U.S. skier David Wise won Olympic gold medal Thursday in the freestyle skiing halfpipe event using ski poles made by the Baltimore-based company Zipline Ski.
When U.S. freestyle skier David Wise dropped into the halfpipe in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and threw up a series of “double cork” flips in four directions, he was using graphite composite ski poles made by Baltimore-based Zipline Ski.
After wiping out on his first two runs, Wise, the defending gold medalist from Sochi in 2014, nailed his final run and won the gold.
“What was so amazing, the tricks that he did were never done before in competition in that order or the degree of difficulty of his jumps,” said Chuck Heidenreich, president of the four-year-old Zipline and a former U.S. Ski Team freestyle athlete. “When you go up, you spin to the left or spin to the right. He spun in both directions. The degree of difficulty was so high. That’s what made him hard to touch.”
Zipline’s ski poles, goggles and other gear have been used during the Pyeongchang games by skiers from the U.S., Norway, Finland and Germany. But Wise was the only Zipline athlete favored to win a gold medal.
Heidenreich, who had traveled to South Korea for the start of the games, watched the halfpipe event from his home in Overlea, sharing the moment through Facebook with his three daughters and son, all watching from their homes or the colleges they attend.
“My heart was jumping,” Heidenreich said. “To be able to say that our product is being used by an Olympic gold medalist can really help boost our brand image and expand us into other categories of skiing.”
Alex Ferreira of the United States won silver in the halfpipe, and Nico Porteous, a 16-year-old from New Zealand, won bronze.
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Heidenreich met Wise after the skier started to follow the Baltimore brand on Instagram last fall. Heidenreich followed up, and Wise ended up trying the brand’s Blurr poles.
Wise has said he likes Zipline poles because they are both light and strong. After switching to Zipline and before the Olympics, he had won three times, including his fourth X Games title. He won two of the three World Cup competitions this season leading up to the Olympics.
“When you are spinning high in the air in the halfpipe, having light poles is crucial to perform the maneuvers and achieve the best scores,” Wise said in an email before the start of the Olympics.
Baltimore-based Zipline Ski, a company started after the last Winter Olympics in 2014, expect its ski poles and other products to give Olympic freestyle skiers an edge during the Winter Games in South Korea.
Heidenreich, who is originally from Massachusetts, competed as a mogul skier for three years. He moved to Baltimore in 1999, when he left a 10-year job as a product manager at Spalding Sporting Goods to attend Maryland Bible College and Seminary. His company designs its own brand of ski poles, goggles, gloves, mogul pants and other apparel. It also sells Shaman skis, a Finnish brand designed for freestyle mogul skiing.
Though elite freestyle skiers use the brand’s poles, the company designs products for skiers of all levels, Heidenreich said.