By Nick Lipton – Most snowboarders used the summer to relax, heal nagging injuries, and hang by the pool. Louie Vito spent it establishing himself as a household name. While most air-conditioners were working overtime Vito was glacier boarding in High Cascade Snowboard Camp’s private superpipe. Exhausting afternoons and hard slams paid off, Vito packed the coveted double-cork into his pipe arsenal. Within a month Louie headed down under for the New Zealand Open. Vito’s hustle paid off as his frontside double-cork 1080 was the first in competition history. With winter still months away Vito landed a spot competing on Dancing with the Stars. The prime-time series catapulted Vito into the American spotlight and the top tier of snowboarding success. As resorts begin to open and the snow falls more regularly Vito has ditched the dance shoes for a pair of boots. Now Vito will begin down the cutthroat road to the Olympics where he must dominate to defend his newfound hype. His first real test falls on December 17th in Breckenridge, Colorado, the first stop of the Winter Dew Tour.
Nick Lipton: Last year you showed up for two of the three Winter Dew Tour stops. Why didn’t you do all three?
Louie Vito: Well the reason I only did two Dew Tours last year was I got hurt right before the Mt. Snow one. I was real bummed, I wanted to go to all three last year.
Do you plan on competing in all three Dew stops this year, or do you have some kind of pre-Olympic schedule to keep?
LV: For me it’s really just play it by ear. I’m going to be in Colorado and I’ll see how it feels just going into that first one. See how my body is reacting and how it’s holding up. See if I’m feeling healthy, if I’m feeling tired, you know, riding well, see what I need to work on, just play it by ear. I’m just gunna’ take it one contest at a time, and if I’m riding well and my body is feeling good then I’ll probably do them all, and if I’m hurting or if I feel like I’m struggling, then I’l go from there.
Now that home base is in Salt Lake City are you excited for the Snow Basin stop?
LV: Yeah, I mean it’s cool. I like having any contest at new resorts because it really gets you riding different terrain and shredding up new mountains, and Snow Basin is a pretty sick mountain. It’s always fun going to new resorts.
Are the Olympics in your sights yet? Are you worried at all, or are you feeling confident about the future?
LV: I mean you gotta go into it being positive and thinking positive. I’m feeling pretty good going into it. I’m feeling strong and healthy and that’s all I can ask for.
This year’s must have trick seems to be the double cork. Who’s got it, who doesn’t, and who are you keeping an eye on?
LV: You know, every contest someone can be stepping it up, and that’s what’s so good about our sport. One day someone could not qualify and the next day they could win the contest. You know we have so many good riders and the double cork is a good trick. There’s quite a few people who have it and I’m sure there are a quite a few people who are going to learn it between the contests ya’ know. Just because they don’t have it now doesn’t mean they aren’t going to have it in time for the first qualifier, the second qualifier, and so forth.
After you’re wild off-season (Vito acted in a mainstream reality show) are you ready to get back to strapping in?
LV: Um, ya know, I’m pretty much ready more than ever to get back into my own, my own comfort zone, and just get going. Dancing with the Stars was a whole new world, I was not comfortable with it, not confident with it, but I pushed through and it was a great way to keep my mind off of snowboarding. Now I’m ready to get back into snowboarding and my comfort zone.
With the Olympics looming are you preparing any differently for the upcoming contest season, and who’s your biggest competition?
LV: I’m like my own biggest competitor you know. I just have to make sure I land my run, that’s the only thing I can control, I can’t control what other people are doing. Obviously Shaun (White) is going to be riding well and I know Luke Mitrani has been riding well, but you can’t really think about them, you gotta focus on yourself and what you need to do.
Last summer the US Snowboard Team had a special superpipe built on Mt. Hood’s summer glacier. Did those sessions pay off; do you have anything new in your bag-o-tricks?
LV: Yeah, I did some double corks down in Hood and in the New Zealand Open this year and was stoked on that. I just want to put down some runs at the Grand Prix’s, and at every contest I do this year, that will actually be good enough to get me to where I want to be.
Having been a contestant on Dancing with the Stars are there any other reality shows you’d like to be on?
LV:: Uh, Fantasy Factory, that show is sick. You know Rob (Dyrdek) is doing such big things and he’s always thinking outside of the box. He just gets to do whatever his fantasy is and I think that’s cool you know. You think of something because you can you know what I’m saying, like there’s no boundaries, you can do whatever you want.
What about guest judge on America’s Next Top Model?
LV: I could do that man, I mean I’m not opposed to that, that sounds good to me. I mean I’m down for whatever, especially that type of show.
Toyota Championship Snowboard Superpipe Men: Louie Vito – Run 1