'You're here to create' -- A coaching word to Wise delivers gold

David Wise fell on both of his first two runs in the ski halfpipe final but produced a superb final run to clinch gold and retain his Olympic title. Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- There was a brief moment before David Wise dropped in to take his third run in the ski halfpipe finals when he thought about scaling back his tricks. He'd fallen on his first two attempts and ejected from his skis.

Standing next to his U.S. coaches with a third pair of skis on his feet, he realized that if he took one double cork out of his run, he would improve his chances of landing.

He'd come so far in the four years since he'd won gold in the sport's debut in Sochi; his family had flown so far to support him. He didn't want to let them down. "I mentioned the idea to my coaches, and they both looked at me and were like, 'That's not who you are,'" Wise said. "'You're here to create.'"

Wise realized that not attempting the run he came to Pyeongchang to land -- a run he'd been thinking about for years, filled with tricks he'd fought so hard to learn -- would be a bigger disappointment than not winning a medal. If he didn't go for it, he would let himself down.

"I feel like I was put on this planet to create and do new things, to be a pioneer," Wise said. "So I went for it, all four doubles. I landed, and I'm over the moon. Absolutely, it was the best run of my life."

It was the most technical run in ski halfpipe history, and with it, Wise became a two-time gold medalist. He is the only man ever to win an Olympic ski halfpipe contest.

"I really care about freeskiing," Wise said. "I care about the quality of the competition. So, having had issues on my first two runs but seeing how amazing people were skiing made me realize that freeskiing won today whether I landed my third run or not. That gave me a little bit of a boost."

Wise had attempted to become the first halfpipe skier to land double corks in all four directions -- right, left, switch (backward) right and switch left -- at the Dew Tour in December, but he was unable to ride away clean. In January, he returned to the top of the X Games Aspen podium by becoming the first skier to do so. His winning Olympic run, which included back-to-back switch double corks, was all that and more.

"He's never done that run as clean and as big as he just did," said U.S. freeski head coach Mike Jankowski. "It's so hard to do those unnatural-direction rotations, and to do switch unnatural double-corked rotations is mind-blowing."

That he did so on his third run when the pressure was on came as no surprise to Jankowski. "David believes in himself," he said. "When the heat is on, these athletes turn it on even hotter. So many of our medal-winning runs [in snowboard and freeskiing] have come on third runs. Arielle Gold [bronze in halfpipe], Red Gerard [gold in slopestyle], Shaun White [gold in halfpipe], David. That proves how mentally tough this U.S. team is."

When Wise dropped in to take his third run, his U.S. teammate, Alex Ferreira, was sitting atop the leaderboard. The most consistent skier of the day, Ferreira landed five double corks in all three of his runs and improved his score each time, eventually taking silver. Sixteen-year-old Nico Porteous landed the only six-hit runs of the day and took bronze, the first man from New Zealand to win a Winter Olympic medal.

"I worked really hard to be here," said Ferreira, who barely missed making the 2014 Olympic halfpipe team. "I started taking myself more professionally. I want to do well, but I also want to carry myself well and be a good representative for the younger kids coming up in our sport."

Throughout the month, Wise and Ferreira have been roommates in the Olympic Village. Before Tuesday's qualifier, they watched reruns of "That '70s Show," and the night before finals, they screamed at the TV when Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins became the first women to win an Olympic cross-country medal for the U.S. "That fired me up," Ferreira said.

A few days after arriving in Seoul, Wise asked Ferreira whether he wanted to do something special to commemorate their Olympic experience. "It was Dave's idea to get tattoos," Ferreira said. The roommates had time before they needed to be in Pyeongchang, so they found a tattoo shop in the Gangnam District of Seoul and had the Pyeongchang Olympic logo, which includes two symbols -- one representing the meeting of heaven and earth, the other representing winter -- tattooed onto their arms.

"Making this team was the hardest accomplishment of my life," Wise said. "I wanted to do something epic to remember that I'd made the Pyeongchang Olympic team."

Thursday afternoon, he and Ferreira did something epic that fans of freeskiing will remember.