Wise pipped David Ferreira to the top prize as 16 year old New Zealander Nico Porteous took the bronze
Team USA weren’t able to take the clean sweep that many expected them to do in the men’s ski halfpipe, but they did take the gold and silver as David Wise made Olympic history by becoming the first man to land all four double corks during his final run in the Winter Olympics.
A score of 97.2 was enough to see him beat Alex Ferreira – who looked like he was going for gold the whole way after Wise crashed his first two runs – but even after upping his score on all three runs, Alex’s eventual 96.40 wasn’t enough to win.
16 year old New Zealander Nico Porteous made history by disrupting the American domination to take bronze with a score of 94.80, and the hugs between Porteous, Ferreira and Wise told you everything you needed to know about why we love the sport at the end of the contest.
Alex Ferreira, the second last man down the mountain, was the first and only man to put down a score of over 90 in the first round of runs.
He got a 92.60 and after that it was just a question of whether that score would hold. Aaron Blunck followed him down to finish off round one with an albeit possibly underscored effort of 81.40 to show just how high the judges were rating Alex’s run (and Aaron wasn’t able to reach the medal spots despite landing a final run that brought him up to 84.80).
Alex Ferreira’s run was eventually toppled by an insane second run of 94.80 from young New Zealand star Nico Porteous, but Ferreira came back to stomp an insane run including a double 10 to flair that scored a 96.0 and at that point, it was clear that he would be hard to catch. It was big, it was techincal and clearly it was just what the judges were looking for.
But his compatriot David Wise saw the challenge, took it up, and somehow beat Ferreira out.
Defending Winter Olympic Sochi halfpipe champion David Wise was the hot favourite in the run up to the Olympics. He’s been on fine form in the FIS halfpipe world cup in the 17-18 season, claiming a couple of gold medals already, and he won the 2018 X Games halfpipe as well, but the nerves seemed to be getting the best of him in Pyeongchang.
After Wise struggled in qualifying for the mens’ ski halfpipe final, crashing out in his first run and then struggling to a 79.6 to qualify in ninth with his second, some were doubting his chances of getting on the podium, and a rough start to finals saw him struggle to exercise his demons as he crashed out in both his first and second run.
If you’ve ever wondered if the pressure gets to a reigning Olympic champion, the answer is clearly yes. In his third and final run he proved they weren’t getting the better of him though. He became the first man to do all four double corks in an Olympic Games and was rewarded with a 97.20 and first place as a result.
If you think of skiing – you can ride left, ride right, right going forward and ride going backwards – and David Wise stuck a double cork in every single one of those directions.
Alex Ferreira built on his own run again to get over the 96 mark but it wasn’t good enough to beat Wise.
The Americans dominated in qualification regardless though, with reigning world champion Aaron Blunck qualifying in first, Alex Ferreira in second and Torin Yater-Wallace in third, but the rest of the world weren’t going to let them away with it easy.
Torin Yater-Wallace struggled in run one and smashed an enormous double alleyoop on run two but crashed out again after running after running out of pipe down bottom.
In run three he nailed a right side double 1260 but then caught the edge and went down again. It’s a testimony to skiing that the people who looked most concerned about him after the crash were those waiting in the medal positions at the bottom.
If anyone was going to trouble the USA domination in finals, the qualifications suggested it would be the New Zealand brothers Byron Wells and Beau-James Wells, who qualified in fourth and fifth – but that duo of competitors was reduced to just Beau-James after Byron crashed out in qualifiers and was unable to compete.
Nevertheless, 16 year old Kiwi Nico Porteous also qualified further down the field and proved he was certainly not there to make up the numbers when he built on a great first run with a mesmerising second run that scored 94.80 and put him into the lead. That’s a medal score.
And his face after the score told you everything you needed to know.
On his final run Nico took is easy and sent it steezy down the course. He was settling for the 94.80, the run of his life so far, and you can see why. He laid down the gauntlet for the other riders, and only two of them were able to pick it up and beat him to the top of the table.
Beau-James turned his qualification run into a first final run of 87.40 where he sent some astronomical hits. He effectively landed his run first time and it was always going to be hard for him to build on that from there. In run two he went bigger but had a couple of flat landings, and he seemed to be using his second run to check a few things out for his final run.
That final run saw him step it up to a 91.6, sending an early switch double and then completing his usual run. He can be proud of that.
Kevin Rolland put down a sick run in qualifying to rank in sixth place as well, but it came at a price. He was seen to notably be holding his left hip after his run. Whether that injury was notable or not in the final is hard to say, but Rolland did crash out in both of his first runs.
Come run three he took another huge hit, and it’s fair to say it was hard to watch. The man who has won everything but the Olympics was unable to stick a run down in the Pyeongchang halfpipe.
His French compatriot Thomas Krief is the only non-North American to win a FIS halfpipe stop in the 17-18 season, but he couldn’t put down a run either. It was an off day for the French.
The Canadians Mike Riddle and Noah Bowman meanwhile were looking to up their game from qualifications, where they finished in seventh and ninth – though Noah Bowman’s ninth place finish was somewhat controversial – and they quickly landed their first runs to go temporarily into first and second place.
Noah Bowman’s first run of 89.40 set the pace from the get-go for the rest of the field. It was a spot that immediately put Noah in first place, and even as the higher scores kept coming in, the 89.40 kept Bowman in the third medal spot until the third and finals runs.
Bowman crashed his final run and when David Wise finally landed his run, Noah was pushed out of the medal spots.
It wasn’t to be Canada’s day. It was to be the day of David Wise. It was to be the day that Alex Ferreira almost won gold, and a day that a 16 year old kid went above and beyond what anybody expected of him to win bronze. It was a contest that will not be forgotten soon.
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