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We Love Louie!

The Snowboarding Olympian talks Shredding the Gnar, Dancing with the Stars, Olympics Prep, and his preferred hype music

Since we’re feeling the Arizona heat, thought to cool things down with some fresh powder, manifesting a wintery chill.

As we embark on the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, we connected with a Valley Olympian, Louie Vito, known for shredding the gnar and representing the United States as a Scottsdale-based snowboarder.

Vito is a pro snowboarder, actor, Olympian, 6 Times X Games medalist, “Dancing with the Stars” contestant, model, two-time Dew Tour Cup Champion, Grand Prix Tour Champion, and the CW Network's Most Awesome Athlete. Impressive resume, right?

We scored an exclusive with the esteemed athlete for an inside scoop into the Olympics, along with sharing his inspirational backstory.

First, when did you start snowboarding?

Growing up in Ohio, I started snowboarding when I was 5 years old. There was a small resort near my house with a vertical drop of just 290 feet. I started with skiing, but when my dad and I noticed people snowboarding, we decided to give it a try. From that moment, we were hooked. Back then, snowboarding wasn't what it is today. It wasn't even an Olympic sport.

What do you love about boarding?  

There aren't any rules. There isn’t a syllabus to follow like other sports. You can ride the park, ride the groomers, and ride powder- whatever you want. Two people could do the same trick, with the same grab, and make it look completely different. You can add your own style and flavor to everything you do.

At one point did you have the "ah-ha" moment you were Olympics-bound? 

The realization hit me during my 8th grade year when I attended Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, a snowboard-focused boarding school.

In 2002, a classmate invited me and my dad to the Salt Lake City Olympics, where we watched the halfpipe event. That year, the USA swept the podium, with Ross Powers winning gold. Ross was a graduate of Stratton Mountain School and was coached by the same person who coached me. Later that year, I won the USASA Nationals in my age group. The combination of these experiences made me realize that competing in the Olympics could be a realistic goal.

What's it like preparing for the Olympics?  

It's like any other year, but with more hype and pressure. The summer before an Olympic year, snowboarding typically sees significant progression. You always want to be at the forefront of that, pushing yourself to master new tricks. However, you aim to stay safe, as learning new tricks comes with a high risk of taking hard slams.

At 21 years old in 2010, you partook in your first Olympics in Vancouver. How did that feel?

I felt confident at my first Olympics.

The fall leading up to the Games, I competed on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” Anyone who saw the show can imagine how far that experience stretched my comfort zone. I wore outfits I wouldn’t consider for Halloween, performed dances I wasn’t confident in, tried to please judges whose expectations I didn’t fully understand, all while in front of a live audience and millions of viewers. When I returned to snowboarding, it was a relief. I was back in my comfort zone, wearing what I wanted, doing tricks I loved, and understanding exactly what the judges were looking for.

What goes through your mind when it’s your turn in the Olympics?

I tell myself “Let’s do this" and go into autopilot. It becomes your precious moment to show the world what you can do.

I listen to the same song all season for my contest runs: “Pressure” by Machine Gun Kelly. With noise-cancelling headphones, there’s no outside noise. When it's my time to drop in, I go to my starting spot, tighten my bindings, make the sign of the cross, take a deep breath, say something positive to myself, and go. Once I'm in the halfpipe, I don't hear anything until my last trick. Then I might hear my music again. While riding, it's completely silent.

What did you place in your first Olympics?  

I finished 5th. It stung, but as we say, “sometimes you get the elevator, sometimes you get the shaft.”

You also competed in the Beijing, China Olympics. How did the experience of your first Olympics prepare you for your second?

Because of COVID, it wasn't as enriching because it was very much fly in, practice, compete, and leave. There, I finished 13th being bumped out of contention for a spot in the finals.

How does it feel being an Olympian?  

It's remarkable. I came from Ohio with no mountains. Going from that to competing in the halfpipe at the Olympics is surreal. I am blessed.

Witnessing all the nations coming together is awesome. I loved the atmosphere, the fans, and the opportunity to showcase our sport.

What’s the most challenging thing about competing in the Olympics?

The whole hoopla - constant security checks, endless bus rides, and having your pass checked every few steps.

Looking back, what is the most memorable moment in your boarding career?  

Attending my inaugural X-Games, clinching my first X-Games victory, and participating in the Olympics.

Favorite snowboarding destination.

Tough question. The enjoyment hinges on the company you're with and the weather conditions. Some of my most memorable boarding days have been on small hills, while I've had less-than-stellar experiences on top-tier mountains with terrible weather. Personally, I love riding in Japan and at Snowbird in Utah.

Snowboarding destination on your bucket list.

If it's a remote spot off the beaten path, count me in!

What do you eat for breakfast on competition days?

A few eggs and oatmeal.

Given this year’s Paris Olympics, any behind the scenes insight?

So much happens in the years leading up to the competition, yet viewers only witness the final day. Did they juggle a 9-5 job to support their Olympic dream? Did they battle injuries? Were they the underdog who defied all odds? There's a wealth of untold stories behind every Olympian's journey.

What would you like to tell the athletes competing this year?

You've invested the effort, made the sacrifices, and now it's your time to shine and deliver an unforgettable performance.

What's your favorite summer Olympic sport to watch?

With my dad being a wrestler and coach, I've always enjoyed watching wrestling. I’m also a member of Team Toyota for 13+ years, so I support my teammates by watching any event they compete in.

What's next for you?

I’m focused on the next Olympics in 2026. I'm putting in relentless effort both on and off the snow. Despite having enjoyed a professional career spanning 20+ years, the grind continues.

How's life as a newlywed?

Amazing. My wife, Hailey Ostrom, is my best friend and I am so lucky to be able to spend the rest of my life with her. 

Fave Valley hot spots?

We frequent Etta, Frank and Lupe’s, and Mad Greens. I don't go out as often as I used to, but I’ve had good times at Whiskey Row.

I value being a strong male role model for kids. It's important to positively represent myself and my family, but also be a solid ambassador for the sport of snowboarding. I talk with kids I meet on the mountain and hope they feel comfortable approaching me for advice.

IG @louievito