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David Wise in Saas-Fee during media day.
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David Wise - Ready to Raise

Nov 132017

David Wise is one of the outstanding Freeski guys worldwide. The absolute highlight of his career was, without any doubt, his gold medal at the Olympic Games 2014. Though besides skiing there is a lot more to talk about the American. With being 27years old he is married and has already two kids. That´s more than remarkable for a freeskier at his age. More than unique are as well the training methods with which David is preparing for the next Olympic Games in Pyeonchang.

DAVID WISE INTERVIEW

Hi David! This will be for sure one of your most interesting seasons. How did the season start for you?

So technically it started last week [23rd Sept.] in Utah. I was out there doing some hiking and stuff. But it snowed pretty hard so I said to myself: Yeah I am getting out and go for some skiing. This was my earlies North American Season ever. I mean the glaciers do not really count. I was skiing in August but that does more feel like last season. But now I am kicking off my halfpipe season here in Saas-Fee getting some mileage under my feet. And as soon as it starts snowing back at home I will head for Colorado getting ready for another big contest year.

It is not so much time left till the Olympic Games are kicking in. When did your Olympic Games preparation start?

For me the preparation started as soon as I finished my last run in Sochi. It is a long term process for sure. With the Olympics kind of changed the game. Before the biggest event we had was the X-Games and it was almost one year at a time. But when we got the Olympic announcement as the biggest event it made my perspective more long term. I had some runs which I have been planning and working towards pretty much since the last Olympics were over. It is a long combination of a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of thoughts which hopefully come together.

Out of your point of view does Freeski Halfpipe fit to the Olympic Games, when it kicked in in 2014?

I think it fits well. We almost got Skiing Halfpipe in the Olmypics in 2010. So it was time also for the Olympics to take in a little bit of a younger audience. Nothing against the old traditional sports but the youth are not all interested in it. So for us it was cool to bring something fresh to the Olympics. I love the Olympics. I grew up watching it. I think it is so cool to represent your country on a world´s stage. But they got a little bit stagnated. So it is cool to see these younger events kickin in. There is Snowboard Big Air this time and hopefully Skiing Big Air next time. It is definitely an honour to be part of it.

"I think mental strength is kind of new to the sport of skiing. It has been taking place in traditional sports already for a long time."

So now getting a little bit more specific in terms of your preparation plan for the Olympics. How does your plan look like?

The plan is not necessarily week by week. It is more like seasons of the year. During summer time I tried really hard to get strong. And then I am spending a couple of weeks over here in the snow. And now when I am going back home I will not be skiing for one month. I will just be in the gym, riding my mountainbike and trying to really get strong. Cause once you start travelling, no matter how hard you work, you are losing some strength. Hence I just try to start the season too strong so as soon as I am losing some strength I am still strong enough. At middle of November I start skiing again. First halfpipe contest will be in at the beginning of early December. And then we have got four qualifiers for the US Olympic Team. In total it has been five as we had one last season.

Fitness training changed during the last couple of years. How does your fitness training look like?

I have got the same sparing coach since I have been 13 years old. His name is Max. We are almost at that point that we have been working together for so long we do not even have to speak to each other as our program is so dialled. My training would either look really interesting or intimidating to the normal person. Almost everything I do is on one foot or blind folded or hands behind the back. Everything is balanced orientated. I am not just going to the gym lifting tons of weighs just being a meat-head. I do a lot of jumping, twisting. Max is always trying to remove something of me so that I am off-balance or challenged in some ways. If we are having a good run in the halfpipe it may look perfect but it is just a big run of imperfections and it comes down to how fast you can react to those mistakes. Every run I do I make one small mistake here and there and how fast I can react on those mistakes makes a big difference. So my whole training is based on reaction time, balance and just train my muscles to react super quick.

Talking about the technical part: Trampoline and training your tricks might also be really important for you…

On off days when I am not at the gym I am training on the trampoline on my own, doing slacklining or some alternate training methods. My philosophy has always been leave no stone unturned. Try everything you can try to get better and who knows. Don´t just do what everybody else is doing. Try to pick the things which are different to what everybody else is doing. So I am always doing weird things: I am doing visualisation and a lot of mental training, some Yoga and Tai Chi. My training would look kind of more unique than of anybody else.

Was the mental training something you came up on your own?

I think mental strength is kind of new to the sport of skiing. It has been taking place in traditional sports already for a long time. It is definitely the most important part of what I do, to be mentally calm and collect under pressure. A lot of it I learned on my own. But we also have got a sport psychologist that works with us. So I use all those assets. Learning how to pressure myself, to just enjoy the aspect of competition, not worrying about the success.

" The Olympics gave me a lot of more long term approach. Since then, having won the first Olympic Gold Medal in my sport, my life has changed a lot."

How much did the Olympic Gold Medal change your life?

