Life after halfpipe

Danny Davis was a major presence at the U.S. Open despite the fact that he missed the cut for the halfpipe finals. It was the second major competition he's entered since the back injury in January 2010 that kept him out of the Olympics and last year's Open. This year his bearded face was on posters all around the Stratton Mountain venue and on signs people were carrying all weekend.

This year's '60s U.S. Open theme -- with tie-dye t-shirts, a jam tent full of musical instruments, and peace signs all over the place -- had him feeling right at home. He charged his way around the invitational jam session on Friday night and poached the pipe in between finals runs on Saturday, providing an answer for everyone who's been wondering how his recovery is coming along.

"I feel good, man," said Davis. "I always love this event. It's like my hometown. I went to school right down the street and I've got a lot of friends and family here, so it's always a nice place for me to come back to."

Asked if he was bummed to miss the cut for finals, he replied in the laid-back positive vibe he's famous for that he wasn't all that broken up about it.

"I'm kind of easing back into the contest scene and I honestly haven't really been riding in the pipe much, so I didn't have real high expectations. I really just wanted to be here to come and chill and see all my homies."

One of his homies, Kazuhiro Kokubo, ended up winning on Saturday, claiming his second U.S. Open title in a row. "Kazu's like our Japanese Frend and he's become part of our crew," said Davis. "It was great to see him out there killing it this weekend. Go, Kazu!"

Davis says he'll be skipping Winter X Europe this week, but hopes to be back in the mix at the Winter Dew Tour, Winter X, and the Burton Global Open series next year. In the meantime, his time off has helped him fall in love with snowboarding all over again.

"I've been learning to love the mountains more than ever before. Just being out there, getting away from everything else in the world. The big fluffy snow has my body feeling good this year, impact-wise, so I've been trying to stay out of icy halfpipes and keep it in the pow. I've been getting out on splitboards and getting after it in the backcountry, getting back in shape, remembering how much of the best parts of snowboarding you can miss when you get focused on winning contests.

"It's been a good thing, in the end. Sometimes things happen for reasons you can't understand."