Danny Davis made the most of his first Winter X Games halfpipe final appearance, winning the biggest pre-Olympic competition in Aspen, Colo., on Sunday night.
“I can’t believe it,” Davis said on ESPN. “I’m gonna ride this switch method train as long as it’ll last.”
Davis, one of four U.S. halfpipe snowboarders going to Sochi, prevailed with a second-run score of 95 points. He also likes to recreate “Dumb and Dumber” scenes.
Louie Vito, who did not qualify for the Olympics, came in second with 93 points. Greg Bretz, who is going to Sochi, was third with 89.33.
The top qualifier into the final, Swiss Iouri Podladtchikov, failed to cleanly land his patented 1440 YOLO Flip in all three runs and finished sixth.
Shaun White, who won every halfpipe title from 2008 to 2013, skipped X Games for the first time this millennium.
“It’s bittersweet when Shaun’s not here,” Davis said. “He’s the one to beat, but forget it. I’ll take it.”
Podladtchikov, colloquially known as I-Pod, and Japan’s Ayumu Hirano, who is 15, are considered the top challengers to White’s bid for an Olympic halfpipe threepeat Feb. 11. Hirano did not compete at X Games one year after coming in second to White.
On Jan. 6, 2010, Davis beat White en route to what looked like his first Olympic berth. But in the early morning hours of Jan. 17, he drunkenly rode an ATV with friends into a metal fence, breaking his third lumbar vertebrae and shattering his pelvis.
Davis has said he valued a Winter X Games gold over Olympic gold. As for Sochi now?
“I think you can tell that the Americans are looking pretty darn good,” Davis said.