Danny Davis

Danny Davis suffers scary halfpipe crash in Olympic qualifier (video)

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Needing to impress an Olympic selection committee, Danny Davis suffered one of the most brutal-looking crashes in a halfpipe snowboarding contest.

The Sochi Olympian and two-time X Games champion crumpled on the lip of the pipe in his second of three runs in Mammoth Mountain, Calif., on Saturday night.

He walked out of the pipe but did not take a third run.

It came in the fourth and final Olympic selection event, three weeks before the PyeongChang Winter Games.

Shaun WhiteBen Ferguson and Jake Pates had already clinched the first three Olympic spots last week.

Davis, Chase Josey and Gabe Ferguson were competing Saturday to boost their resumes for the one available discretionary Olympic selection to be made early next week.

Davis came to Mammoth as the clubhouse leader.

But Josey likely nailed down the spot by winning Saturday’s contest.

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VIDEO: Shaun White scores perfect 100 to qualify for Olympics

Danny Davis knows creativity won’t be enough in Olympic year

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Danny Davis and good friend and former halfpipe rider Kevin Pearce discussed Davis’ experience at the Sochi Olympics. They came to the same conclusion.

“We’ve always kind of felt similar on that topic, the Olympics, and how they’re sort of the end-all, be-all for a lot of people,” Davis said in a phone interview last week. “I think, for Kevin and myself, we’re snowboarders. That’s not the end-all, be-all. A good career doesn’t necessarily mean going to the Olympics. There’s a lot of other titles you can have.”

That said, Davis believes qualifying for the PyeongChang Winter Games is just as big, if not bigger than it was for Sochi three years ago. Which is saying a lot in his case.

Davis, a scraggly-haired snowboarding throwback who values style and creativity over counting flips and spins, finished a surprisingly low 10th in his Olympic halfpipe debut in 2014. He had won Winter X Games for the first time the previous month.

Davis was described then as ambivalent about the Games, an attitude shared by some top riders 20 years ago, when the sport was first added to the Olympic program and some skipped it.

But make no mistake, Davis was determined to be on an Olympic team.

He was in strong position to make the 2006 Olympic squad as a 17-year-old before struggling in the last two qualifiers. In 2010, he beat Shaun White in a qualifier, inspired by Pearce, who a week earlier suffered a traumatic brain injury in a training crash.

But before the Vancouver Olympics, Davis fractured his vertebra and was knocked unconscious when he drunkenly crashed an ATV into a fence. He missed out as White repeated gold. Then in August 2012, Davis broke a femur crashing into a pole on a slopestyle course.

In 2014, Davis completed his comeback by finishing first and second in the last two Olympic qualifiers and then winning the Winter X Games for the first time in his sixth try.

Sochi didn’t turn out how Davis hoped. He was one of many riders to criticize the halfpipe condition, and then wasn’t able to land a clean run in the final.

At 25 years old — veteran status in his sport — Davis could have waved goodbye to the Olympics for good after Sochi.

But he’s not thinking that way at all with 11 months to go until PyeongChang. Instead, he’s motivated by what happened in 2014. To do it all better in 2018.

“Last time around I worried so much about the end goal, which was just the Olympics, that I think I missed out on a lot of fun in my season,” Davis said. “I was pretty stressed when I didn’t do well.

“This year I kind of did a little less contests because I know next year is going to be so hectic. I think this time around I’m more focused on doing well in all of the events, not so much making the team and going to the Olympics. More so being a strong, consistent rider.”

Davis had a painful start to this past season, axing through two tendons in his right hand while chopping firewood in November. He needed surgery and wore a large cast at the X Games in January, where he placed fifth.

Davis snuck into the 10-rider final at the Burton U.S. Open this past weekend and finished sixth, landing one clean run out of three on Saturday. He said the hand limitations are gone, but he still must wear a wrist guard.

The difference between this year and 2014 and 2015 — when Davis won back-to-back X Games titles — is the level of competition. Though Davis was off the U.S. Open podium, he still earned a special award for throwing the best throwback trick of the event — a frontside alley oop Indy.

That contradiction sums up where Davis is right now. His style and creativity remain in a class of their own, but he doesn’t have the flipping-and-spinning firepower to beat White or Australian Scotty James at their best.

“Scotty James and Shaun, they’ve both got back [-to-back] double [1260s] in their run that are pretty standard,” Davis said. “Back double 12s was something Shaun was fishing for back in 2014. He could do it, but he didn’t have it every time. Now, he has it every time, and Scotty’s got it every time. A lot of these guys have a lot of doubles every time.

“I can be creative with my riding, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to do some doubles. You’ve got to spin, and that’s the way it is.”

The Olympic team will likely be made up of four riders again. White has been the top American this season, followed by potential Olympic rookie Chase Josey.

Davis is in a group of other riders also in contention, including 2014 Olympic teammates Greg Bretz and Taylor Gold.

Olympic qualifying, which consists of a series of contests, takes place next season.

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Matt Ladley wins X Games snowboard halfpipe shortened due to snow

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Heavy snow forced the X Games’ marquee event, men’s snowboard halfpipe, to end after one of a scheduled three runs in Aspen, Colo., on Saturday night.

The shortened competition led to a surprising podium — winner Matt Ladley, followed by Ben Ferguson and Australian Olympian Scotty James — all first-time X Games medalists. Full results are here.

Ladley, who failed to make the four-rider 2014 U.S. Olympic team, scored 82.33 points, competing in a Peyton Manning Denver Broncos jersey.

“Getting ready for two [more] runs and, oh, by the way, we’re done,” Ladley told ESPN. “Maybe not the way I saw it happening, but weather comes in, and it’s one of those things you can’t control.”

Pre-event favorites Danny Davis (two-time defending champion), Ayumu Hirano (Olympic silver medalist) and Iouri Podladtchikov (Olympic champion) were ninth, 10th and 12th in the 12-rider field.

The competition lacked eight-time X Games halfpipe champ Shaun White, who missed the event for the second time in three years but is slated to compete in X Games Oslo next month.

Earlier, Canadian Olympic bronze medalist Mark McMorris won snowboard slopestyle for the fourth time in five years, landing back-to-back triple cork 1440s for a 92.66 (video below). Full results are here.

U.S. Olympic champion Sage Kotsenburg was 10th after placing fifth last year and 15th in 2014, one month before his Olympic stunner. Kotsenburg has made the X Games slopestyle podium once in seven tries.

The X Games conclude Sunday, highlighted by the women’s halfpipe with three-time Olympic medalist Kelly Clark and defending champion Chloe Kim.

MORE: Estonian becomes youngest Winter X Games champion