Mental Strength at the Olympics

physical strength does not outweigh your mental strength

Practice for Finals

Mental strength is never more necessary than in adverse conditions. From the first run of practice onwards it was a day of adjustments. The wind was inconsistent, some practice runs I could boost and sometimes I felt like I was barely getting above the lip. About mid way through practice I decided to abandon the switch right dub 10 in favor of the switch right 9 in the interest of speed for the rest of my run. I put a run together with my left 1620 lead stale grab in it and knew that it was a good run for the conditions. 

Olympic Finals
Getting ready to Drop into Finals at the 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing.

Finals Run 1

If anything the wind got worse between the last run of practice and first run of finals. I watched the first four runs and talked strategy with my coaches, Mike Riddle, and Jeremie Livingston, and decided that a solid run with the switch left dub 10 and both left and right dub 12s might actually do well on this day even though it was significantly lower difficulty than what I was hoping for. 

Experience is a priceless commodity

The ability to read the conditions and my fellow competitors paid off on my first run. Making changes to your run on competition day is difficult. Doing the same run repetitively is the easiest way to do it well in competition. It builds muscle memory and requires less brainpower mid-competition. Many halfpipe riders have a qualifiers run and a finals run that they train all season long and only make small adjustments to. The Achilles heel of this strategy is that some tricks or combinations simply won’t work in bad conditions. Most of the difficult tricks that I do require a lot of amplitude, or height out of the pipe. Amplitude takes a big hit in heavy snowfall or wind. In this situation I was able to draw on my arsenal of competition experience and come up with a run with some of my technical tricks. My goal on run one was to go bigger with slightly lower difficulty tricks.

Gambling with 1260s

Every mental move that I make on competition day is a bit of a gamble. Some days I go for my hardest run right out of the gate because I know that I will have three chances to land it. I rarely do a “safety” run; an easier run with a higher chance of landing. When I’m competing, some part of me needs to feel like I am going for it, giving it everything I have. Safety runs don’t feel to me like going for it, in spite of the fact that they are sometimes a good strategy. The Beijing halfpipe was one of the best halfpipes ever built. Without the wind the run I won silver with would have been considered a safety run. Experience paid off because I was able to recognize that the wind conditions were severe enough to warrant an easier run. Because the tricks I was doing in my run were “easier” I shifted my mental focus toward amplitude and grabs and fortunately the judges rewarded me for it.

Right 1080 tail grab. Photo: Mike Dawsy

Finals Run 2

It was cold and I cracked a binding piece under my heel on my first run.  It was a minor crack and those skis were running fast so I decided to stick with them for run 2. I had significantly less speed on my second run and popped too hard on my second hit, maybe without the crack in my binding my ski would have stayed on… I will never know. 

The Post Competition Battle in the Mind

There is a mental deconstruction I go through after every contest, no matter how well I do. I am a strategist, which means I’m always looking for ways to improve. At the end of every competition I take time to process the event as a whole. Then, I go through it systematically. Skiing is not the only place in my life this is applicable. I believe you can find value in assessing yourself in your own workplace. Moreover, I believe it is important to evaluate ourselves on a human level. How we interact with the world around us, and conduct ourselves in our relationships matters. I hope we can all agree, in humility, that we are wrong and have areas in our life that we need to grow and change. I challenge you to take a look into your own life, business and personal, and discover ways that you can improve or weakness that you can strengthen.


This isn’t everyones style. My teammate and friend, Birk Irving, revealed his personal strategy with Alex Ferreira and I during some down time at the Olympics this year. His approach to skiing and competing was totally different from mine. Birk’s strategy works well for Birk. I sincerely respect him as a skier, and as a competitor. With that being said, I want to clarify that I don’t have it all figured out. Often, I admit to my wife, “I have no idea what I’m doing in this situation.”

Find your own Vibe

Everyone has their own style that works for them, I encourage you to find yours. If I can help you discover something that helps you, I’m honored. Likewise, if there is something that is not applicable to you, simply move on. However, I challenge you to give everything at least one try. Over the years I have explored a multitude of alternative training styles, diets, visualization techniques, etc in the search to be more effective at what I do. Less than 10% of them stand the test of time and make it into my routine, but I wouldn’t know if they were effective or not if I wasn’t bold enough to try them.

mental strength competition
US Freeski Photo: Mike Dawsy

Who totally nailed it today? Celebrate them.

It’s not all about you. You’re not the only one who failed or succeeded today. Does someone around you need to be acknowledged, validated, and known? Take time to see them and their efforts. Many times in skiing, I’ve found that the individuals most qualified for congratulations were not on the podium. In my opinion that’s because I find more honorable character in how they handle their loss, than the tricks they stomped. The world will praise the trophy winners. Who is in the shadows doing an exceptional job?

