Danny Davis talks Peace Park, possibly the next evolution in competitive riding

Images from Peace Park 6 at Grand Targhee Ski Resort.
Dean Blotto Gray/courtesy photo |

While he’s only 29, Danny Davis can’t help but notice he’s become somewhat of an old-timer in the world of professional snowboarding. So it made too much sense not to bring in more youth for his annual snowboarding event, Peace Park.

“I’m the older guy now, which is super weird. It happened so quick,” Davis told The Aspen Times from his home in Truckee, California, last week. “We feed off each other a bit and having more of a youthful squad there, it really brought the energy up.”

Davis, a two-time X Games Aspen gold medalist in the superpipe and 2014 Olympian, is known for his scruffy beard and general likeability. But he’s also known for being the rider behind Peace Park, which held its sixth annual event back in April at Grand Targhee Ski Resort in Wyoming.

For the fourth year in a row, ABC’s “World of X Games” television series will feature Peace Park in a 30-minute episode that will air Sunday at 1 p.m. MT.

Describing what Peace Park is can be difficult, even for Davis. It’s not a competition, but it is. It is a halfpipe, but it’s also so much more. At its heart, though, it’s an excuse for Davis to invite his snowboarding friends for a private shred session in the Tetons.

“It’s a really big collaborative effort now of what the course becomes,” Davis said. “Now it’s so far from just a halfpipe. The first year we did pretty much just a halfpipe that was decorated with stuff to make it different. Now it’s a full-on course.”

Peace Park was originally a simple halfpipe photo shoot put on by Burton and Mountain Dew. The first year it was held at Northstar, near Davis’ home in Truckee. It then went down the road to nearby Squaw Valley for a year before finding what seems to be a permanent home at Targhee, the modest resort not far from Jackson and Yellowstone National Park.

While Davis only had a small hand in Peace Park during its early years, Burton and Mountain Dew have pretty much handed over complete control of the event to Davis, who believes its unique approach to snowboarding could become the future of the sport.

“Now it’s really in my hands. I go find the editors and I find a producer and it’s really my project,” Davis said, noting he’s spent months working on the final edits for Sunday’s “World of X Games” episode. “There are so many ways to take this thing. I get so excited about the future of it.”

What Davis seeks is to get snowboarders away from their traditional disciplines, such as being exclusively a halfpipe or slopestyle rider. With Peace Park, he’s created a course that includes everything from a banked slalom course, 80-foot-long quarterpipe, 450-foot-long halfpipe and a 22-foot-tall, 90-foot-diameter snow bowl at the bottom of the course.

To master the Peace Park, riders must find a next-level of creativity. While there is no official competition, a few honors are handed out at the end, including a best rider award voted on by the athletes.

This year’s group consisted of many of the best riders in the world, including reigning X Games Aspen superpipe gold medalist Scotty James, Summit County’s teen phenom Red Gerard, and Canadian slopestyle and big air superstar Mark McMorris, among many others. Even big mountain icon Travis Rice, who lives in nearby Jackson, found time to stop by.

New this year was the addition of a qualifier, held in Vermont, which allowed a relative unknown to earn an all-paid invite to Peace Park. The qualifier was won by Luke Winkelmann, one of a handful of young newcomers Davis said could become a household name soon enough.

“We actually found two really sick shredders. You are going to see them in the future, no doubt,” Davis said. “These kids were ready to just send it. The stoke they had every day when we got up there, regardless of how late we stayed up or whatever, it was really just a beautiful thing. They were very easy to get going and get in the mood to go shred.”

Davis hopes Peace Park, which he calls “a big mash of both” halfpipe and slopestyle riding, can evolve into its own discipline, with its own global tour. The events would be held in the relative offseason, as not to compete with the mainstream events such as Dew Tour, X Games and the U.S. Open.

As for those mainstream events, Davis plans to be at all of them this season, including X Games Aspen and the Grand Prix in Snowmass, both in January, as he looks to qualify for the Olympics for a second time in his career. He was 10th in the halfpipe at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

“I’m going to give it a go,” Davis said. “This is kind of the year to compete.”