Lake Tahoe loses another Olympic hopeful
SALT LAKE CITY – Snowboarder Danny Davis won’t have a chance to dedicate his Olympics to a fallen friend after a season-ending back injury suffered when he crashed his four-wheeler into a closed gate outside a house in Utah.
Davis is the second Lake Tahoe competitor in the past week to suffer a season-ending injury that also ended hopes to compete in the Winter Games. South Lake Tahoe freestyle skier Sho Kashima tore an ACL in training last Tuesday.
Davis, who is good friends with injured halfpipe rider Kevin Pearce, was scheduled to undergo surgery Monday to repair a vertebrae in his lower back. A message on his Facebook site said Davis would not be competing in remaining snowboard events in 2010.
The Summit County sheriff’s department in Park City, Utah, released a statement that said Davis was leaving a housing development at around 3:30 a.m. Sunday, after celebrating his victory in a Dew Tour halfpipe event, and was knocked unconscious when he crashed his four-wheeler into a closed metal gate on a private driveway.
The sheriff’s department said it did not anticipate filing charges against the 21-year-old snowboarder, who has a total of four Dew Tour and Grand Prix halfpipe victories over the last two years.
Davis was dedicating his season to Pearce, who suffered a severe brain injury during training last month. About a week after that injury, Davis won a Grand Prix halfpipe event in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., that all but assured him a spot in the Olympics.
He won by landing three double-cork jumps – double back flips with a series of different twists – in the same run. Almost instantly, the performance was touted as one of the best halfpipe runs in the history of the sport, and he dedicated the run to Pearce.
“I had Kev on my mind and right before every run I was making sure I had him in spirit,” Davis said that day. “I know we’re sending vibes back to each other, and it was good.”
Davis won a Winter Dew Tour halfpipe event Saturday at Snowbasin and, according to the sheriff’s department, left the residence he was visiting and was knocked unconscious shortly afterward near the gate. Friends found him there and took him to the hospital.
Davis’ Facebook message said doctors were optimistic he would make a full recovery.
Pearce, meanwhile, remains in serious condition in a Salt Lake City hospital.
The injuries to two of America’s top halfpipe riders puts added importance on the final two Olympic qualifying events, set for Friday and Saturday in Park City.
Defending Olympic champion Shaun White already has two victories and has solidified his spot on the team. Louie Vito, who has a pair of second-place finishes, also looks like a good bet to make the team. Jarret Thomas, the 2002 Olympic bronze medalist, and Zach Black each have a pair of top-5 finishes this year.