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Originally published Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 8:49 PM

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American man from Reno takes the gold in halfpipe skiing

Soaring through sloppy snow and sleet, David Wise won the first gold medal in the young sport of halfpipe skiing Tuesday.


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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — David Wise considers himself a dad and husband first, a freestyle skier second.

That might be why he also became an Olympic champion.

Soaring through sloppy snow and sleet, Wise won the first gold medal in the young sport of halfpipe skiing Tuesday, outclassing a field in Sochi that had trouble with the slow, waterlogged conditions.

Sightlines were less than perfect on the first true soaker of a night at the action-sports venue, but not so bad that Wise couldn’t look down from the top and see his wife, Lexi, and the rest of his family members cheering at the base of the halfpipe.

Many of them were holding big pop-out pictures of his 2-year-old daughter, Nayeli, stapled to wooden sticks.

“To see that face looking back up at me was cool,” Wise said.

After placing a heart-shaped rock Lexi gave him into one pocket, the 23-year-old from Reno, Nev., dropped into the halfpipe and scored a 92 — a mark that held up to beat Canada’s Mike Riddle by 1.4 points.

Kevin Rolland of France took bronze.

That podium pretty much went to form, a fact not lost on Wise or any of the others, who have watched expected results in other action sports at these Games get shuffled.

“I’ve been watching a lot of favorites lose this Olympics ... seeing how much pressure it can be and how you have to perform, regardless of the conditions or how you’re feeling that day,” Wise said. “It’s kind of sobering, to say the least.”

J.R. Celski is the last man standing. The short-tracker from Federal Way advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals of the 500 by finishing second in his heat. Celski, 23, is the only U.S. male who can still win an individual speedskating medal — short or long track — after Emery Lehman and Patrick Meek finished out of the medals in the long-track 10,000.

“I kind of just held my ground and made it through,” Celski said.

Eddy Alvarez, who crashed in his heat at the Iceberg Skating Palace with about 50 meters to go, and Jordan Malone, who finished fourth in his heat, did not make it out of the preliminary rounds.

Celski said there’s no added pressure.

“I’m just going to go out there and skate,” said Celski, who took two bronze medals in 2010.

In women’s short-track 1,000, Americans Emily Scott and Jessica Smith advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals.

The U.S. did not qualify a team to compete in the women’s 3,000 relay. South Korea took the gold, silver went to Canada, while Italy took bronze.

Skier Tina Maze of Slovenia captured her second gold medal of these Games by winning the giant slalom.

Maze was in full command, leading all the way and finishing 0.07 seconds ahead of Anna Fenninger of Austria. Defending champion Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany was the bronze medalist.

Teen sensation Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. was fifth in her Olympic debut. American Julia Mancuso skied off the course during her first run.

other events

Jorrit Bergsma won the men’s 10,000 meters to lead another sweep of the medals for the Netherlands. Bergsma set an Olympic record with his time of 12 minutes, 44.45 seconds. He was followed by Sven Kramer and Bob de Jong, sending the Dutch to their fourth podium sweep at this venue and giving them 19 medals.

Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway edged Martin Fourcade of France to win gold in the men’s 15-kilometer mass start biathlon. They both finished in 42 minutes, 29.1 seconds, with Svendsen’s ski crossing the line a fraction ahead. Ondrej Moravec of the Czech Republic won bronze for his second medal of the games.

Pierre Vaultier of France held off Nikolay Olyunin of Russia to win the gold medal in men’s snowboardcross on a chopped-up course slowed by drizzle. Alex Deibold of the U.S. took the bronze.

• Norway delivered a one-two finish in the Nordic combined large hill. Joergen Graabak broke away from a five-man group with about 100 meters left in the cross-country race, finishing six-tenths of a second ahead of Magnus Moan. Fabian Riessle of Germany won the bronze.



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