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?