimes over-pressure myself to perform.
My family reminds me that there is a lot more to life than what I do on a pair of skis. I know that no amount of accolades or gold medals will add to my happiness or joy unless I can be happy and joyful with what I have already.
Do you have another job?
❝Professional hunter/guide/outdoorsman. Tiny farmer with my family at Wise OTG.❞
Do you have any pets?
Yes, 20 chickens and one cat.
How has being in the military impacted your journey?
❝My sister is a major in the United States Air Force. She is the only female above-knee amputee that has returned to full active duty as a pilot.❞
Top spots in your hometown?
❝Chop 40 in Verdi; Flume Trail mountain bike ride above Lake Tahoe; and Cafe Edgewood in South Lake Tahoe.❞
How has your hometown shaped who you are today?
❝Reno has been a massive part of my journey. I've been training here in the offseason with the same strength coach, Max McManus, for 15 years.❞
Where else have you lived?
❝Born and raised in Reno.❞
Lifestyle & Training
Typical training day?
❝Offseason: 6 a.m. wake-up; stretch, visualize, prayer and meditation; breakfast with the fam; two and a half hours of gym stuff; lunch and then a couple hours of emails and business stuff; one and a half hour afternoon bike ride or trampoline work; outdoor work on the tiny farm; dinner, chill.
❝In season: Stretch, visualize, prayer and meditation; breakfast with the fam; 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 much time to you train? How much do you sleep?
❝Six hours and seven hours.❞
What's your favorite workout?
❝Jumping and balance.❞
What's the most grueling workout you've ever done?
Seven-day solo moose hunt in grizzly bear country in Alaska.
Surprising things regarding training for Olympics?
❝That I eat exclusively game meat or something that we've raised on the family farm. We don't buy pork, chicken or beef.❞
Any out-of-the-ordinary or experimental training?
❝I do a lot of experimental stuff, especially in the gym with unorthodox workouts. We use unstable surfaces and blindfolds a lot to train the subtle nerve endings.
I would say that maintaining a family farm is an experimental way to train. Haha.
Experience during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic?
❝I was home, it canceled all of my travel plans for the rest of the year and ruined all of the spring training camps for the season. Training throughout this year has been extra challenging but not impossible. You really have to be motivated and dedicated to getting the amount of training that you want.❞
Have you ever been seriously injured?
❝Shattered my femur in 2016 in Austria.❞
Any nutrition plan? (e.g., calories, meals)
❝I eat exclusively whole foods and wild game meat. No processed foods.
Breakfast: oatmeal with homegrown Wise OTG eggs, a 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.❞
Reflection & Olympics
Earliest memory of participating in sport?
I saw my first halfpipe when I was 11. I tried to air higher than the older kids and crashed and gave myself a black eye. Welcome to halfpipe skiing.
Earliest memory of watching Olympics or Paralympics?
❝I loved watching Jonny Moseley compete in his second Olympics when he did the dinner roll. I was already competing in freestyle at that point so that was a huge part of me getting excited about the Olympics.❞
Specific breakthrough moment?
❝I won U.S. nationals 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. That was a dream come true. I had been participating in FIS events for years with the hope that we would get the sport in.❞
What would you change about your sport?
❝I would love for our sport to be 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 from Sochi in 2014. He's been a friend for more than 15 years and it is awesome to have him out here coaching me.❞
Who do you socialize with most within your sport?
❝Alex Ferreira and Birk Irving.❞
Most interesting teammate?
❝Birk [Irving], because he doesn't even know why he is good, but he just is.❞
❝Ferreira, Noah Bowman, Simon d'Artois, Nico Porteous and Aaron Blunck. 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 strength training program for younger athletes called Mental Giants. Mental strength is one of the most valuable tools an athlete can have and I've been very fortunate to build a lot over a long and adverse career. I look forward to helping those that follow me.❞
Big obstacle that you've overcome?
❝Shattering my femur in '16. Recovering my strength took 18 months and in some ways my body still doesn't move the way that it used to, I've had to learn to work around it.❞
Biggest fear when competing?
Olympic or Paralympic role model?
Summer Olympic buddy?
❝I would love to hang out with the hockey team, or take a ride down the bobsled track with the crew.❞
Greatest influence within/outside sport?
❝My old coach, Clay Beck. He was an amazing life mentor as well as coach. He died in a small plane crash in 2008.❞
Advice you'd give a young athlete?
Just keep improving a little bit at a time. Talent will only get you so far, but there is no limit to where hard work can get you.
Best part of living in the Olympic Village?
❝Meeting people passionate about sports from all over the world.❞
Where do you keep your Sochi and PyeongChang golds?
❝In my sock drawer most of the time. I take them many places and share them with people. I often let people who ask nicely hold them.❞
Play any 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 of competing in the Summer Games in archery.
Ever been told you wouldn't succeed?
❝[By] many people, many times in many different ways. 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 that I was just going to take it as far as I could.❞
Any pre-competition rituals?
❝Prayer and visualizing my runs. Then reminding myself to enjoy the ride.❞
Are you superstitious?
❝Every athlete is a little superstitious. I used to have luck boxers but they got lost and now I just have to be lucky myself.❞
Passions & Personality
Which comic books/superheroes are you a fan of?
How do you unwind after a competition?
❝Hanging with the family.❞
Do you have any hidden talents?
❝Unicycle and banjo.❞
I have a large tree and its roots on my forearm, to remind me to stay humble.
Do you collect anything?
❝Arrowheads from the countless hours spent out in the woods chasing the same game animals that the Native Americans were chasing.❞
Which charities or nonprofits do you support?
❝One Leg Up On Life.❞
What would you do if you weren't an athlete?
❝Farming or guiding hunts.❞
Do you have any fears or pet peeves?
What is on your bucket list?
Personal motto or inspirational quote?
❝'I can not fail, because it's not my victory.'❞
A woman that inspires you?
❝My wife Alexandra.❞
Fishing, hunting, archery, farming and mountain biking. All things that I can do with my family.
❝Tyler Childers and Andy Mineo.❞
Music of choice while training?
❝'Coming in Hot' by Andy Mineo, 'Luckiest Man' by The Wood Brothers and 'Banjo Odyssey' by The Dead South.❞
Do you sing or play an instrument?
❝Banjo and drums.❞
❝If I'm not in athletic clothes, then I must be naked. Haha. No, I pretty much wear whatever I can get for free or cheap. Mostly rugged 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, that's only two…❞
If you could hear from one celeb, who would it be?
❝Taylor Swift, but I want her to talk to my wife and tell her she's awesome and to keep up the good work.❞
Favorite meme/GIF that best describes you?
❝I'm Still Gonna Send It.❞
Favorite social accounts?
❝Nature Is Metal, Holein1trickshots and Dude Perfect.❞