The road to Sochi | Q-and-A with Olympian Danny Davis
With health on his side, few snowboarders in the world can match Danny Davis’ combination of style and skill in the halfpipe.
The Truckee resident was ready to contend for gold four years ago before a freak injury derailed his Olympic hopes. Now, he’s on track once again, healthy and poised, and gunning to take down the two-time defending Olympic champion — U.S. teammate Shaun White, among others.
He knows it won’t be easy. But with a refreshing mix of old-school style and new-school savvy, his competition knows he is not to be overlooked.
Check out what Davis had to say.
Q: Congratulations on qualifying for the Sochi Olympics. How did you celebrate your nomination?
A: “Thank you. Well, I had to fly to X Games the next day, so we went to Reno and did some 24-hour bowling, lost some money in black jack, and had a blast.”
Q: You moved to Truckee from Milford, Mich., which is not known as a hotbed for skiing and snowboarding. How, and where, did you tune your skills to what they are today?
A: “Michigan is certainly not a snowboard mecca by any means, but it served as a place where I could ride from 9 in the morning until 10 at night, so I got so much riding in. I grew up riding at a great resort called Alpine Valley. There are a lot of characters there and it was 10 minutes from my house, so I got to ride a lot.”
Q: Where do you normally ride locally (in the Truckee area)?
A: “It depends on the day, and I’m not home much, so I tend to miss a lot of the good days. If it’s snowing, I’m probably at Squaw or Alpine. But if there is a chance the crowds and lines will be crazy, I’m probably at Sugar Bowl. If it’s springtime park riding, I’ll probably take some runs at Northstar.”
Q: You qualified for the Olympics among a deep and talented field of American hopefuls. What was your strategy entering the qualifying series?
A: “Strategy, I don’t know. No strategy really. I have been hurt for the last few years on and off, so this season was about getting back to being one of the best pipe riders in the industry. Olympics or not, I just wanted people to be excited to see me shred again and I just wanted to be good again — one of the best. My strategy I guess was just to snowboard as much as possible. I snowboarded all summer, and fall.”
Q: Not surprisingly, Shaun White has been a machine in the halfpipe this season. What are the chances of you — or anybody, for that matter — defeating him in Sochi?
A: “There are some chances, but that kid is darn good. Greg Bretz beat him in the beginning of the season, and there are a lot of good halfpipe riders right now. So I think that there are a couple circumstances that he could be beaten. It will be tough though.”
Q: Are their any dark horses in snowboard halfpipe, from any country, who you think might surprise people in Sochi?
A: “Arthur Longo. He is from France or Italy, I believe. He is an amazing snowboarder. The Japanese will have a strong crew. But everybody who has a good chance is a pretty well-known rider. Our U.S. team is pretty great.”
Q: Did you have a favorite snowboarder growing up or feel like you developed your style from any rider in particular?
A: “Dan Kass, Keir Dillon, Kyle Clancy, Lane Knaack. There were a lot of guys I respected, but they were my main influence for style. I pulled little bits and pieces from everyone’s style and formed my own. The more I got into it, the more I got stoked on old-school riding too. Noah Salasnek, Terry Kidwell, Keith Wallace. The old-school style and tricks were just so passionate and so much style put into every grab. Love that stuff.”
Q: Are you a snowboarder who listens to music while competing? If so, what’s your musical preference?
A: “Of course. Got to have music when I ride. It’s a must. Especially at contests when things are hectic and there are announcers and stuff, it just really helps to shut everything out of your mind and just focus and jam out and have some fun snowboarding. I listen to a lot of old stuff — Neil Young, Bob Seger, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, the Doors, etc. But I also listen to bluegrass and some newer stuff — the Devil Makes Three, the Growlers, Shovels and Rope, Twiddle, Deer Tick. I like all kinds of music.”
Q: With all the progressive spinning and flipping tricks going on in the halfpipe, where do you think the discipline will progress from here?
A: “It will probably keep going down that road of flipping and spinning. I think kids just think, spin more, flip more, and that’s progression. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but it’s just a certain kind of progression, it’s getting very acrobatic in a sense. A lot of these flipping and spinning moves all look the same. It’s hard to really have style doing them because there just isn’t as much tweak and finesse in the tricks. It’s just a lot of flipping and spinning and not so much beauty in the tricks. But there is this whole other progression of snowboarding that I have been exploring, and it’s riding switch. It’s been so fun and has really put a lot of love back into halfpipe riding for me.”
Q: Aside from competing, is there anything you’d like to do while in Russia?
A: “I want to watch an Olympic hockey game. I love watching hockey.”
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