Getting to Know The Wise Man

Pipe phenom David Wise talks about his breakout season

Words and video: Derek Taylor
Ski footage courtesy of Alli Sports and 4FRNT

I don’t know what I was expecting. Maybe a little more dangle, more thug. Perhaps a basketball jersey, a flat brim ball cap with the sticker still on it, and a bit of attitude—something befitting of a skier who just won the last two major pipe contests, including the grand poobah of them all, the Winter X Games.

Instead, in walked David Wise, a clean-cut 21-year-old Reno native wearing a blue flannel over a T-shirt. It was mid February, and Wise had just followed up his gold medal at Winter X with a win at the Dew Tour Toyota Championships at Snowbasin, then stuck around in Utah for a few more days to film with his new ski sponsor, 4FRNT. Wise would go on to win the Grand Prix in Mammoth to cap a run in which he won three major contests in a row. His winning streak came to an end in Tignes, France, where Wise took the bronze at Euro Winter X.

Coincidentally or not, Wise’s run to the top of the podium started less than a month after he signed with 4FRNT. Heading into the season, he was shopping for a new ski sponsor, and while many could offer money and travel support, no one could give him what he really wanted: skis made specifically for the pipe. While in Breckenridge for the Grand Prix stop there, Wise met 4FRNT owner Matt Sterbenz, who had something that other ski companies couldn’t offer: his own ski press, and experience building Eric Hjorliefson’s highly acclaimed, limited-edition pro model, The Renegade. Within a month, Wise had new skis, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I met up with the married father of a newborn girl at Chris’s, an eatery in Huntsville, Utah, just down the hill from Snowbasin. He was on his way out of town, back home to Tahoe to spend a precious few days with his wife and baby before heading to Switzerland for a shoot with his apparel sponsor, O’Neill. Over breakfast and off camera, we talked about family—both in the literal and figurative sense—what it was like growing up near Squaw Valley and idolizing C.R. Johnson, and what it means to be part of a tight-knit team that features unique personalities such as Hjorleifson, Cody Barnhill and Wiley Miller.

On camera, Wise took us behind the scenes in his new partnership, discussed his unique lifestyle and shed some light on his meteoric rise to the top.