Pro snowboarder Danny Davis talks the Olympics, Peace Park and more

Professional snowboarder Danny Davis is a rare combination of soul and talent.

He runs the Frendly Gathering in Vermont, and he also created the Peace Park project that veers away from the norms of snowboarding contests.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Davis finished 10th in snowboarding halfpipe, and now with qualification season underway, Davis, 29, is one of the elder statesman in-line for representing Team USA in snowboarding.

We recently caught up with Davis to talk about the Olympics, surfing and skateboarding getting added to the mix, and plans for Peace Park this winter.

Danny Davis in Brooklyn for our chat. Photo: Ryan Brower

What’s been the best part about the Olympic experience?

Meeting all the other athletes is such a rad thing. It’s just a sports mecca where everyone is at the top of their field and that’s a really cool thing to be a part of.

The other thing that’s fun from the snowboarding side, snowboarding is such an individual sport. But when you go to the Olympics you truly feel like you’re on a team. You’re traveling with everybody, you’re practicing together, you’re rooming together, you’re at the U.S. house. You truly feel like you’re on a team, which is rare to snowboarding.

That’s one thing I tell any of the younger riders who ask me about the last time at the Olympics, hang out for two weeks if you’re into it. Do your event and hang out and go to the hockey games, you’re on the team, you’re rooting for USA. Be a part of it.

How about the worst part?

What bums me out about the Olympics in general is building an entire city. Look at Sochi, where all the snowboarding and skiing went down, the word is that no one ever goes there now. There’s massive Marriott buildings and they kicked people out of their homes to build these places.

The same can be said about Rio. That is really something that does not make me happy about the Olympics. The “stuff” and building it all. The Olympics are about the world coming together for sport, and I just get worried that sometimes that’s not what it’s about.

Danny Davis at Dew Tour 2016. Photo: Courtesy of Justin Edmonds/Mountain Dew

The halfpipe wasn’t quite up to snuff in Sochi. Are there concerns about conditions again this year?

When you had the test event last time around in Sochi, it was a poor event. The test event went really bad, they didn’t even really have a competition because the pipe wasn’t to standard and it was falling apart due to temperatures. And of course we go to the real event and it was sort of the same thing.

This time around, last year’s test event went really well — I wasn’t there but everybody said they loved the halfpipe. There wasn’t a ton of snow, you can see dirt on the side, so that’s a concern. But at least the guy cutting the pipe seems to be good at building halfpipes. I don’t know what the venue is actually like or the area, but I think we’ll definitely have a better halfpipe. Hopefully the slopestyle course is up to par, because it was pretty good in Sochi.

Have you ever been to Korea?

I have, a number of times. Great culture, great country. The first World Cup I ever did, I was probably 16 years old, and we went to a place called Sung Woo. It was a cruise ship that had everything: bowling alleys, a KFC, you name it. The food is pretty crazy in Korea, but Korean barbecue is all-time.

Danny Davis at Peace Park. Photo: Courtesy of Adam Moran/Mountain Dew

Any advice to surfers and skaters now that they’re going to be part of the Olympics?

My main advice would be to use the Olympics for what it’s good for. Don’t let it be the pivotal thing in skateboarding or surfing. For it to be the “be-all end-all” is the end-all of that sport. You look at swimming or figure skating or curling, a lot of these other Olympic sports that I watch once every four years when it’s on television for the Olympics, you don’t want your sport to be that sport. You want people to be into it every year like football, baseball, golf, you want money flowing into that sport. Use it for what it’s good for: getting more people into skateboarding and surfing and growing the sports so we can keep making a living doing what we love.

Any plans for a Peace Park this year?

Definitely. I don’t know how exactly we’re going to do it, we’re trying to change it up a little every year. This year we had a qualifier, so we did a qualifier in Okemo where a kid won a spot to come. When I was young, we had USSA and some TRANSWORLD rail jams as a way for us to get into the next tier. You had the U.S. Open’s that were a lottery system. What was cool was we just opened it up, we had about 50-60 kids and I judged with a group of my friends, and the kids killed it. It was really hard to pick a winner, there was a group of like five kids Zack Normandy, Zeb Powell, Drew Brownrigg and Luke Winkleman (who won), those kids all could’ve came to Peace Park. They all were very very good.

What do you envision for the future of Peace Park?

I would love to keep doing it, and doing an amateur-level event that gets somebody a golden ticket to come hang. It was really fun to do that. I’d love to do more of them and do more Peace Parks. I’d love to start a tour. Do it in the spring and summer where we can invite people and they’d come. The toughest part is our season is so packed. Doing one in May, doing one maybe in Mount Hood and then doing one maybe in the Southern Hemisphere, like Australia or New Zealand would be the dream. There’s more in store for Peace Park.

We’ve kind of figured out a decent way to have a contest. It’s a very challenging course to have a proper contest, you can’t really do a two-run format or something. This past year we just rode for five days and there was a winner. I think we could break it down a little more. I think Peace Park is in this space where I’d love to do more with it, I’d love to make it a tour, I just need to figure out a format we can really have some fun and allow the best rider to be the guy who wins.

Danny Davis, always all smiles. Photo: Courtesy of Justin Edmonds/Mountain Dew

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