Today we come to you with a new series, "Wise Words," coming from Northstar California's own Olympic gold medalist, David Wise. He'll be sharing updates over the coming months from his road to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
When people ask me what I do for a living I usually chuckle. I typically respond with, “Do you want the long answer or the short answer?" In short, I travel all over the world, flipping and spinning on a 22-foot-tall ice wall on a pair of skis in front of crowds, cameras, and judges. I am a professional skier, and more specifically, a halfpipe competitor.
The long answer is more complicated, but amounts to the same thing, so I won't bore you with all the details. Basically I spend most of my waking hours doing various things that you may think are silly, yet I do to make myself stronger, faster, mentally sharper, and more spatially aware. My competition runs last somewhere between 30 and 40 seconds, giving me a couple 40-second shots at glory, followed by awaiting the results and hoping to snatch up some new bling to weigh my shelves down at home. Then I pack up and head to the next location.
That's the gist of what I do for a living, but the beauty is in the details. I get to travel to the most amazing places and meet the most amazing people, while constantly learning about the world and myself along the journey. At the end of the day, I consider myself the most fortunate man alive.
I grew up skiing in Lake Tahoe, chasing my older sisters around and trying to follow in my ski racing father's footsteps. But something always enthralled me about jumping. I loved spending time off the ground, feeling the joy of overcoming fear. When I was 11, I joined a freestyle team, competing in moguls, aerials, halfpipe, and slopestyle. However, it was always the halfpipe that held my attention. I had Olympic dreams as a kid, when I loved watching both the Summer and Winter Olympics. But when I committed to primarily competing in halfpipe, I had to in part give up that dream, since the ski halfpipe was not an Olympic sport at the time. Yet it was a sacrifice I was willing to make; I loved the halfpipe that much.
Fast-forward several years later and I got to see those dreams come full circle. In 2012, I was notified that the halfpipe was finally going to be an Olympic sport in 2014. And just two years later, in 2014, I had the privilege of making the first U.S. Halfpipe Ski Team. Just making the team and having the opportunity to represent my country and my roots was a dream come true. Yet that dream got even better when I won the first Gold Medal for the sport! What an amazing experience and opportunity.
And while my life has certainly changed drastically since then, one goal has remained the same: Return to the Winter Olympics and defend my title in 2018.
But while there really isn't a typical year for people in my profession, this year is especially atypical. I am currently attending the X Games in Aspen (tune in this weekend!), before I head straight to California's Mammoth Mountain for the first Olympic qualifier. In 2014, we had all five qualifiers the year of the Olympics. And it was stressful to say the least. This time around, however, the powers that be decided to alleviate that stress by having one of the five qualifiers in the 2017 season.
Usually I'd be focusing all of my attention on the X Games, but since Mammoth is an Olympic qualifier, I am focusing equally on that event. In preparation for these events I have been in Colorado for the past couple weeks training (unfortunately missing out on all the epic snow in Lake Tahoe!). Following Mammoth, I will be spending almost a month overseas starting with an Olympic test event World Cup in Pyeongchang. And then it's Austria, France, and Spain. It's going to be a wild time.
With so much traveling this season, I made sure to spend as much time as possible with my family during the holidays a few weeks ago. On top of having the best job in the world, I also have the best family in the world! My wife Alexandra is the cornerstone and my two little children help keep things interesting when life becomes dull.
Nayeli is five, while her little brother Malachi is two, and they're both learning to ski just like dad. Taking them up to Northstar and getting them their first turns of the year was definitely the highlight of the holidays for me. All Nayeli could talk about was how she “skied down the whole run all by herself!” Malachi definitely takes after his daddy, both aggressive and fearless. Point him down the hill and he will go until he hits something. So watch out for him on the slopes folks!
While I'm signing off for the time being, stay tuned this winter, as I will be checking in from the road (and mountain) on my many adventures. I invite you to join me in the coming months as I share the joys and sorrows and peaks and valleys of my journey to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.