Danny Davis: The Route One Interview

Posted by Route One on 27th February 2018

Danny Davis, a true snowboarding legend and he’s not even reached 30 yet!

It feels like Danny has been killing it on his snowboard forever, maybe that’s because he’s accomplished so much in freestyle snowboarding. He’s influenced so many things; the way we ride halfpipe in competitions, the way we think about building snowparks, as well as finding new ways of exploring and shredding the whole mountain.

We were stoked to finally get the opportunity to ask Danny some questions. A man who’s stomped his mark on our industry, we wanted to know what it takes for him to shred professionally for half of his life, how to keep the focus on style over corks and his honest take on the Olympics.


Hi Danny, first of all we have to ask, how old are you now? It feels like you’ve been around forever and you don’t seem to be aging or at least slowing down? What’s your secret?!

Ha! Well, I am 29 years old. There is always more to learn, more to explore, and more to expand on. Whether its contests, big mountain riding, snow pack knowledge, snowmobiling, back country kickers, there is always more to learn. I think the secret, if there is one, is to snowboard as much as possible. Keep the love of boarding strong, and keep immersed in the culture. Watch the videos, get stoked on video parts, have a favourite rider, and be passionate about our sport. AND stretching. You gotta stretch and keep the body efficient.

Do you feel like you’ve been around, at the top of your game, for a long time? 

I did my first Vans triple crown back in December of 2003, and that was the first professional event I competed in. I feel like I have been very fortunate for the opportunities given to me and also been very lucky to have been taught how to ride and how to run my career by some of the best in the business. I mean I am definitely aging, but trying not to slow down. 

With the injuries that have come over the years how do you prepare to try and avoid them and to stay fit?

I wish I could tell you I have an amazing fitness level, and that I spend a lot of time in the gym to stay fit. But I just snowboard a lot. Hike a lot. Split board as much as possible in the spring. Skateboard. Surf on vacations, and spend time out in the mountains, camping and enjoying what’s left of nature in all the different spots we have in the USA. When I get injured, I definitely spend a lot of time in the gym getting back to 100%. But once I'm back to 100, or close to it, I try to stay dedicated to my sport. And again, stretching. Keeping the muscles at length and in the position where they are most efficient.

You’ve been killing it in the pipe for years and you’re still a huge competitor for titles, yet you don’t come across as the competitive type. That’s pretty unique. How have you managed that?

I have always been a competitive kid. I played every sport growing up. Football, baseball, basketball, golf, etc. But what keeps those sports fun and enjoyable is the friends I made through them. The same thing followed with snowboarding when I got into it competitively. The reason I continued to stay in it, and enjoyed myself so much was the friends I was making. I was cheering for them, they were cheering for me, and that seemed like the best way to compete. Have lots of friends, be stoked for them, and in turn they are excited to see you ride well.  

I think it’s fair to say when the pipe and even the slope comps became more flips and hucks to win, you held on to the power of style and opened the eyes of many a judge I’m sure. Starting your pipe runs with a massive switch method, was that specifically aimed to slap the judges in the face and say ‘This is snowboarding’, not triples, or was it purely because you just loved to do switch methods?

Well, it wasn’t exactly to slap anyone in the face, it was purely what I could do to be different and continue having fun. Learning the doubles and big spins was and is becoming less and less fun. And that shit is downright scary. I wanted to enjoy doing my runs, and be excited to do them. Not be scared or bored. So I just decided to do what no one at that time was doing, and that was switch tricks as big as I could. The more I did it, the more it stoked people out and luckily the judges responded in a good way. BUT, I feel I did get lucky on timing as I’m not the first one. Ross Powers used to do Switch McTwists, Switch Back 3's and also Elijah Teter had some switch stuff as well. I think it worked in my favour at the time because there was SO much big spins and flips, and people were happy to see something that was slow and mellow. But still a very challenging thing to do.

Either way, it made an impact in competitive snowboarding that snowboarding needed. So we thank you for that!

For your latest boards you got skateboard legend Mark Gonzales to whip up the graphics and you got to hang out with Gonz as well! How was that? What does it mean to you having him work on your board line?

You know, that was very lucky, and something I thought would never come about. Greg D, a creative head at Burton is friends with Gonz and I threw the idea to him and he reached out to Mark. I always loved the Michi Albin pro model back in the day, but I was so little, it was too big for me to ride. So it really was something special to be able to ride a Mark Gonzales designed snowboard the past year, and then to meet him and spend a full day was just incredible. He is a really fun human, an amazing skateboarder, and has a mind that works at a different pace than the rest of us. A true creative and funny as hell!