The announcement that Halfpipe Skiing got Olympic changed things massively. My focus used to be more short term. The Olympics gave me a lot of more long term approach. Since then, having won the first Olympic Gold Medal in my sport, my life has changed a lot. It is hard to even remember what has been before. But at the end of the day I am still the same guy. It is almost a bad thing what people do when they have got success. All of a sudden they think they are better than anybody else or they are a celebrity or something like this. The reality is I am still the same guy. I try to surround myself with people who knew me before and have known me for a long time. I think this is super important as my life has changed. I get a lot more attention. A lot of people care about what I am doing who did not care about before.

So last but not least talking about your expectations and goals for 2018 Olympic Games.

Expectations is something I try to be conscious all the time. If you live your life with too many expectations you find out that a lot of things are out of your control. The reality is I can go into the Olympic Games this year and do the best run I have done in my entire life and still lose. In terms of approach going into any kind of contest, but especially the Olympics, my goal is all about what do I wanna accomplish: what tricks do I wanna do, what´s my run, what do I wanna do for me. Anything beyond this is out of my control. I could do the best run I have ever done but the judges might not like it on that day. So my goal is not go out and win another gold medal, even though this would be really cool. My goal is to have a fresh run, hopefully something which has never been done before and brings something what is unique about my type of skiing to the sport and also represents the sport well. So my goal for starters is just make the team. We have a really heated competition this year to make it into one of those four spots for US Olympic Team in Halfpipe. Beyond this I just wanna do some runs in the halfpipe which I can be proud of. What ever else happens happens.

Let´s go a little bit behind the scenes: You are already a daddy and a father. How do you manage being a family man, but also a professional skier?

It is really interesting because I am definitely the only guy in the halfpipe or probably in competition freeski right now who has some kids. So it is definitely different, but for me it is better. Before I was almost too focused on skiing, too focused on being the best and I was relentless. I was waking up in the morning thinking all day long about how I can become a better skier. In some situations it was good, because I was improving. But I was so stressed. I was mentally not competing very well. I was training very well, practicing very well, but I was so pressured that I would fall in the end.

Once I had my little girl, I realized life is a lot more than freeskiing. Skiing is something fun to do. It is a great job and I am amazingly lucky to have it for a job. But most important, at the end of the day, is to take care of my family. When I realized that, it took the pressure off myself and I started enjoying skiing and that’s when I started doing very well. It is difficult to balance my family life but I would say that my family is my balance. Without them I would be a lot more less balanced. It makes my life look kind of different to the others, but at the end of the day I would not change it for anything in the world.

That sounds great. What is your favourite part of family life?

I love being able to be a kid again. Having young kids, my kids are three and six right now, so these are such funny stages where they are learning a lot about the world. So exploring a lot of stuff together. And it makes me take my whole life a lot less seriously. When you realize that it is not all about fame and success. It is more about these little ones and what we are teaching them. That´s the best part, going home to kids and playing games with them.

" I guess skiing is part of me and who I am. I will always be involved in skiing. Though there will come a time where I will say that´s enough for competition skiing. I have got so many plans what I would like to do with my life."

Are they scared sometimes when they see what you are doing or are they totally confident?

They are totally confident. I think they almost have the illusion that I am superman. They very very rarely see me hurt or fall. They think yeah daddy is going out and skis halfpipe, that´s what he does. But they do not understand how much work and risk goes into this but that´s maybe the good thing.

Same for your wife?

My wife is so used to hanging out with me that injuries do not bother her anymore. I come home from a mountain bike ride and you can see the bone in my arm and I am completely bleeding. And she is like: “oh nice, yeah, shall I clean that up for you?”. And I’m thinking can I get a least a little bit of sympathy? She does not even care, that´s so funny.

You just mentioned biking. Are you into a tonne of other sports?

I grew up playing sports. I wanted to be outside all day long. For me cross-training wise, Mountainbiking is the best. I am always trying to stay really strong and really light at the same time. And that´s a hard combination. Naturally, if I just went to gym and lifted weights, I would be strong and heavy like a football player. But that´s not what I wanna be. I want to be equally strong and light. Mountainbiking is perfect for this. I spend time on my bike and going to the gym in the evening. So I keep myself low-body-fat. Really physically fit and strong so that´s one of my favorite parts. I am also spending a lot of time shooting bows, I hunt and I fish. I am spending a lot of time outside. I play softball or baseball. I am always busy!

Will there be a point of time where you would say family is more important than sport?

Definitely. I guess skiing is part of me and who I am. I will always be involved in skiing. Though there will come a time where I will say that´s enough for competition skiing. I have got so many plans what I would like to do with my life. I just finished writing a kid’s book. We will publish it in February. It is a little bit about a fantasy story about my wife and myself. It is called the butterfly and the bear. And this bear wakes up grumpy being mad to everybody and he is too focused on himself and what he is doing and then he runs into a butterfly. And he runs into a butterfly and the butterfly shows him how much beauty is surrounding him and life is a lot more about how you react to what happens than what happens. You can have bad things happen but you can still have a good attitude about this. And this is kind of the story about me and my wife. We caught up when I was so focused on me and things that were outside of my control. And all of a sudden this beautiful woman came into my life and just gave me the perspective. Life is a lot more than just me and what I am doing with the game that I am playing on my pair of skis.

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