Published: January 26, 2014
ASPEN - As much as piling up wins, Danny Davis wants to roll through his snowboarding life doing things his way.
On Sunday at the Winter X Games, he did both.
And now, he's on that short list of those who could give Shaun White a run when they get to Russia.
Mixing old-school moves with soaring jumps that showed off the guitar painted on the bottom of his board, Davis won his biggest contest yet. He scored a 95 on Sunday to win the last major halfpipe contest before the Olympics.
White skipped the X Games, choosing training over a shot at his seventh straight title in Aspen.
"It's bittersweet when Shaun's not here," Davis said. "He's the one to beat but forget it. I'll take it."
White's absence made for a wide-open race and Davis won it, edging Louie Vito by two points. Greg Bretz finished third.
Another of White's challengers, Iouri Podladtchikov, couldn't land his four-twisting "Yolo" trick cleanly and finished sixth.
Only White and Podladtchikov, known as the "I-Pod," have been attempting the "Yolo." Podladtchikov said he's convinced no one will win Olympic gold without it.
"I love Danny's riding," he said.
Though Davis won without White in the field, he has beaten the world's best snowboarder before. That was back in 2010 - a victory that all but sewed up his spot at the Vancouver Games. But he broke his pelvis in an accident on an all-terrain vehicle and had to stay home. The last four years have been a slow, rugged set of comebacks from multiple injuries.
Davis got better just in time to sneak onto this year's U.S. Olympic team, and is starting to peak with 17 days to go.
Nick Goepper heads into the Olympics after landing a triple cork jump during his final run to defend his ski slopestyle title. ... Kaya Turski of Canada is in form five months after tearing her left ACL. She won the ski slopestyle and will be a favorite in Sochi.