Losing with grace

I learn a lot from watching my competitors quietly. When they own 4th and 5th place with grace and determination to continue, they gain mental giant points in my book. This is something that I have always struggled with so it always impresses me when I see highly competitive people lose with grace. When I am disappointed with my results it reveals something about me. It shows me that I am trying not to lose rather than skiing my absolute best on that day.

Celebrate the Outliers

There is something uniquely amazing about everyone around you. Take a moment to be proud of them. Personally, I am an introverted individual so I rarely communicate these praises directly. If you are like me, that’s okay. Thanking God for them/ sending them positive energy, in your own spirit is a good start. Currently, I’m working on getting out of my comfort zone and trying to make the effort to tell them personally. As you can, work up to that goal.

What went wrong?

Whether you crushed it this week in the office, or landed your first sale; there is always room to improve. Humble yourself at the apex of your career. Don’t become stagnant just because you reached one goal. Keep moving, and improving, always looking to the next goal. A lot of potential is wasted due to complacency and comfortability.

mental strength in practice
Amplitude feels GOOD. Photo; Mike Dawsy

Where am I weak?

Start with admitting what you messed up, as small as it may seem. Humility is at the core of all great leaders. If you are not willing to admit failure, how can you expect those following you to own up to theirs? As humans we all have a bad habit of relying on our strengths too often. Meanwhile, our weaknesses only get weaker. When I was recovering from a shattered femur, the primary muscles like my quads, hamstrings and glutes came back to full strength quickly. The minor hip muscles that are vital to balance remained atrophied for a long time. Within six months I could match my previous best on the leg press, but I couldn’t execute any of my tricks with anything even approaching finesse. If I had just been satisfied with the quad strength and not spent countless hours on the weak spots, there would have been no third Olympics to even write a blog post about.

Don’t skip mental leg day

We all know a strong looking dude that clearly skips leg day, how effective is he going to be in the zombie apocalypse? Don’t skip leg day in your mental approach either. It’s vital to all leadership that we acknowledge where we are weak so that we can spend time strengthening those areas. It may not be obvious to you right away. Not every leader has a visible crack in their binding that causes a ski to come off. Sometimes they have to be very introspective and honest with themself to understand what went wrong. So if you are struggling to locate your weaknesses, ask a close friend or family member you trust to let you know where you need to improve. As a business person, ask your employees or coworkers how they feel about you and how you can improve in working with them.

Who’s your workout buddy?

I’m fortunate in the fact that I can ask my wife where I am going wrong and I know she will answer truthfully, but not vindictively. It is important to surround yourself with truth speakers who aren’t afraid to tell you hard things. If you are surrounded by people who only praise you when you succeed, but stay quiet when you fail, you are skipping mental leg day. Ask questions. Be ready for answers that you might not like. Those answers will grow you into a better human.

making friends with mental strength
Photo: Mike Dawys

How can I Strengthen my weaknesses?

Don’t be a victim

This isn’t a pity party. Spending time beating yourself up and calling yourself names doesn’t help. There is always a solution to the problem you are facing, or caused. For example: repent, apologize, take ownership of what you did wrong. This is a simple solution that is often overlooked for many common problems. Most people like to be right, and often our pride gets in the way of really seeing how we contributed to the problem. It is much easier to see how someone else went wrong that how we did. Reconciling relationships in the workplace, and in your personal life is a great tool to regain strength in weak areas. I have found that seeking justice, proving to myself I was right, was actually just preventing me from moving on from what could have been an obsolete problem.

Don’t be an accuser

Likewise, this is also not a blaming party to reveal all the ways someone else wronged you. Practice forgiving people, or situations that may have caused you to lose. There are a lot of moving pieces during a ski contest. It would be easy for me to sit in frustration about the weather, the judges, the equipment, poor sleep, a mediocre breakfast, etc.

Fight bitterness

Bitterness is actually the most natural response to situations that seem unfair, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. The healthier solution is to acknowledge the unfortunate situation. If something needs to be forgiven, forgive it. If something that you can fix needs to be fixed, fix it. Then, it’s time to move on. Don’t beat a dead horse. It’s true I have experienced some unfair treatment, in my own opinion. I have also been rewarded at times that I didn’t deserve it. Being able to acknowledge both forms of injustice, when you suffered and when you benefitted, is key. It takes the same amount of humility to admit that you don’t deserve everything that you have as it does to forgive injustice in the midst of crisis and move on.

