It’s easy to relate when someone says they are busy, because aren’t we all? But Olympic athlete Louie Vito takes the word to a whole new level. We caught up with the professional snowboarder in Colorado where he was busy preparing for this week’s FIS Snowboard World Cup in Russia. But don’t think he’s all work and no play. The 24-year-old had just gotten back from attending the Super Bowl in New Orleans when we chatted with him about his hopes for next year’s Olympic Winter Games, as well as his love for charity work.
First of all, how do you find the time for everything?
|Louie Vito of Bellefontaine, Ohio does an aerial above the halfpipe
during practice for the Men's Snowboard Super Pipe at Winter X Games
at Buttermilk Mountain on January 29, 2011 in Aspen, Colorado.
Snowboarding to me is just what I do, how I live. It’s not like, man, I’m this bigshot. I don’t think like that. So if someone says we really want you to come out for an event, or we really want you to sign something, then I’m all for it. Because if they think that me writing my name on something can benefit research, or benefit a program or anything of that sort—it takes two seconds out of my day. And I really feel like I’m blessed to live the life that I live. I’m blessed with the success that I’ve had at an early age.
You just hosted the 9th Charity Rail Jam in Ohio this past month. What made you start that?
I grew up in Ohio and in places like Colorado kids who live here they see pro contests, they see pro riders all the time. There’s constantly little amp contests and free stuff going on, but in the Midwest you never get to see snowboard tours or anything really coming through there. The whole thing is just about giving back and stoking the kids.
Since it’s pretty flat in Bellefontaine—you can’t do a half pipe competition there—it’s a rail jam at Mad River Mountain. And instead of paying money to enter it’s just a canned food product. And all that goes to St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church and they distribute it to all their food pantries. We always do it after Christmas because the local food pantries are bone-dry after the holidays.
|Professional snowboarder Louie Vito arrives at the 2012 ESPY Awards
at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
I think it’s great to give back because growing up in Ohio I had so many people supporting me. The way I was raised in the Midwest shaped the person that I am, and I just want to give back to the community that supports me and has my back no matter what.
This isn’t the only charity work you do. What are some of your other favorites?
One charity that I’m a huge supporter of is Make-A-Wish Foundation, because I think what they do is amazing. I got the opportunity to do that at an X Games one year with a kid and it’s so fun. You’re out and about having a good time and hanging out with a kid who wanted to meet you—which to me is awesome. I love hanging out with people who are stoked on life.
Since snowboarding is your job, what are you doing to ensure you get to the Sochi 2014 Olympics and get the outcome you want?
|Louie Vito puts on his bib during practice for the men's snowboard
superpipe eliminations during Winter X Games 2012 at Buttermilk
Mountain on January 29, 2012 in Aspen, Colorado.
I got a new trainer, John Schaeffer. I thought, ‘Who is the most in-shape winter Olympian?’, and Apolo Ohno came to mind. He is a workout fanatic and also the most decorated U.S. winter Olympian ever. I figured he could go see any trainer he wanted and he picked John. I actually met with John at a Dancing with the Stars party. I talked to him about training me and he said I’m going need four-six weeks from you. But what if I can tell you you’ll be stronger than you’ve ever been?
When you’re allowed a cheat day, what is your favorite food to eat?
I don’t eat rice normally, so I would eat a lot of sushi and dessert. Or if I’m home—my grandma is from Italy and I was raised in an Italian family—so I’d have to have some homemade lasagna. Let me tell you, I can out eat a lot of people. I surprise a lot of people for my size. I can definitely throw it back.
What excites you the most when thinking about competing in the 2014 Winter Games?
I fell short of my goal the last Olympics and I want to end up on the podium and leave knowing I did everything I could. I rode the best that I could, I was in the best shape I could be in, and I have no regrets. I’m just trying to keep pushing forward and progressing. Some people stress about the results, but for me it’s all good as long as you keep progressing. Whatever happens—happens. But I’m just excited to hopefully experience another Olympics and be fortunate enough to be a two-time Olympian. Because once you’re an Olympian you can never have that taken away.
You said if you weren’t an Olympic snowboarder, you would be in school. Studying what?
The main one would be communications. My dad owns a radio station and I like talking. I like being in front of a camera and I don’t get too nervous, so I think that would be easy for me to move forward with because I’ve been around it my whole life. I’m also interested in the whole business and marketing aspect of things. I think that stuff is really interesting.
You spent one season on Dancing with the Stars, so other than that show, which TV series do you watch?
Homeland, Sons of Anarchy, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Boardwalk Empire, 24. I’m also a huge Law & Order fan. I would love to be on a Law & Order episode, even if I’m a dead body.