Burton U.S. Open: One-On-One With Danny Davis

One of snowboarding’s biggest stars discusses “The World’s Greatest Snowboard Event.”

Ed Millerby Ed Miller

X Games Aspen men's snowboard halfpipe

In 1982, long before the X Games was even an idea, the inaugural U.S. Open of Snowboarding took place at a small resort in central Vermont, thrilling snowboarding fans of all ages. Now, almost 33 years later, the event has moved to Vail, Colorado and shortened its name to the Burton U.S. Open – but it continues to both excite and amaze as one of the season’s definitive snowboarding events.

This year, the Open, which is touted as ‘The World’s Greatest Snowboard Event’, looks to continue to innovate the way their audience experiences live snowboarding – boasting a killer lineup. From live entertainment by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and Girl Talk, to the world’s greatest snowboarders like Greg Bretz, Scotty Lago and Jack Mitrani, the Open – which takes place March 2-7 and will be featured live on Fox Sports 2 – is sure to please almost any snowboarding fan.

But for as much fun as fans can expect, the athletes themselves enjoy the event even more. Take 26-year-old Danny Davis, for example. Davis, fresh off of his second straight Superpipe gold at X Games Aspen, knows the history of the Open and what it means to him. While every contest has some level of pressure, for Davis, the Open is more about shredding the pipe and having some fun.

We recently caught up with the former Olympian to discuss how he prepares for the Burton U.S. Open, what kind of music he listens to in preparation and more.

“Dad likes to have them all”

CraveOnline: First off, congratulations on your recent X Games gold medal.

Danny Davis: Thanks, man (laughs).

Crave: You’re starting to rack up the awards – where do you keep them all?

Davis: My folks hang on to a lot of those (laughs). My dad likes to have them all, so I give them to him because who knows what would happen to them in my house.

Crave: I’m the same way. I have a feeling if that was me, I’d misplace them.

Davis: I don’t like having them at the crib, which is good because my dad loves that.

U.S. Open vs X Games

Crave: After participating at X Games Aspen, what’s it like to compete at the Burton U.S. Open, an event dedicated solely to snowboarding?

Davis: Well, I guess it’s kind of similar because X Games isn’t dedicated to snowboarding only but it really helped raise snowboarding’s future and competitive snowboarding – it helped make snowboarding legit. Just like the Open did. But, I guess what’s different about the Open is the history of it, it goes back to just taking turns and doing slaloms, you know. It’s just a much earlier contest and there’s much more history behind it.

Winter X-Games 2015 Aspen - Men's Snowboard Superpipe Final

Crave: The Open is hyped as the “World’s Best Snowboarding Event” but what is it for you that makes this event so special?

Davis: Aw man. Back in the day, what made it real special was that it was in Vermont. That’s what started me going there. I was from Michigan and that was one of the only professional contests we could drive to and that’s what made it extra special for me as a kid. Now, what makes it extra special is because pretty much the whole team from Burton is there, my family comes and, you know, it’s kind of the contest every rider knows will be fun. X Games might be serious, Grand Prix might be serious, Dew Tours is the beginning of the season and will be pretty serious. With the U.S. Open, everyone knows that they’re going to have a good time, that there’s going to be good music and there’s going to be a good halfpipe. There’s probably going to be people poaching it, and ripping it, and even if they aren’t in the finals on finals day, it’s going to be a bunch of kids ripping it and having a blast.

“I have my good and bad days — everybody does”

Crave: You mentioned your family – do a lot of them come in and just hang out for a few days?

Davis: My parents drive from Utah and I might have some family coming out from Michigan.

Crave: Does that add any pressure for you? Does your X Games gold add pressure as well?

Davis: I mean, no. Because everybody knows I have my good and bad days – everybody does. You’re not going to win every single [contest]. I think everyone understands when I don’t do well – especially my family and friends. It doesn’t add too much more pressure – it kind of just makes it more special. If I were to do well, it would make it very special. But if I don’t do well, we all get to enjoy beers and have a blast. It’s good either way, it’s a great event either way – whether I do well, or sit and root on the other guys. It’s a blast either way.

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Crave: That’s a pretty good attitude to have, Danny.

Davis: Well actually (laughs), going into last year’s contest for the Open I was like, ‘I want to win. I want to do this and I want to do that…’ And then I didn’t even make finals. I was so bummed at myself. [Burton] had the most sponsored in the finals and that showed me that it’s like, you got to just try – and if you do well, you do well and if you don’t, you don’t. It’s all good.

Crave: The crowd loved your final run at X Games, so will you switch it up at all for the Open?

Davis: And that’s when it all works out (laughs). You know, I don’t know. I think, to be honest, sometimes what I like to do is if I did well at the contest before, I’ll use my finals run and I’ll use it in qualifiers just to make sure I get through to finals. Then, once I’m in the finals, I feel like I have a second life and you can just kind of do whatever you want. It’s like, give everything you got or do the best thing you can think of, so I’m sure it’ll be different at the Open than it was at the X Games.

Crave: Do you think of that run on the spot, or is that something you’re contemplating…?

Davis: At X Games we kind of came up with it on the spot, just because there were a couple other runs I tried and they weren’t really working, so we kind of re-crafted one on the spot. But it’s a collaboration of a bunch of people – it’s Jack [Mitrani], it’s the rookie managers from Burton and some of my other peers who are riding in the contest like Scotty [Lago] and Greg [Bretz]. I kind of just formulate a plan from there.

Friends

Crave: So, as much as you’re competing against each other, you’ll still get ideas from each other?

Davis: They’re my friends. My friends will, for sure. I have a lot of friends in the contest, so I’m lucky. I don’t think everybody has that – I feel like I’m lucky to have that.

Snowboard - Winter Olympics Day 4

Crave: You have several contests and obligations in January and February, at what point do you transition your focus to the U.S. Open?

Davis: Probably just two or three days before the Open. I’ll probably ride a little pipe and get ready but I think I’ll just chill – that’s kind of been the plan this year. Last year, it was a ton of halfpipe riding. And yeah, this year with X Games and going to Japan 10 days before it, I was worried about that, that I hadn’t ridden many pipes, but things worked out. I’m going to try and ride a couple weeks before the Open gets rolling.

Daily routine

Crave: In those two or three days before the Open, can you explain a typical training day for you and how you prepare both mentally and physically?

Danny: It just really depends, you know. I’ll go ride pipe and go have some fun and get back into the spirit of riding halfpipe but my training is just like any other day, man. I’m just like you, or anybody else – I get up, I have coffee. The only thing that might be different is I stretch a little bit, I hang out, listen to music, enjoy breakfast and then go shred – whether it’s the halfpipe or we’re filming, whatever. I’m just snowboarding. I’m just trying to ride whatever is in front of me. And that’s kind of what has happened with pipe. I just want to keep having fun with it so I try to change up my run every time to keep it fresh, keep it new and keep it fun. When you ride the same thing all the time, you have to find ways to make it fun again.

Crave: You mentioned music. What kind of music do you have pumping through your headphones either at practice or right before a big run?

Davis: Man, that always changes. It could be bluegrass, it could be [Led] Zeppelin, it could be Grateful Dead one day. I mean, I have tons of playlists, you know. I’m sure, just like anybody else, that when you play a playlist too long it gets old. I try to just [listen to] whatever I haven’t heard in a while.

Crave: So, do you kind of just press shuffle and let the iPod do the work?

Davis: Sometimes, but sometimes I’ll make a nice little playlist of jams I’ve been getting into recently.

Ed Miller is a contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @PhillyEdMiller or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.

 Photo Credit: Getty