David Wise became the first-ever Olympic halfpipe skiing champion Tuesday night, winning gold at the sport’s debut at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Four years ago Alex Deibold helped out his teammates as a wax technician in Vancouver. That was motivation enough to put in the sacrifice to be there himself in Sochi. Today, he became an Olympic medalist. A year ago Deibold was second in the Sochi test event. A few weeks later a shoulder injury took him out of action. But he buckled down on his rehab at the Center of excellence, got into school at Westminster College, and led selections for the 2014 Olympic Team. His medals run was a testament to his patience, waiting ‘Wescott like’ for that right moment to strike, with a strategic pass late in the race to take bronze.
Heavy rain pelted the 18-year-old World Champion during her second run, but she reigned in a world-class performance to land in the top five.
Tuesday’s result gives her great motivation for her next medal event, the women’s slalom on Friday.
Super combined bronze medalist Julia Mancuso did not finish her first run. It was her final race of the 2014 Olympics.
Resi Stiegler finished 29th and Megan McJames 30th. Shiffrin, Stiegler, McJames and Julia Ford will start in Friday’s slalom race.
A mix of snow up top, fog mid-course and rain in the bottom provided added challenges during both runs. The snow surface held up despite the precipitation and provided a great competition for the world’s top giant slalom athletes.
The men are set to ski giant slalom on Wednesday, when four-time World Cup champion Ted Ligety will look to win his first Olympic medal for giant slalom. Bode Miller will be skiing for his second giant slalom medal, while Tim Jitloff will race in his first Sochi event along with Jared Goldberg.
Tuesday was an off day for cross country with the classic team sprint Wednesday.
Team sprint roster for the women will be Kikkan Randall and Sophie Caldwell. For the men: Erik Bjornsen and Simi Hamilton.
Heavy snow falling in halfpipe at the Rosa Khutor venue didn’t slow down Wise, and he put down an unbeatable run in the first round that scored him a 92.00.
Aaron Blunck was the only other U.S. athlete to advance to the historic final, where he pulled out a seventh-place finish in the stacked competition.
Justin Dorey of Canada was the top qualifier going into the final, but Wise was able to pull out in front of Dorey during the final.
The wet, falling snow certainly had an effect on the athletes’ speed in the halfpipe, but many were able to manage it effectively, keeping their momentum through the transitions and adjusting the type and sequence of tricks in their runs.
Unfortunately, Team USA athletes Torin Yater-Wallace and Lyman Currier did not qualify for the final.
The final nordic combined competition is scheduled for Thursday with the team event. Event with Todd Lodwick expected to ski along with Demong, and the Fletchers.
Alex Deibold made a strategic pass late in the medals round to take bronze in snowboardcross at the rainy Rosa Khutor venue. He held onto his position until he spotted room in a corner for a pass and made his move.
Deibold was also on the podium during the Sochi World Cup test event in 2013, but then injured his shoulder. He underwent rehab at the Center of Excellence and took classes at Westminster College
He was invited to the 2010 Olympics as wax tech in Vancouver after he didn't qualify for the Olympic Team, and there he solidified his reputation as a hard worker. He has been patient and endured setbacks while always remaining focused on his Olympic dream.
In Tuesday’s event, rookie Trevor Jacob and Deibold went head to head in the semifinal, when Deibold barely snuck by Jacob in the final and advanced to the big final. Jacob then advanced to the small final and rode into ninth place.
Veterans Nate Holland and Nick Baumgartner tied for 25th.
Rain falling on the course created wet and slow conditions for the riders as they navigated the banked turns and big jumps at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park venue.
Next up, Justin Reiter rides for Team USA during his first Olympic appearance in the men’s parallel giant slalom snowboarding event on Wednesday.
LIVE STREAM Throughout the Games, every skiing and snowboarding event will be streamed LIVE on Stream.NBCOlympics.com and via the NBC Sports Live Extra mobile app (iPhone/iPad | Android).
NBC Live Streaming Schedule (all times EST) 12:00 a.m. - Men’s skiing giant slalom (First Run) 3:30 a.m. – Men’s skiing giant slalom (Second Run) 3:31 a.m. – Women’s snowboarding giant slalom 3:35 a.m. – Men’s snowboarding giant slalom 4:45 a.m. – Cross country women’s team sprint 5:15 a.m. - Cross country men’s team sprint