Barrett Christy, the most successful snowboarder in the X Games,
sidled up to Danny Kass at a halfpipe competition in Mount
Bachelor, Ore., early this month and asked the sport's reigning
rogue if he'd had a date on New Year's Eve. Kass gave an
exaggerated frown, shook his head and replied, "Dude, no chicks
would let me spank 'em."
Plenty of folks in snowboarding would say that Kass is the one
who needs a spanking. "The only thing Danny is good at is
creating controversy," says Pete del'Guidice, coach of the U.S.
freestyle team. Certainly Kass, 19, has done his part to
reinforce the outlaw image of snowboarders. Consider his ouster
from his sponsor's booth at a Las Vegas trade show last year
(after he stole a ski bike and urinated behind another booth) or
his being detained by police last month for disturbing the peace
of his Mammoth Lakes, Calif., neighbors. ("All we did was play
PS2 a little loud at two in the morning," he says.)
Since turning pro three years ago, however, Kass, a native of
Hamburg, N.J., who developed his skills on a skateboard and
moved to Mammoth Lakes at 17 to be near the big slopes, has also
shown himself to be one of his sport's most talented athletes.
Last season Kass swept the X Games, the U.S. Open and the U.S.
Snowboard Grand Prix series. On Sunday, getting his usual big
air on his tricks, he clinched an Olympic berth with a
third-place finish at the Grand Prix final in Breckenridge,
Colo. "I'm stoked to go to the Olympics," he says. "I want to
see how the whole thing works."
Whether the Games are stoked for him is another issue. Kass has
created a stir with his newly launched company, Grenade Gloves.
According to Kass, Grenade has sold out several lines of its
military-punk-style gloves and T-shirts in snowboard shops
across the country, thanks in part to Kass's renegade approach
to marketing. Over the past year he and his pals spray-painted
the company's logo--a camouflage grenade--just about everywhere
they went: on cars, empty buildings, the bellies of young female
fans, even the jacket of an unsuspecting NBC cameraman.
Will we see the Grenade logo around Salt Lake City? A better
question is: Can Kass make his mark on the Olympic halfpipe?
COLOR PHOTO: NATHAN BILOW