David Wise. PHOTO: KEITH CARLSEN

This story appeared in the October issue.

Just after his daughter Nayeli was born, David Wise started a season that would take him from relative obscurity to established pro. The Reno, Nevada, native became the first father to win Ski SuperPipe gold at Winter X. Then, Wise, 22, went on a roll, winning men’s halfpipe at the Snowbasin stop of the Winter Dew Tour and the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth, and finishing third at European Winter X in Tignes, France. Wise’s U.S. Freeskiing Halfpipe Coach Andy Woods saw his rise coming. “It was a bit of a pleasant surprise that he figured it out so quickly and suddenly, but the talent was always there,” says Woods of the skier who, in 2008, was the first to throw a double cork 1260 in the pipe. “He was one of the big reasons I took this job.”

Going into X Games
the thing that changed the most was that I stopped worrying if I was going to do well or not. Whether I can eat or not, or the heat is on in the house or not, depends on whether I finish well in contests.

I never thought
in a million years that I’d be the guy that got married so young. There’s just a moment when you realize that the person you’re with is the right person for you, and it’s never going to get any better, so there’s nothing else to do.

It’s important to me to remain true
to who you are. I’m doing the best to be the same person. People pay more attention to you when you have an X Games gold than they would if you were just another member of the pack of skiers.

It’s just beer-league softball
. I like pitching the most because it’s the most intense position. It’s the best mental training for me. You can be losing by 40 runs but you still have to hit the strike zone.

[Fatherhood’s] hard. It’s extra work. It’s easy when you’re on the road to get caught up in what you’re doing. I have to focus on whether I’m spending enough time talking to my wife and helping out when I’m around. Three weeks at home out of a six-month block is pretty intense, but it’s not impossible, either.

I’m careful when I talk about [Christianity]. I’ve had people say strange things to me. Like if I do well I try to tell them not to worry about things, and I’ve had people say, ‘Oh, well that’s too bad I don’t have God on my side.’ So I’m careful about that, but yeah, my faith plays a huge part on my skiing and my life.

I was afraid of babies my whole life. So the first diaper I ever changed was Nayeli’s. You think it’s going to be weird and gross, but you just do it. It doesn’t bother you because that’s your kid, and there’s something kind of cool about that.

I used to think I was a total anomaly because the ski industry is kind of infiltrated with people—we go out, we’re in the limelight, we get to do what we love—and then you go and party.

I don’t think there are as few Christian
s in this sport as you might think. That’s been kind of cool getting to know people like Kelly Clark, who’s a snowboarding phenom as a Christian and is very outspoken about it. And Jossi Wells and Andreas [Hatveit]. There’s a pretty solid group who are Christians and have their faith play into who they are as people.

There’s nothing unique about people who go out and party every weekend. It’s almost more rebellious to be a person of faith in this world than to be the opposite. It’s important if you’re going to be a person of faith to make sure that it’s your own thing.

I hit 15 or 16 and I had a stage in my life where I read everything and really got into things. You can think about facts or argue faiths all you want, but there’s a time that God speaks to you and you hear it. Since I had that moment, I’ve never really looked back or doubted my faith, ever.

The only thing you have control over
is what you are doing in the moment. I wrote on my jacket, ‘embrace the opportunity.’