Freeski Halfpipe and the Undude

By Betty Thomason Owens

The medal ceremonies are the highlight of the Olympics. Especially for the gold medal winners. To make it to the Olympics at all is a major achievement. To medal crowns that experience. I love to watch the ceremonies, no matter who the winner is, but it is especially fun when my favorite champion is front and center. This was the case as I watched the freestyle half-pipe skier, Dave Wise receive his gold medal. Not only did he win the gold, he won the very first gold ever in a brand new winter olympic sport.

And what an exciting sport to watch! You may have seen previews of the X-game sport  when you watched previous winter olympics, but this is the first year in competition for them.

I must confess, my interest in Dave Wise stemmed from something that has alienated him. His “uncoolness.” The “undude” debunks the norm. He’s married, he’s a daddy, he’s openly religious, he loves to read, which immediately endears him to me. But he will never star in a beer commercial. You get the idea. The big money won’t back him. He may not be considered “bankable.” And that is a problem. But it won’t stop him. Because there’s someone bigger backing him than any of the alcohol conglomerates or any other company, for that matter. David Wise

He’s low-key, against the grain–“peculiar” if you will–isn’t that what we’re supposed to be in this world? Here’s a chance to get to know him, just in case you’ve missed the interviews: 

And in case you haven’t seen the freestyle skiing (called freeski halfpipe for short), it’s like skateboarding on skis. My sons were “into” skateboarding, so I’m familiar with some of the terms, though I may use them improperly. It is truly one of the more exciting events to watch at the winter olympics. However, I would never want anyone related to me involved in this sport. I could never watch. There’s a lot of empty air between them and earth.

Honestly, I would love the thrill of the open air these guys experience, whether on skis or skateboard. But I’m content to watch the video. Really. I can watch, I can read the stories and the interviews and the only danger is that I’ll fall asleep in front of my computer or television screen. I’m not going to break a bone unless I’m snoozing so hard, I slide out of my chair and hit the floor.

If you missed the freeski halfpipe competition, I’d recommend you find the video on youtube and watch it. I think you’ll be as impressed as I was by Dave’s performance, especially under less than perfect weather conditions. And that’s really what these competitions are all about––excelling at your chosen sport even in bad circumstances. That’s when the preparation and the hard work really pays off.

6 thoughts on “Freeski Halfpipe and the Undude

  1. I heard someone compare our Christian walk and the Olympics. They’re very similar, if you want the gold medal bad enough. You relentlessly train and get good counsel, you race with others, but retain your good sportsmanship, you keep your mind focused and see yourself executing your skills and talents perfectly around every turn, you work on not just the big stuff, but are well aware that even small things count. You are keenly aware that the medal is simply a result of your personal training and self realization. When you are finally tested, every aspect of how you have conducted yourself shows in a glaring bright light. As you receive your medal, in great humility and grace, you bow your head to the one that gently places the medal around your neck. Just my thoughts, with a hat tip to Jeremy Franklin!

    • Thanks, Sherrie. You can definitely apply this to our Christian walk. And if we all trained like Olympians, we’d be awesome. Thanks!

  2. I loved hearing about David on TV. He was first spotted on my radar on an ABC News story, when reporter Matt Gutman said, “You’d never think a guy who rips these death defying tricks for a living, here at the X games, is a youth pastor who met his wife at church camp” ( As a former youth minister, and father-in-law to a VERY energetic and athletic youth pastor (who would be on the Portland Trailblazers if they’d take him), I couldn’t help but wonder what was the part that the TV audience would “never think”? Does Mr. Gutman really assume that youth pastors don’t do ski tricks? Or that they don’t compete? Or that Christians have theological issues with the skiing the halfpipe? I tried not to take too much offense, but it does speak to the misconceptions about pastors. I’ll try to just be proud of Mr. Wise’s accomplishments, and be happy that he has shown the world the “COOL” side of being a pastor. 🙂

    Good article, Betty! Thank you for your thoughts.

  3. I haven’t heard of this or seen this before today. I didn’t even see one event of the Olympics this year. That’s CRAZY!

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