Don’t be a savior

You might be overthinking it completely. You can’t solve the worlds problems, because you can’t even solve your own. Maybe you just need to surrender control. Accept the uncontrollable. Sometimes problems are unavoidable no matter how well you plan for the future. Learning how to accept the struggle may be your only way forward. Acknowledge how small you are in this universe. Ski some backcountry near avalanche terrain; stand by the ocean; look up at the stars, get lost in the wilderness backpacking. Feel the magnitude of the world around you. When you really think about it, how much do you actually control? I challenge you to find your higher power; mine is King Jesus, Creator of all. Submitting to his plan and authority is how I get past the nagging failures in my life. Don’t be the savior of the worlds problems, there already is one.

winning silver with mental strength technique
Photo: Mike Dawsy

Finish with gratitude.

The foundation of every mental giant is gratitude; it is the core of all my mental strength tools. Thankfulness is vital to mental strength. You can’t have one without the other. Without gratitude all this information is obsolete. If you can’t learn to be thankful for the climb, you won’t be able to fully appreciate the peak. For me, skiing is a form of worship. Skiing my absolute best is how I express gratitude to the God that created snow. You can practice gratitude regardless of your religious beliefs. Being thankful is a peaceful and enjoyable way to exist. Being a professional halfpipe skier is stressful and overwhelming at times. If I can’t be thankful for some of the stuff I have to endure to stay at the top, then I might as well give up.

Thankful for the small things

Maybe you’re finding yourself here in your current job. Find small things to be thankful for often. If you spend more time being consciously grateful, you will spend less time being unconsciously bitter. Find a space and place you can live in gratitude, even if it means taking a pay cut, moving to a smaller city, or leaving work early to enjoy your family or hobbies that evening. Life is too precious to squander on grumbling and problem solving. Find your joy again, and end your day in thanksgiving.

showing mental strength competing in halfpipe at the Olympics
Right 900 two handed tail. Photo: Mike Dawsy

Finals Run 3

For run 3 I switched to my backup skis. I took a run down the side of the pipe and they felt just as fast as my primaries so I decided to run with them rather than moving the bindings over to my primaries. As soon as I dropped in for run 3 I knew something wasn’t right. It turned out that I didn’t check my skis closely enough and they weren’t “detuned” on the tips and tails. We actually round the edges a little bit on the first 6 inches of the tips and tails, otherwise it can be too easy to catch an edge. Every halfpipe skier tunes and detunes their skis differently; it is a minute detail that makes a massive difference in how the skis feel. I felt like a fish out of water on run 3. 

I’m not a judge, but I think that if I had landed my third run at the same amplitude as my first run with the left 1620 I might have had a chance to give Nico a run for his money and bring home a third Gold. This was a rookie mistake, and one that I take full ownership of. In PyeongChang I experienced enough equipment failure to cause me to bring six pairs of skis this time around. If I was more mindful of the fact that I might not be able to do all of my runs on my favorite skis, I would have taken practice runs on my backup skis. Even as I am writing this, it still seems outlandish to me that I made this mistake, but I did.

Learn from your mistakes

You’re never too old to learn a new thing. Experience, knowledge and strategy helped me win silver, but a rookie mistake cost me my shot at the gold.  That’s a mistake I hope to never make again. I could beat myself up about it for the next four years if I wanted to. Instead I am choosing to be thankful for the lesson.

mental strength success and failure
Photo: Mike Dawsy

Successful failure

Bowhunting is my favorite cross training for skiing because there are so many different ways to mess it up. If I’m too fast the animal I’m stalking will hear me and run away. Going too slow might make me miss my opportunity and the animal will walk away. Sometimes I get up wind of the animal it smells me and runs away. Many times, it sees me and runs away. Sometimes I do everything perfectly and something outside my control scares the animal off. Each time I pick the hunt apart and learn from my mistakes. I become successful by overcoming failures. My time bowhunting prepares me well for competition and life. Each time I fail is another opportunity to learn a lesson. The greatest mistake we can make in life is not learning from our mistakes.

Try One Mental Strength Technique This Week

I invite you to try it out for yourself. In this blog post, I’ve condensed eight years of mental strength experience at the Olympics. If you use just one of these mental strength tools, you’re off to a great start.

Embrace gratitude; surrender bitterness.

Make time to be introspective.

Surround yourself with truth speakers.

Own your mistakes; repent.

Practicing presence.

“Give In” to Love

Wise Wedding

Give in. By David and Alexandra Wise

I am excited to tie this blog post to a Valentine’s Day re-release of a video that Alexandra and I worked on for two years: “Give In.” The years that we were working on this also happened to be two of the most challenging years of both of our lives. All that struggle served as a test of our willingness to “Give In” to each other and highlighted the necessity of doing so.

