Wise is also calculated where others improvise. Case in point: Kotsenberg had never even tried the trick he landed to win snowboard slopestyle gold -- a backside 1620 Japan -- before he threw it out in finals. Then he said he couldn't believe the judges rewarded his creativity and technicality over his competitors' triple corks. That blend of daring and humility wins over fans and competitors and stands in stark comparison to the uber-calculated Wise, who prepared and practiced four different finals runs, knowing the weather conditions in Sochi were unpredictable. After the event, he told reporters the run he won gold with was his "Plan C or D," a comment that surely ribbed his fellow skiers.
"David has been misunderstood by a lot of people and this is an opportunity to show that he's not just out here for himself and he's not conceited," said Lexi, who flew to Sochi with David's parents and twin sisters and, after a long season of travel, decided to leave Nayeli home with Nana. "He's a spokesman and he wants to represent his sport and his country, but also his town, his family, his friends. I think the world needs to see more people like David. We drink. We go out. We dance. We have a good time. But it's not our lifestyle to do that every day, and we don't look down on those who do."
Turns out, the perception of Mr. Wise may already be changing for the better. Especially with younger skiers less hardened to what they believe the image of an action sports star should be. His three teenaged teammates on the freeski halfpipe team -- Aaron Blunck, Lyman Currier and Torin Yater-Wallace -- refer to Wise as "Dad." That has as much to do with their respect for him as an athlete and mentor as the fact that he is the only young father on tour.
So far, the Sochi Olympics have produced several surprise American gold medalists in action sports -- Kaitlyn Farrington, Christensen, Kotsenberg -- and they are all young, fun and marketable. They're also single and kid-free. In an Olympics that saw action sports' most famous athlete, the uber-competitive Shaun White, fail to make a podium, the athletes who did are being billed as a refreshing change. And while they lock up the section of Madison Avenue looking to link arms with laid-back athletes living rock-star lives, Wise is certain to snag his share of the post-Olympic pie.
"David is living the all-American dream. He has a wife and a daughter. He's a philanthropist and he's very successful in competition at a young age," longtime freeski analyst Chris Ernst said. "That gives a whole different look to marketers who are going after a wholesome athlete. Maybe he's the first athlete on a Wheaties box with his family."
Sure, the Olympics are ripe with wholesome athletes, but Wise is a squeaky-clean gold medalist in one of the most popular and newest sports at the Games. In the mainstream, he is considered cool by virtue of the sport in which he competes; standing out in the coolest crowd in Sochi and being one of the few U.S. athletes to live up to pre-Olympic hype only compounds his cool. And it just might make him the most marketable guy in Sochi.