Amongst an ever changing landscape of double corks and pressure to ‘stay core’, Louie Vito has emerged as one of snowboarding’s most talented yet fun-loving icons. Whether he’s topping the Dew Tour podium or hosting a charity rail jam in his hometown, Louie does so with undaunting positivity. With the Dew Tour season around the corner, we sat down with Louie to get his thoughts on his favorite place to ride, staying stoked throughout the season and why it’s important to remember where you came from.
Louie will return to the superpipe at the Nike Open to defend his Dew Cup
You were born in Ohio, moved to Vermont to attend Stratton Mountain School then moved to Salt Lake…where do you enjoy riding most?
I truly did the stepping stones when it came to terrain. I rode the small hills in the Midwest, then moved to the icy mountains of the East Coast and now live in Utah, “The Greatest Snow on Earth.” I enjoy riding everywhere as long as there is good snow and good friends but if I was forced to pick then I would have to say that I enjoy most places on the West Coast.
What was snowboarding like when you turned pro in 2005, and how has it changed since?
I think it is crazy to see how much the sport has progressed and grown. There are so many good kids out there now. Even kids who aren’t even sponsored and just ride their local hill are ripping. Just take a look at the tricks that are being done from slopestyle, to riding rails, to riding halfpipe, you can really see the progression.
22-foot pipe has become the standard, do you think a bigger pipe is going to needed for bigger tricks?
I don’t know if the halfpipes are going to grow quite yet but I think the new 22-foot pipes are a lot better than the old 18-foot ones. But not many mountains have the luxury of a 22-foot cutter that they can use all season.
You’ve conquered the pipe and are coming back for more, do you have any interest in taking on slope style as well? What keeps you motivated to push yourself all season long and not get burnt out?
Contests can get pretty intense going from one to another to another but I think since every halfpipe is different, the scenery is different, different riders, all kinds of weather conditions, I’m always motivated because it keeps things interesting and challenging.
Louie on top of the podium with Kevin Pearce
Are there any other riders that have been a positive influence in maintaining a positive perspective on competing?
Danny Kass has always told me to take advantage of contests now. He is someone who has done it all and I really respect him. So I am enjoying the contests now, and I will have plenty of time to just ride pow down the road. Right now I’ll get some pow turns in when I can but contests are my main focus.
Have you taken on being a mentor to any young riders?
I don’t know if I will claim being a mentor but I have a lot of lil homies that I like to watch grow up n rip. Toby Miller, I like to think of as my lil brother and I enjoy riding with him and he is like 10 or 11 years old.
Louie hanging out with his fans at the Dew Tour
Every year you organize a rail jam for charity in your home state of Ohio, how did that come about?
I wanted to give back to all those that helped me when I was just getting started. I also wanted to do something for the mountain and the local riders that I grew up riding with. Mad River Mountain and the people there helped shape me to be the person and rider that I am today. I wouldn’t be Louie Vito if I grew up riding on the west coast or wasn’t from Ohio.
Why is the event important to you?
I just wanted to give back to the community as much as possible and help those that are less fortunate than me while at the same time stoke out the local kids with a fun contest. My sponsors kick in and we give away more than $25,000 in product. In fact, no one goes away empty handed. And last year we had over 400 kids compete and over 1,000 people in attendance! And it keeps getting bigger! It is important to me to keep this contest free for all the kids (they do have to donate some kind of food item.) We donate all the food and money (from raffles, and other sales) that we do make from this event to a local charity.
What charity does the event support?
It supports the St. Vincent DePaul Society and their local food pantry. Kids need to bring any non-perishable canned or boxed good or any paper products. The event takes place right after Christmas so the food pantries are wiped. We restock them and then some for several needy families for many months.