Watch the video here, and then read on:

The video highlights two characters on two seemingly different journeys, but at its climax we realize that they have both been journeying toward each other all along. That is how it has felt for me. I spent so much time thinking I was on my own and was working for myself, but the journey was always drawing me to a place where I could “Give In” to Alexandra and be a better husband to her.

Since it is Valentine’s Day, let me start out with a heartfelt confession to my wife: you are way too good for me. Seriously, I married up… like, way up. Your love for me and the kids gives me something to aspire to every day. I thank God every day for allowing me to be a part of your life. I am eternally in your debt.

“Giving in,”

or putting your spouse before yourself, isn’t really a well promoted concept in our society. I think most people approach dating and relationships wondering what the other person can do for them. Are they attractive enough (and will they remain that way)? Do they have enough of my favorite qualities? Do they make enough money? Do they come from a good family? Are my future new in-laws palatable? Will we look good together? Will they bolster or hurt my reputation? Do they like enough of the same things I do? I’m not saying that these things aren’t important, I’m just pointing out how “ME” centered they are. Most relationships fall apart because both partners put themselves before the other habitually (usually one more than the other) and eventually someone decides that they have had enough.

I can tell you that I fell into this trap as well. Not being selfish is difficult in life as a professional athlete. A typical day might involve eating a protein rich breakfast; getting in a small work out and stretch; training and trying to improve my skills on skis; eating a protein-rich lunch; maybe going to see the physio to work on any ailments I might have; watching video of myself with my coaches and analyzing my technique; I might spend some time on the trampoline or doing yoga depending on the day; then I would eat another big meal. All those items seem self-centered. As athletes we get to be the front men for a big team of people: coaches, equipment techs, physical therapists, doctors, psychologists, administrators, etc. These people don’t work directly for us, they work for the team, but their whole role is based around serving the athletes, so it is easy to take them for granted.

I approached marriage in a similar way. I expected my wife to just jump on board and serve me and my purposes. Early on I didn’t communicate well with her. I didn’t let her in to my struggles. I wasn’t vulnerable about the difficulties I was going through. I was often distant and sullen because I was going through struggles that I thought she couldn’t understand. I also didn’t do a good job of expressing my interest in or my support of her hopes and dreams. Meanwhile, I struggled to understand her frustration and difficulty supporting the things that I was pursuing. I am so grateful to my wife for standing by me in those early years despite my stupidity and pride. I don’t know how she did it. Luckily, she stuck around long enough for me to learn something vital: unconditional love is the cornerstone to a healthy relationship. Early on I was caught up in the conditional love cycle: I’ll work for her, but only as hard as she works for me; I’ll sacrifice for her, but only as much as she is willing to sacrifice for me; I’ll serve her, but only as much as she is willing to serve me. Here is a little secret: if you approach relationships like this then someone will always be in debt and you will never be truly free. It is only when you surrender your need for justice and truly put your significant others needs before your own, that your relationship will take the first step toward freedom. My wife doesn’t forgive me when I mess up because I deserve it (most of the time I don’t). She forgives me because she truly loves me and wants me to prosper. I think if we all strove to truly put our significant others’ needs first we would be surprised by how content and joyful we would be about it. If she puts me first, and I put her first, we are both well taken care of. Surrendering our need for control and our desire to have our needs met is ironically the first step to freedom. When both members of a relationship put each other first, everyone is well taken care of. That is what “giving in” means to me. I believe I exist for two reasons: to serve God and to serve the people around me, starting first and foremost with my wife, followed closely by my kids. This video is a representation of that journey to “Give In” to my wife and her needs. I thought by putting her first I was surrendering my freedom, but in the end, I was only beginning to discover true freedom.

My name is David, and I Give In.

Once upon a time there was a boy who thought he was a man, Me.
I spotted you from a mile away and saw you as a temporary prize,
A tall athletic brunette with bright eyes.
I thought “She’ll make a perfect addition to my trophy case”
But you and God had a different plan.
The supposed conqueror became the victim,
In the end it was my pride that was destroyed. -Good riddance
I was a child playing stick ball, and you belonged in the major leagues.
For three years you would flit in and out of my life,
always leaving me yearning for more, inspiring me to something greater.
Then one day you fluttered down to my level and allowed me to call you: “Girlfriend”
I knew I was lucky then, but I had no idea that it was the start of something better, and harder, and more rewarding than I could have imagined.
Never in my life did I have a better idea than to ask you to be my wife.
I was NEVER more fortunate than when you said “Yes”.
I used to think I knew everything about you.
Seven years later I know I’ve only begun to scratch the surface.
You showed me what love, kindness and humility are.
You lead a life that makes me want to be a better man.
You motivate me to a better future, without shaming my broken past.
What is love without conditions?
Ask her, She’ll tell you.
So Butterfly, I want you to know that I love you.
I love you for your flaws and weaknesses, just as much as your beauty and strength.
God gave you the flaws to keep you within my reach, though you’ll always woefully outclass me.
Thank you for stopping your flight long enough for me to catch you.
It still amazes me that you decided to stay.
I like who I am becoming because of you, and I LOVE who you are becoming in spite of me!
Thank you for eight years of your precious life,
whether we have seven, or seventy, or seven hundred left,
I will be forever yours, as long as you will have me.

