Canada's Noah Bowman, Mike Riddle miss podium in men's ski halfpipe
Alberta natives finish in 5th, 6th, respectively
By CBC Sports
Calgary's Noah Bowman and Mike Riddle of Sherwood Park, Alta., both crashed in their final two runs, capping a heart-breaking day in men's ski halfpipe for the Canadians in Pyeongchang.
With little margin for error, American David Wise was able to put together his first clean run of the day to vault past the Canadians and into first place.
Wise's 97.20 was good enough to stand for his second consecutive Olympic gold medal. Fellow American Alex Ferreira won silver, coming in just behind Wise in his last run at 96.40. New Zealand's Nice Porteous prevented an American sweep, scoring 94.80 to take bronze.
After going 26 years without a Winter Olympics medal, New Zealand picked up two on Thursday, with snowboard big air athlete Zoi Sadowski Synnott also winning bronze earlier in the day.
Each Canadian nailed his first run, with Bowman posting an 89.40 and Riddle grabbing 85.40. Bowman's score was good enough to put him in position for bronze entering the final run, before he was passed by Wise.
Bowman ended up placing fifth, with Riddle right behind him in sixth.
Riddle won silver at the world championships last year and finished second at the 2014 Games. Bowman finished fifth at the Sochi Olympics.
Knowing he wouldn't make the podium, the 2014 silver medallist put on his fan hat and simply enjoyed the scene.
"Just watching this unfold is pretty awesome," Riddle said.
He finished second in snowy, blustery conditions when the sport made its Olympic debut in Sochi and took sixth place this time around. Sunshine blazed on the Phoenix Park halfpipe and the 11-man field tried to take advantage.
"No one got to put down a run [in Sochi] that we were really proud of," Riddle said. "To have this kind of weather and conditions to put down the best runs and really show our sport to the world in that light is amazing."
Bowman pulled out of his second run early and fell on his third run. The 25-year-old, who finished fifth in Sochi too, appeared more disappointed than his teammate.
"The pipe is amazing, the weather is great, it's a perfect competition situation really," Bowman said. "It's just that we're going for the best runs of our lives and it's hard to put those down consistently.
"So I'm happy I landed one of three runs."
Wise's win marked the seventh gold medal for the U.S. in Pyeongchang, five of which have come at Phoenix Snow Park. Chloe Kim and Shaun White won snowboard halfpipe gold last week, and Red Gerard and Jamie Anderson won at snowboard slopestyle.
In Seoul a few weeks ago, Wise and Ferreira huddled up and decided to get matching tattoos of the logo for the Pyeongchang Games on their left arms. They were fitting tributes to all the work they put in and the suffering they endured on the road to South Korea.
"I certainly felt like I needed to do something epic to commemorate this journey, because it's been a really hard struggle the last couple years," Wise said. "I've been through a lot, and making the team for me was a lifetime accomplishment. Freeskiing won."
The snowboard and freestyle skiing crews have picked up the slack for the U.S. team in these Olympics. Those competitors have accounted for 10 of the country's 19 medals, many of them at the snow park located an hour away from the Gangneung Olympic Plaza.
Wise had a big cheering section of family and friends at the bottom of the halfpipe, and most of them had "David Wise" drawn on their faces. Wise's sister, Christy, is an Air Force rescue pilot who lost a leg in a paddleboarding accident in 2015, and Wise is giving 10 percent of all his earnings this season to a foundation he and his sisters created: One Leg Up On Life.
With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press