Danny Davis is damn good for snowboarding. A highly-decorated contest snowboarder, he had a close call with a near career-ending ATV accident in 2010. But instead of packing up and calling it quits, he shifted his focus, barreling in on what he loved to do, and began really living. He moved past his accident with a grace and panache that has become something of a Danny Davis trademark — and today he continues to slay pipes, powder, and parks with a renewed vigor.
He seems a man hell-bent on a mission to live life to the fullest, and put himself in situations that allows for it.
Three years ago, Davis and his sponsors Mt. Dew and Burton teamed up with the famed SPT (Snow Park Technologies) crew to create a one-of-a-kind event dubbed the Peace Pipe. The event was supposed to evoke the original spirit of snowboarding by creating an environment where a group of friends could get together let their long hippie locks down and really enjoy jamming with one another.
Three years later, it is easy to deem it a success. Peace Pipe has since evolved into the Peace Park as the stoke continues to grow over the last three years, this year bringing some of the most progressive snowboarding in the world to the backwoods and hilltops of Grand Targhee, Wyoming.
I recently caught up with Davis and asked about Peace Park, his near career-ender, and those Frends of his.
Matthew Vanatta: The new project looks awesome. How long before the initial Peace Pipe had you been conceptualizing an event like this?
Danny Davis: Bryan Knox from Burton and myself had been talking about using transition in a different way for a while. We both talked about how we were getting bored of the standard pipe shoot at the end of the season and when Mountain Dew came in and wanted to do something special, they backed our idea, and so we started to really conceptualize it from there. Holy Bowly was a huge inspiration for Peace Park.
Were you surprised that Burton and Mountain Dew came on board and backed it so heavily?
I wasn’t surprised at all. Burton and Mountain Dew always have my back. But what did surprise me was the extent that Mountain Dew and Burton took it to. The very first year it was going to have its own section in the Burton movie and then Mountain Dew brought it to national television to give people a different view of transition and snowboarding as a whole.
I’m really just blown away at how much attention and support that Mountain Dew and Burton have continued to put in year after year. They have truly made it what it is today.
Gunny (Chris Gunnarson) is a legend in the game. How critical has it been to have SPT involved from concept to completion?
Gunny, Frank Wells, and the whole SPT crew are simply the best at what they do. I have built stuff with other cat operators and park creators, but no one takes it to the level those guys do. Frank Wells is a snowboarder and that is a huge part of why he is so good at what he does. When I explain ideas to SPT, they know exactly what I’m talking about and not only know how to build it, but also how to make it better and ultimately more fun to ride. They are the only crew to use if your going to build something that is perfect.
You had a pretty serious injury a couple of year ago that could have ended your snowboarding career. How has your perspective on snowboarding shifted since that occurred?
I think that injury changed my perspective on life more than anything — it was a result of my stupidity. But when Kevin got hurt, and after watching Luke’s injury as well, I started to look at snowboarding in a much different way. Instead of focusing on being the best and continually trying to learn what the next best trick is, or adding more flips, I decided I just wanted to be able to snowboard forever. I didn’t want to do tricks that made me feel like I could die, I wanted to do tricks that were fun and made me feel like I was progressing the way I wanted to, not the way I had to. I love snowboarding, it has given me so much, but I don’t want to die or never be able to walk again.
You and the Frends crew seem to have a good time and not take things too seriously. Has this crew been involved in this project at all?
The whole idea behind Peace Park stems from Frends. It’s all about inclusivity and riding with your frends, progressing, and pushing each other in a purely organic fashion. Not because there is a medal on the line. I try to involve the crew in anything I’m doing. They are my best frends.
Who surprised you the most at this year’s session?
Nick Baden, Ben Ferguson, and as always, Charles Reid. Everyone ripped the shit out of the course, but they definitely surprised me the most.
It doesn’t seem to me like you’re gunning for the next Olympics or trying to be the super serious contest guy any longer. What does the next few years look like for you in regards to contests, etc.?
I don’t know what will happen in the next three to four years. If you asked me what was to come four years ago, I wouldn’t have painted the picture that happened. So I’m just going to ride and ride as much as I can. I will continue to do contests because there are a few I really love. Dew Tour’s pipe is always really good. I love X Games and the Burton US Open. But I definitely want to spend some time filming again. I haven’t dedicated time to filming since I filmed with Absinthe back in the day, so I am really excited to do that. And of course, more Peace Parks!
Anything you want to add?
Thank you to all the riders who came and made Peace Park what it is. It would be nothing without all my Frends.
For more of Adam Moran’s photography, check out A Mountain Life: On the Road with Burton.