When I married david,

I didn’t know what love was. I mean, real love.

Not lust, not selfish love, not comfortable or convenient love.

Real. Raw. Empowering. Self-sacrificing. Painful. Deep. Uncomfortable. Unconditional.


Just because 1 Corinthians 13 is read at almost every wedding ceremony, does not mean the two individuals actually have a concept for it themselves.  Nor does it mean they will practice it with each other in the days to come. But from my experience of “Give In” with David during our hardest two and half years, I believe I learned how to love David best by learning how to accept the love he had for me.

Until I married David, I did not know that I was loved. So, I fought for love in every situation I found myself in. Whether I was fighting for love with God, David, our daughter, my friends, my own family, or my in-laws, it was always rooted in the deeper issue that I did not know my own worth and value. I was a mess. I acted like an entitled child throwing a tantrum for a lollipop that had to be purchased before the parent could hand it to the toddler. That sucker was mine, but I fought for it like it wasn’t. Until “Give In” happened.

The making of the music Video “Give in,” for me, has been a long and sometimes torturous process of learning how to accept the relentless love of God over my life. I was stubborn to believe that I could neither gain more grace from doing good, than I could lose grace from doing wrong. And that frustrated me. I wanted to earn God’s love as much as I wanted to earn David’s love. My lack of awareness or understanding that I already had God’s Love was my downfall. It wasn’t until I learned that I could not fail him, and that he really would always love me for me, and not what I could do right or wrong. That I finally gave in and surrendered to the amazing grace and could accept David’s unconditional love for me, too.

I am still growing in this understanding, and I hope I always find myself on the discovery of how much I really am loved.

Bottom line; I cannot love David, if I cannot accept his love for me.

As David mentioned, real love really is contagious. It’s infectious. That’s why Hollywood can’t get over it, that’s why the top songs on the charts are still singing about it. Love is the single most powerful weapon we possess.

As the great theologians, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, once said: “All you need is love.”

And, it’s not a mystery anymore that perfect love casts out all fear. 1 John 4:18

David’s example of God’s perfect love invaded my dark and scary places of insecurity, doubt and disbelief. It knocked down my walls of self-glorification, and fear of rejection. David saved me from the self-destructive path I was walking of pride and shame when his kindness and goodness led me to a place where I could openly confess what was going on and not fear his punishment. Far from my understanding of marriage or any relationship, I found out that the more I told him, the more he loved me. There was no secret I wanted to hide anymore.

Knowing that I was completely accepted empowered me to accept myself. Which led to a chain reaction of me accepting him, my children, and the people around me in the same unconditional way.

As David and I continue to grow in our acceptance of love, our passion for repentance grows exponentially. We learned to confess the deeper issue stuff, not just surface level. And from confession we learned to forgive. Forgiveness comes from a place of understanding what it means to be forgiven. As we experienced each other’s forgiveness, it became almost impossible not to forgive others.

Forgiveness has been a cornerstone in our marriage. It has deepened our hope and joy for any situation that comes at us. When things go wrong, or don’t go the way we planned we can forgive the person who caused it. And in times when there is no one to blame, we can forgive the situation we are in and find peace to give thanks for the adversity.

“Give in” from the very beginning for me, was about giving into forgiveness. Loving David even when he didn’t deserve it, because I knew that I also had been forgiven. And I don’t mean loving him like, I will allow him to sleep in my presence. I mean loving him passionately, and intimately with complete vulnerability, even when he irritated me the most.

I remember one fight in particular, I was helping David pack for another big ski trip. Of course, it was another day of packing chaos. Home for one day, unpacking and repacking. He had misplaced an item, (his absolute worst nightmare) and logically blamed it on me because I was the one who has been home.

We were in the garage standing across from a mess of skis, bindings, wax, and baggage yelling at each other. And I will never forget the classic scene from “The Notebook” that ran through my head as I halfway listened to his latest accusation toward me. And, in a flash, all my anger and disappointment, and fear of rejection completely melted away. I had my answer of “justice” and it looked nothing like revenge. It was love. I walked over and kissed him right in the middle of his rant. And suddenly it was like a lightbulb went off and we remembered what was really important.

I’ve used this learning lesson much on my marriage and parenting since then.

