Louie Vito, Olympic Snowboarder

By Brandon Smith

Louie Vito, who hails from the small town of Bellefontaine, Ohio, is possibly one of the best active half-pipe snowboarders in history. Along with being on “Dancing with the Stars,” he was a member of the 2010 U.S. Olympic snowboarding team, placing fifth in the half-pipe event. He won the U.S. Grand Prix two consecutive times, and in 2011 took honors in some of the sports’ most competitive contests, including three consecutive X Games titles. The Chronicle got a gold medal opportunity to talk with Vito about what it’s been like “shreddin’ the gnar” all these years.

The Chronicle: How does it feel to hear people say you have one of the best professional snowboarding careers in history?

Louie Vito: [Laughs] If that’s true, I feel pretty good. Every year I just want to keep progressing and start where I left off from the season before.

Has it always been your ambition to become a professional snowboarder? Did you ever have another career in mind?

I am a really competitive person in anything I do. When I played sports, I always wanted to be the best and was always working hard to get to the top. But I am also really hard on myself. Growing up in Ohio, it was hard to believe compliments on my riding, especially coming from adults who had kids in the snowboard scene out East or West. I didn’t really think about being a pro snowboarder until I started progressing in [United States of America Snowboard Association] contests on the national level. I used to be really into soccer too. I did the whole club and Olympic Development

Program thing.

Were you surprised at how well you performed when you started competing at higher levels?

I was shocked for sure. On top of our small hills we have in the Midwest, we have much shorter seasons. I remember I would be off the snow for a couple of months before Nationals every spring while kids out East and West were riding big mountains and resorts well past the springtime. What I think helped me—and I tell people in the Midwest this all the time—is just riding at any and every resort I could. I wanted to ride any new resort. My dad and I use to road trip all over the Midwest. Also, you don’t take anything for granted. Any new resort or new terrain I got to ride, I was hyped.

Where’s your favorite place in the world to ride?

I always love riding in New Zealand, but I love riding at Snowbird [Ski and Summer Resort in Utah] on a good powder day with good friends. The Alps are fun because being in those mountains is a lot different than being in the mountains in the U.S. You are literally up in the mountains in

old villages.

What has been your favorite competition to date?

I think any X Games I do are fun. [There are] good contest and good crowds, but also I grew up watching every X Games and every event. To be competing in them is still pretty surreal.

How do you feel you encourage small town kids to pick up a board and shred?

How many people have made it as a professional snowboarder from Ohio? How many competed in the Winter Olympics as a snowboarder or skier from Ohio? Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Dream it and achieve it.