What’s the thought behind the Burton Free and Deep Thinker boards? How did they come about, what do you like about them and where do you like to shred them on the mountain?

The idea was to create a little mini quiver. Two boards that are similar but also can do very different shit when put to good use. The free thinker is good all over. Pipe, rails, jumps, carving. Where the Free thinker in my eyes really excels in the deeper snow and has some taper for high speeds and amazing turns. the deep thinker has better float, but can be ridden all anywhere as well. I rode it in the pipe a lot last year, but I think the free thinker could ultimately be a better pipe board. 

The Thinkers….Do you like to get deep in thought?

Ummmmm, definitely. Love a good conversation, and maybe even an intelligent one, or just talk some shit. But I think what the name for the boards was aimed to do, was express two boards that are very similar but can create on the mountain very different riding.

Do you feel the days of symmetrical twin park boards are in the past?

Not at all. Free thinker is twin, and to me looks like a classic park board. But, it is definitely fun to have a surfy directional looking shape that rides well backwards. Just because its surfy don’t mean it don’t go backwards anymore.

Let’s move on to Peace Park…which started out as Peace Pipe many years ago. What is the underlying factor that makes Peace park what it is today?

What are your plans for its future? Will it continue, will it grow or change that much? Or is it just important to have a creative park setup that you and the riders control but doesn’t have a line of judges and score panels? 

What started as Peace Pipe, has become peace park. Peace pipe happened because I was tired of the typical pipe shoot, riding the same halfpipe that we just rode in contests all year long. Taking an approach that a skate bowl is perhaps more fun to skate than a straight up vert ramp or halfpipe. Once we did that with the halfpipe, then we were like "why keep this to just a halfpipe?" Then we made peace park which was sort of along the lines of merging superpark and holy bowly. We added hips, jumps, transition, and eventually a 22 foot bowl to the equation. It was a full on experiment that continued to work out. Many features didn't work, and we were learning as we went. When something failed, we didn't decide to do it again the next year, and tried something else. Peace Park will definitely continue. I have dreams of it being its own tour, like 3 or 4 peace parks around the world, and having a champion. Inviting riders from all disciplines. From slopestyle and halfpipe, to back country and big mountain riders. Style and line choice being a big part of the creativity and judging criteria. I want to get the public in these parks as well. Creating this for the 1% of snowboarders is something that I can’t continue to do. I want to create more peace parks all over the world so we can get people stoked on riding terrain parks and truly having every terrain park be different.

Ok, the Olympics…this February, are you going?

Knew you would at least ask one question about this. Not sure if I’m going yet, we are in the qualification process right now. I definitely am just focused on being a good halfpipe rider, not necessarily an Olympian.

What’s your thoughts on the Olympics these days? Especially with the introduction of the big air, as well as slopestyle moving into its second semester. Have you seen the slopestyle course? For that matter have you seen the boarder cross course? It’s like real life SSX.

Olympics, to me, is a contest in our industry that gets blown out of proportion and honestly is not the pinnacle of our sport. Things like Dew tour, X games, and US open I believe are the pinnacle of competition in our sport. The hype and fuss of Olympics is created by the general public who perhaps don’t really follow snowboarding. When you look at any sport that is massive and successful, Olympics is not the biggest thing going on in their industry. NBA, FIFA, PGA, and many other sport organizations have a successful competitive sport, and have championships that mean much more to the people who truly follow the sport. When your sport relies on the Olympics as the pinnacle, I believe it is the slow death of a sport. BUT, many of the brands, and fans truly like to watch and have their favourite athletes in the Olympics. So, it is always a tough call on how much stress to put on myself to "represent my country". As we all know, we aren't doing it for our country, we are doing it for ourselves and our career success'. 

It’s so great to see you continuing to showcase your style and skills in competitions, like some other Pros out there, but have you thought of retiring from comps to film video parts?

Everyday. BUT, the best transition, and the most quality built halfpipes are at the competitions, and I still like riding a good ole ditch. So, it’s definitely something that I battle with, but I like to compete, but the staleness of riding the same thing every week is really beginning to take a toll on my stoke.

Questions: Will Radula Scott

With thanks to Dan Crichton and Martin Haslwanter at Burton Snowboards.