If I am fighting with my significant other or my kids about something I feel entitled to have, then I care more about the thing than I care about them. Which we know is not true at the core, but it is the subliminal message we are sending one another when we fight about nothing like that. We are saying, I value my stuff more than I value you. But when I kissed David that day I was reminding him where his love, value, importance, worth and identity comes from.

I was reminding him of the love that he already had. He only needed to accept it.

So, my marriage advice is this, it’s simple and it has everything to do with you; and not them.

You are accepted. You are loved. You are worthy to be accepted and loved. So, celebrate the goodness of grace in your life. And with your new sense of joy, share your unconditional love with others. They can’t help but love you back.

My name is Alexandra, and I Give In.

David my beloved,
As we stand here today, I am overawed. Six years ago you only married a part of me. I was lost and broken.
Yet you chose me.
You chose me though I only had pieces to give. You were strong enough to be gentle and brave enough to be kind.
I am chosen and I am yours.
When I ran away you pursued me with an unrelenting love. You have never let me go.
When I denied you, you never left me.  You are for me not against me.
I am not alone.
You taught me what grace is. You saw past my worst mistakes and you spoke to my identity.
You enabled me to see myself the way God sees me. You stole every reason I had be afraid.
Your faithfulness and your perfect love has healed me.
I am whole.
I stand in awe of God’s everlasting love for us. He never stops doing us good.
He showered us with mercy when He brought us together.
I am humbled.
So today I renew my promise not only to you, but to God. This time with a new heart, and all of me.
I submit to the authority God has given you over me, I will follow you where ever you lead.
By the grace of God you are who you are. Worthy of my trust in all you do, you can not fail.
I am in awe of who I am because of you. You will always be more than enough for me.
I promise to be your helper in what ever God Gives you to do.
I promise to encourage you and support you in how God leads you.
I promise to love you children and raise them in the way of the Lord.
I promise to bless you in you grief and sufferings.
I promise to celebrate with you in your victories.
I promise to comfort you in your sickness.
I promise to strengthen your weaknesses with gentle truth
I promise to respect you even when you are wrong
I promise to let our marriage to point to something bigger than us.

How to Pack Like an Olympian

Wise Packing

I have been fortunate enough to travel for my living, more of my life than not.

Part of the professional athlete profession has a lot to do with packing and being proficient at it. When I was younger I use to despise packing for trips. It would really overwhelm me, so I would procrastinate until I was normally packing until about 1-2 a.m. and then getting up at 4 a.m. to get on my flight at 6 a.m. I told myself that sleeping on the plane would be fine, but after getting married and having kids that bachelor lifestyle had to die.

Luckily my wife’s need to be early and on time for everything has rubbed off on me slowly but surely. She has helped me see how nice it is to have my bags packed and ready before the sun goes down on the eve of traveling. And I will admit, it makes life a lot easier! I wish I would have done it sooner. So, my first traveling tip is just that – give yourself enough time to think about all the details. Make a check list, lay it all out, and pack before dinner on your traveling eve. You will thank yourself at 4 a.m. the next day.

David Wise - pack like an olympian

Not only do I travel often, and to far away places, I also travel for long periods of time. This has taught me how much I need to pack, and I will share this brilliant revelation with you. 😉 Whether you are packing for a week, a month, or a few months – you only need to pack for the first week. In other words, travel light! This is one of the best tips I can share with you. It really is possible.

If you’re traveling somewhere warm, you need even less than you think. And if you’re traveling somewhere cool or maybe mixed temperatures keep this in mind: layers. There are few places I can remember that did not have a washer to do a load of laundry after the week. If you have time, try to do another load of laundry before you pack to go back home. This way when you get back you can just put everything away. Or if you don’t have that luxury of time and, like me, are only home for a few days before leaving again, try this tip: Pack all your dirty clothes from your travel, come home and put it all in your laundry, then fold and repack the exact same items. This makes for a speedy turn around without getting stressed.

Here is my classic packing list for a Ski Trip:

1  Tank

2  T-Shirts

2  Long Sleeves

2  Base Layers

1  Over Jacket

2  workout shorts

2  pants

2  Beanies

2  Goggles

2  Helmets

2  gloves

Ski Jacket and Ski Pants


Bathing suit (Essential)

Toiletries (Don’t forget sunscreen- especially in the snow)

Extra Hair Ties, for these long locks of glory

David Wise - pack like an olympian

I almost forgot but didn’t, my Lucky Golden Ellen Boxers! She was thoughtful enough to replace my last lucky boxers that were ready to retire by the last Olympics, after I went on her show in 2014. I don’t really believe in the superstition stuff, but I have had lucky boxers for a long time. It is more of a special memory for me, or symbolic reminder of the goodness and grace in my life. Waking up on game day and getting dressed for the day, starting with a reminder of all the moments that have brought me to this place, reminds me to have a mindset of gratitude. It’s just a great way to start a big day.

