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Lyman Currier of the USA competes in qualifying for the men's ski halfpipe at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

No USA letdown for David Wise in skiing halfpipe

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia--David Wise of Reno, Nev., is one favorite who lived up to his promise at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Wise played it smart Tuesday night as soft snow pelted the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. He twisted, twirled and floated away with the gold medal in the debut of halfpipe skiing.

Wise, 23 and the father of a 2-year-old daughter, scored a winning ride of 92.00 points on his first run in the final. Mike Riddle of Canada won the silver while Kevin Rolland of France got the bronze in less-than-ideal conditions as winter finally arrived at the Winter Olympics.

"It's always rough when the conditions aren't perfect and you don't get to do the runs you were hoping to do," Wise said. "I've had a Sochi run on my mind for a long time that I really wanted to throw down tonight. But you guys will just have to wait 'till next year to see that one."

Wise, who grew up skiing in Lake Tahoe, almost walked away from professional skiing while struggling on the big stage until three years ago. Sister Christy Wise said Tuesday night that her brother changed once getting married and having a baby daughter, who stayed home in Reno.

"When Nayeli came along he stopped finding so much of his worth in skiing and he relaxed a bit and realized who he was and started doing well," said Christy Wise, a captain in the Air Force who flies C130 planes.

Since then, Wise has won three consecutive Winter X Games titles and now the Olympic gold medal on a sloppy night with heavy wet snow that forced the skiers to change tactics in the halfpipe.

"The riders all came out and stepped up and put on a good show in spite of the rough conditions and so I'm happy landing my run and it's an amazing honor," Wise said.

Colorado teenager Aaron Blunck finished seventh after barely advancing to the 12-rider final. But two other Coloradans ended their Olympics early.

Aspen native Torin Yater-Wallace, a discretionary pick after missing all Olympic qualifying events with broken ribs, backed into the wall on his second run and failed to advance.

Yater-Wallace, 18, is considered one of the world's best ski halfpipe riders. He was expected to challenge for the gold medal in the new Olympic sport before breaking his ribs while training last month.

Lyman Currier of Boulder, whose father was an Olympic alpine skier in 1972, finished 28th out of 29 competitors in qualifying. Currier took a hard fall on his second run, but skied out of the pipe.

(c)2014 San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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