Danny Davis of USA in action during the men’s snowboard halfpipe qualification. (EPA/JENS BUETTNER)

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — The halfpipe finals are up shortly at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, and for 11 of the riders in the field, the path to gold is simple: It runs through Shaun White.

“I got to step it up to beat Shaun,” said American teammate Danny Davis. “He’ll have to step up his run as well. It’ll be an interesting final.”

White posted the highest score in the qualification round and didn’t even need to pull out his biggest tricks. If anyone can de-throne White and prevent him from winning a third straight Olympic gold, it might be Davis. He won gold at the X-Games last month and is riding a high level right now. He posted the fourth-best score in the qualification round Tuesday afternoon.

“I didn’t do exactly what I wanted to do,” he said, “bounced around a little bit… Hopefully in the finals, I’ll be able to match transition a little bit better and do exactly the run I want to do.”

Davis’s early run stood out for its uniqueness. While many riders try to spin their way to the podium, Davis, 25, is big on style. Included in his early run was a switch method, switch back rodeo and a double crippler.

“That’s kind of what I like to do – do the tricks that I enjoy and also what I think, in a way, people like to see,” he said. “Not the same ol’-same ol’.

While riders complained about the halfpipe following both practice sessions, Davis said it was improved Tuesday. Even though the pipe took a beating Tuesday afternoon with a total of 78 runs in the qualification round, plus many more during practice time, some riders said they expected the halfpipe to be in better condition in the evening competition. As the sun sets and the temperature drops, the snow could freeze more and help solidify the slushy transitions and the rough surface area.

“If you’re good at snowboarding, you should be able to get on your back foot and prepare for the bumps,” said British rider Dominic Harington, who was eliminated earlier Tuesday in the qualification round, “so you should know how to deal with it.”

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