Can Louie Vito Jr. call the tune in men's halfpipe?
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- You wanna be a cowboy? That was always going to be a tough stretch for a charismatic kid from Columbus, Ohio, named Louie Vito Jr. (And, no, going to Ohio State football games at The Horseshoe doesn't count.) Vito h...
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- You wanna be a cowboy?
That was always going to be a tough stretch for a charismatic kid from Columbus, Ohio, named Louie Vito Jr.
(And, no, going to Ohio State football games at The Horseshoe doesn't count.)
Vito had never heard of cowboy legend Ty Murray but journeyed to Texas to walk the walk, or in this case, dance the dance. Vito had to prepare for a high-pressure two-step for one of his turns on "Dancing With the Stars" and wanted to tap into the cowboy mentality.
Vito was talking about the experience last month at a coffee shop in the Los Angeles area in an interview, and said that he would get a running start and Murray would lasso him.
"In the same spot," Vito said, pointing to the middle of his own chest. "Every single time."
This prompts the Olympic-sized question: Can Vito possibly manage to lasso snowboarder Shaun White, the biggest name in the sport, on Wednesday night at Cypress Mountain in the men's halfpipe?
The rope in question might be the difficult double-cork trick. Vito has one in his arsenal but so does White, the defending Olympic champion.
Vito didn't have the luxury of learning the double cork in a foam pit. He said he landed the front-side double cork on his second try during practice at Mount Hood, Ore.
"Anyone knows what it is like to be scared -- with the double cork I had to learn those on the snow and not anywhere else because I didn't know what the feeling was going to be like," Vito said.
"You just take a deep breath and just go and tell yourself, no matter what, you're going to do it. When you don't commit, that's when the big accidents happen."
White said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in January that Vito lighted a fire under him earlier this season, causing him genuine unease.
"I truly feel he could have threatened my victory," White said of the Grand Prix event at Copper Mountain in December. "I didn't feel that great feeling that I put down what I came there to do and here was no question."
Said Vito: "It's cool. I love hanging out with Shaun. It's nice to ride with the best of the best. I think I push him a little bit and he pushes me. That's what snowboarding is all about, riding with friends and pushing each other."
Vito was put into snowboarding at an early age, five, an attempt to harness his vast childlike energy, said his father, Louie Vito Sr.
Vito's father owns a couple of radio stations in Ohio and his son was put on radio shows, a cool form of baby sitting.
"He's been fortunate to have passion and to be so good," Vito Sr. said. "I would introduce him as an S.O.B. -- the son of a broadcaster.
"I often get asked the question: Do you wish your son was competing in another era? There's more than one rider that can be the face of snowboarding. Shaun is outstanding. Louie is good too.
"There is room enough for a couple in the room."
Room for two stars in the broadcast booth... or maybe in this case, on the podium.