Click photo to enlarge
David Wise of the United States gets air during the men's ski halfpipe final at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
David Wise of the United States celebrates after his first run in the freestyle men’s ski halfpipe finals on Tuesday at the Winter Olympics.
David Wise of the United States celebrates after his first run in the freestyle men's ski halfpipe finals on Tuesday at the Winter Olympics. (Getty Images Europe | Cameron Spencer)

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- David Wise played it smart Tuesday night at the snowy Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

On a difficult, soggy evening that forced the trick skiers to dial it back a few notches, Wise let loose a controlled effort that was akin to a walk-off home run.

He threw a couple of big-scoring double corks to score 92.00 points to win the gold medal in the new Olympic sport of freeski half-pipe.

That was it. Mike Riddle of Canada rallied in the second run to take the silver with a score of 90.60, while Kevin Rolland of France got the bronze.

Josiah Wells was fourth, just missing a chance to earn New Zealand's first Winter Olympics medal in 22 years.

David Wise, of the United States, celebrates after winning a gold medal in the men’s ski halfpipe final at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014
David Wise, of the United States, celebrates after winning a gold medal in the men's ski halfpipe final at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. ((AP Photo/Jae C. Hong))

But Tuesday belonged to Wise, 23, who draped himself in a U.S. flag while family members serenaded him with an impromptu rendition of the national anthem.

"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."

America's newest extreme sports star isn't cocky, ultra cool or a member of the young, freewheeling party train often associated with the freestyle skiing and snowboarding.

Wise is just Dad.

First and foremost, he is father to 2-year-old Naylei, whose picture graced a poster Tuesday held by wife Lexi. The Reno couple didn't bring their daughter to Sochi because she wouldn't remember the experience.

Besides, Naylei is getting tired of waiting for her dad at the bottom of frigid half-pipes.

"She is just so over it," Lexi said. The toddler recently told her mom, "I don't want to put my gloves on."

The New York Times dubbed Wise "the undude," an apt description of the athlete who groomed his skills at Lake Tahoe's resorts.

"Skiing is just something he does, not who he is," said sister Christy Wise, one of six family members on scene to watch the golden moment through the blur of soft falling snow.

The way Christy tells it, she and twin sister Jessica paved the path for their younger brother. The Wise children were members of the Alpine Meadows ski club, and the sisters later skied in college.

David tried to keep up with the twins, "but he was always in the park screwing around," Christy said of the half-pipe. "Finally, they let him quit racing and go over to the park."

Good move. Wise liked launching himself from high places. He and Christy used to jump off the roof of their house with an umbrella. They were inspired by a famous Disney movie.

Christy Wise watches her brother David compete during the halfpipe at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. David Wise wound up winning the gold medal.
Christy Wise watches her brother David compete during the halfpipe at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. David Wise wound up winning the gold medal. (Courtesy of Wise family)

" 'Mary Poppins' is just a bad movie for adventurous kids," Christy said. "We had a trampoline and had all sorts of ideas."

Somehow the kids survived childhood.

Wise had more difficulty gaining traction in the action sports world. He didn't attract big-time sponsors and until three years ago was on the fringe of the sport.

"He doesn't live in Colorado, he doesn't party, so he doesn't get the movie offers," said Christy, a captain in the Air Force who flies C-130 planes. "He is kind of separated from that."

Wise also struggled after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in 2009. He never won when it mattered.

His sisters suggested he get a job or enroll in summer school. Get a backup plan.

Then Wise met Lexi, and they had a daughter. Wise, a Christian, didn't put all of his self worth into skiing anymore.

"He is one of the most loving people I've ever met," Lexi Wise said. "Outside of skiing, he just wants to love you."

Much more relaxed, Wise's skiing improved markedly. He won the Winter X Games gold medal in 2012. He won again in 2013 and again last month.

Now that he's added the Olympic gold medal, perhaps the phone will start ringing with endorsement opportunities.

Wise has a way of twirling and floating through space as if gravity doesn't exist.

"The riders all came out and stepped up and put on a good show despite 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. Lyman Currier of Boulder finished 28th out of 29 competitors in qualifying.

But this day belonged to a rock star.

Wise is known for collecting heart-shaped rocks for Lexi to let her know he is thinking about her while away at contests.

But in Sochi, it was Wise who received a rock from his wife. A memento from Reno "so I could have a little piece of home," he said.

He put the precious stone in a zipper pocket before riding through the stormy night.

The color of that stone?

Pure gold.

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.