In the final freeski event at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, David Wise ended the U.S.A.'s gold medal drought, winning the men's Olympic halfpipe skiing final in dramatic fashion ahead of teammate Alex Ferreira. Surprising everyone in Phoenix Park, 16-year-old Nico Porteous from New Zealand captured the bronze.
Fellow American and 2014 women's halfpipe gold medalist Maddie Bowman crashed on all three runs of her 2018 Olympic final, and it seemed like 2014 men's gold medalist Wise was on the same track after he was unable to put down either of his first two runs. But, in typical Wise fashion, the halfpipe master put it all together when it mattered most, connecting a switch right-side double 1080 japan, right side 1080 blunt, switch left double 1080 japan, and a left double 1260 mute to repeat as Olympic champion.
Despite his heroics, Wise was almost edged out by countryman Alex Ferreira, who, after jumping into first after his second run, boosted even higher out of the 22-foot walls on his last go, including an absolutely massive right-side double 1260 mute into a left-side double 1080 safety that took him deep down the pipe.
Nico Porteous, a New Zealand high schooler (and the final qualifier for Thursday's halfpipe final) nearly stole the show, stomping a second run that briefly had the youngest competitor in the field standing alone in first. In a move that could have proved costly, Porteous elected to skip his third run, skiing down the pipe instead of risking a heavy fall. His own teammate, Beau-James Wells almost made him pay on his own last run, but the youngest Wells brother was unable to knock Porteous off the podium. With Zoi Sadowski-Snott winning a bronze in women's big air snowboarding just hours before, the duo became the first New Zealanders to take home Olympic hardware in 26 years.
For the rest of the field, the South Korean pipe was a battle for survival. Byron Wells spent the finals in the hospital after crashing in practice, while France's Kevin Rolland and American Torin Yater-Wallace each slammed on the halfpipe coping. Thankfully, both Rolland and Yater-Wallace skied away from their crashes.
As the snow dust settles on the pipe in PyeongChang, Wise was the only freeski athlete to hold onto his Olympic title, as he remains the sport's lone Olympic gold medalist.
More 2018 Winter Olympics Coverage from ASN