This comes at no shock to anyone that we are living in the digital era. Which means there is a separate packing list dedicated specifically to that. One Item that is a must have for me is my e-reader. I am an avid reader. I read in between all my layovers, on the plane, during delays, and especially before bed. I cannot fall asleep without it! If you have a special item like this on your list, take this packing tip I have had to learn the hard way – make sure it makes it onto your leaving packing list! I have forgotten my e-reader under my hotel room pillows probably 5 times now in the last few years. Make sure you not only have a packing list to go traveling, but also a packing list to travel back home. Here is another helpful packing tip, make sure you charge all your batteries before you pack them. It is a hassle to do it when you get there.

Here is my essential packing list which starts with a great backpack with lots of pockets. I look for ones that have the easy laptop carrier, and a shoe hole for stuffing your jacket if you get too hot.

1  Backpack

Computer and Cords

Headphones, for the long airplane ride to Korea

Leather Wallet to hold my ID, Visa credit card, and some cash

U.S.A. Passport


Phone, Charger

Camera/ Tri-Pod/ Extra Batteries

Extra Memory cards in an organized compact


Packing Tip: Know your purpose of travel.

On this particular trip, I am packing for the Olympics, and some back-country skiing in Japan before my event. So my goal is to have everything I need to ski half pipe and powder. This is where my priorities lie and will be the most time consuming to do it properly. It is critical to remember the purpose for your travels and focus your attention on having everything you need for that. For the most part, in this day and age, you can always buy anything else you forget. My essential packing list for a ski trip starts with another awesome ski bag that will not rip and tear with all the heavy equipment you are carrying. And all of this:

Backcountry Skins

Backcountry Probe

Backcountry Beacon

Backcountry Shovel

2 pairs  Powder Skis

Touring Boots

2 Pairs of Pipe Skis with Bindings

Extra Pairs of skis, for “Justin” (Just in Case)

Super stiff Race Boots, Because I weigh 190 lbs

Extremely Short  Poles, because I tend to punch myself in the face landing switch.

And that is it! Zip it all up and load it in the car so you can join your family for dinner. Relax, watch a movie or play some games together for some much-needed quality time before you’re gone for a while. You should be able to get to bed at a great time and wake up bright and early feeling refreshed and ready to take on whatever travel frustrations come your way.

With good sleep the night before you’ll be able to be kind to the poor airport employee and airline attendants who are just trying to survive their day surviving you. 😉 So cut them some slack. Sit back, read your book, and enjoy the ride. This way, you can avoid being written about in my next #travelthoguhts on Twitter. 😛

Thanks for joining me on my Road to PyeongChang! I will see you in Korea.

My Road to PyeongChang

David Wise Monster Energy

Last week in Snowmass, Colorado, I reached the first finish line of a massive season by winning my second U.S. Olympic Team qualifying event. Having two wins under my belt ensures my spot on the U.S. Olympic Team for PyeongChang, South Korea this February. To say that the competition for spots on the Olympic Team was fierce would be an understatement. The U.S. Freeskiing Team for halfpipe right now is the strongest it has ever been. This is possibly the toughest battle for Olympic Team Spots in U.S. Ski Team history. The United States currently has at least 6 of the best halfpipe skiers in the world. The Olympic Winter Games is limited to four spots or less per country per event. That means that the two guys on the outside looking in, the fifth and sixth place Americans are skiers with enough skill to potentially win the Olympics, and they’ll be home watching from the couch. In many Olympic sports the members of the team are pretty apparent well in advance, but this weekend in Mammoth is the last event and I can honestly say that the remaining spots are still up in the air. Now you can understand my incredible sense of relief at having that spot locked up.

David Wise - my road to PyeongChang

As I said in the beginning, I feel like I’ve reached a major finish line. I’m not easing off the gas by any means. The Olympics is the long-term goal. However, the easing of pressure is palpable. I am stoked to be going back to the Olympic Games and feel honored to represent everyone who has believed in me along the way. There has been a lot more to this particular journey than most people realize.

