Truckee’s Davis sets the snowboard world on fire
MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. – Beating Shaun White in the halfpipe takes something special, maybe even otherworldly.
Truckee’s Danny Davis delivered the unthinkable on Wednesday.
Davis unveiled an unprecedented three double corks during his near-perfect second run to upstage White in the first of two U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix contests this week at Mammoth Mountain.
The 21-year-old Davis raised the bar in the Olympic year progression of the sport with his first-place score of 49.2. White, who trailed Davis by only a point after the first run, finished a distant second at 46.20.
“It’s actually the highest score we’ve ever seen, but it was the best snowboarding run we’ve ever seen obviously in regards to the nature of the tricks during the run,” said U.S. Snowboarding Team coach Mike Jankowski.
Davis took more satisfaction in beating White than he did in setting a new standard in the sport.
“I don’t feel so much like I made history, but I had a good day. Once I learn the tricks, it’s always been my plan to land them in a contest, but it just hasn’t happened,” said Davis, who fell on his two runs at previous Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colo. “For some reason every year at these halfpipe contests, it’s like ‘Who is going to beat Shaun White?’
“I feel the best about this one because I wasn’t so sure that my first run beat his, then I landed my second one and felt pretty good that I beat his run. It’s nice for myself to feel like I beat him.”
Davis’ spectacular run sent the spectators at the bottom of Mammoth’s superpipe into a frenzy.
“It’s was a nice gesture from the crowd and to feel their excitement because I was excited naturally,” said Davis, who is originally from Highland, Mich.
One of the top women’s riders in the world was definitely impressed.
“I was so in shock. Everyone at the top freaked out. Something like that we’ve never seen,” said Hannah Teter, who finished second in the women’s halfpipe.
Before his final run, Davis conferred with his U.S. coaches about adding more difficulty to his final pass down the pipe.
“We were like, ‘What should I do? Should I try the third double?’ And they were like, ‘Go for it.’ They said, ‘Do it if you are gonna do it.’ I just grabbed and hung on and luckily I caught some tranny because I usually land so flat on that trick.”
On the podium, Davis paid tribute to comatose snowboarder Kevin Pearce, who was seriously injured in training last week in Park City, Utah. Davis toted a cardboard sign on a stick containing a peace symbol that read “Pearce Be With You.”
Scott Lago of Seabrook, N.H., grabbed the final spot on the podium with a third-place score of 45.0. Louie Vito of Sandy, Utah, posted an identical score but lost a point tiebreaker and finished fourth.
South Shore’s Elijah Teter nearly jumped on the podium, finishing fifth at 44.90. Teter punctuated his first run of 42.50 with a backside 900 and then raised his score on a second run that concluded with an unfamiliar trick. Event announcers finally coined it a switch Tetertotter.
Mammoth’s Greg Bretz placed sixth, making up for a fall on his first run to score 44.5 on his final attempt. Truckee’s Andy Finch took 11th in the 16-competitor field at 39.3.
The quartet that the U.S. sent to the last Winter Games in Torino, Italy, dominated the women’s field on Wednesday. Kelly Clark wrapped up an Olympic spot by winning her second Grand Prix in as many events.
“I’m still in awe of my run today,” she said.
The 2002 Olympic champion didn’t even hold back on her final run, even though she was guaranteed first place. As a result, she raised her winning score from 47.0 to 48.4. Clark was uncertain, but the high score may have been a career best.
“Everything for me right now is practice and take advantage of every contest regardless of what place I’m in to kind of push my riding,” Clark said. “The more difficult runs that I can do in a contest setting the easier it’s going to be for me down the road.:
Hannah Teter of Meyers rebounded nicely after missing the first Grand Prix due to injury. The 2006 Olympic winner aggressively attacked the pipe on both runs and finished with a runner-up score of 45.2.
“I have a lot more to offer than I had today, and we’ll see how the next one goes in a couple days,” Teter said.
Australia’s Molly Crawford was third at 44.4, 2006 Olympic silver medalist Gretchen Bleiler came in fourth at 42.5 and ’06 Olympian Elena Hight was fifth at 42.40.
Hight, who was raised on the South Shore, put together two smooth runs.
“Elena has been working really hard and is so committed to the sport,” Jankowski said. “It’s a definite confidence booster for her.”
The riders will return to Mammoth for a second halfpipe on Friday and Saturday. Qualifying begins at 9:30 a.m. Friday and finals are set for noon Saturday.