I am coming off the worst two seasons of my competitive career. At least that is how it looks on paper. My last victory before this season in Copper was at the Winter Dew Tour in the winter of 2014/ 2015. A lot of things played into my lack of success in the past couple years: I had an injured shoulder and back, three separate concussions, my wife lost her father, my sister Christy was in a boating accident and lost her leg, I had a dear student of mine commit suicide. Not to mention my wife and I had our second child, Malachi, shortly after the Olympics in Sochi. Alexandra was actually pregnant and experiencing brutal morning sickness while she was watching me compete in Sochi, but we weren’t telling anybody yet so she really had to get through that process alone while I was doing the insane media tour. After Alexandra gave birth to Malachi, she went through a hard year of postpartum depression – something more common than most people realize. We had to find out that having two kids was far more challenging to handle with my new post-Olympic traveling schedule than we had expected. There were moments when we were not sure we were going to make it.



During the 2014 season leading up to the Olympics in Sochi, my wife and daughter traveled everywhere with me. It was a great way for me to feel like I was part of their life while still doing my job. But traveling with two kids is a lot harder than traveling with one. Plus, we went through an entire year where at least one kid at a time was sick. Neither my wife nor I were sleeping at night and then I would go out and try to ski the same as always as if nothing had changed. During one trip when I traveled without the family, Malachi had a fever spike and went into what we now know was a febrile seizure. At the time I was in Oslo, Norway and got a phone call from my wife who thought our son was dying, or dead. Let’s just say this was a lot to take on at once and my skiing performance suffered.

David Wise - my road to PyeongChang 

The people around me had some interesting reactions to my supposed “fall from glory;” a lot of them weren’t positive. Over the last two years I’ve experienced a lot of adversity, but one I was not expecting was the complete restructuring of my sponsors. I’m thankful to everyone that stood by me, especially my sponsors – Monster, Visa and Lululemon Men. Sponsors that I never expected to be petty and shortsighted, some of whom I have partnered with for more than 10 years decided it was time to cut me loose. One company even went to the length of making up bogus “contract violations” in order to have an excuse to terminate my contract instead of carrying it through the Olympics like the contract stated. I’ve been asked countless times if I was going to retire (not anytime soon, guys!). I’ve had people tell me that I had a good run and that they were surprised it lasted as long as it did. I’ve certainly had some people dancing on my contest career’s supposed grave and celebrating my downfall. Never the less, I’ve also experienced unconditional love and support from a select few that made all the weapons of my enemies turn to ash.

  David Wise - my road to PyeongChang

The problem is the haters forgot who I am. Or, perhaps, more accurately they never bothered to figure out who I was in the first place. I have to admit I am to blame too. I am not naturally a transparent person. I don’t tell people when I am struggling, and I don’t often share the burden. During the tough times these past years I didn’t reach out and let people know how hard of a time I was having outside of skiing. I just kept my head down and kept fighting. That is what the naysayers and critics fail to realize. I am a fighter, and fighters do their best work in adverse conditions. Nothing has been better for my long-term ski career than having two years of struggles. I have learned to be thankful for my multiple injuries that left my career in question to the world. I am thankful for my sister’s loss that enabled her to live with a purpose that is bigger than herself. I am thankful for the death that brought so much life and healing to my wife. She has become a true proverbs 31 woman through her own trials, I couldn’t be prouder of who she is now because of it, and where it has brought our marriage and family. I am thankful for my two most prized possessions that I can never take credit for: my honor and glory, Nayeli and Malachi, who have made me the man I am today. I am thankful for the buildup of all the tragedy that prepared me for what was to come – and taught me how to consider all things as an opportunity for great joy.

So today, I am able to write this with complete peace in my spirit, I am thankful for the sponsors that dropped me and the shortsighted people that counted me out. You guys are responsible in a major way for reigniting the furnace in my heart and I have never felt as passionate and excited about skiing and competing as I do right now. Those dropped sponsorships have opened the door to some of the best partnerships of my career, and taught me how to cherish what I have instead of focusing on what I don’t. I’m back in full-force and I’ve never been more grateful for the things that I have, instead of being caught in a vicious cycle of always wanting more. I appreciate the opportunity to represent my country, my hometown and MY people in the Olympics this year more than I knew I was capable of. I also know that all of this is temporary, and that is ok. Everything that I have is a gift from God, and He can take it away when He wants to. I am surrounded by people who truly love and support me for who I am, not what I do on a pair of skis and not for any level of success I could attain.

  David Wise - my road to PyeongChang

These past two years have done a great job of showing me the truly loyal people and I will cherish them. I’m also dedicated to not hating the fickle people, but instead finding hope in forgiveness and my renewed passion for repentance. I have been guilty of plenty of shortsightedness in my life, so I can forgive the ski industry for being shortsighted with me. After all, Jesus forgave the same men that nailed him to a cross, and his example is the one I most desire to follow. There are two ways to react to adversity in life. One way is to feel slighted and to allow yourself to be bitter. The other is to use the adversity to your advantage and gain strength and momentum from it. I choose the latter. Join me on my journey to PyeongChang and, as always, thank you for the support!