U.S. and Team Toyota athlete Louie Vito has been hitting the pipes of Summit County since just before Thanksgiving and battling through the recent cold snap, including a few days that were “very deep in the negatives.”
“You have to listen to your body when it’s cold out,” he said. “If you’re feeling stiff, you don’t want to wreck yourself. You need your body feeling good, get it moving around.”
Once the weather warmed up after practice runs early in the week, the conditions in the pipe improved.
“The pipe’s great,” Vito said. “I liked it; it got better and better. It’s a great pipe to start the year off on.”
Vito finished seventh in the men’s snowboard superpipe qualifying runs and climbed to fourth in the finals, just off the podium and two slots behind his second-place finish from Breckenridge last season. But it’s only the first competition of the year, he said, and he felt all right about his performance, “not horrible, not great.”
“I give myself maybe like a B,” he said. “You’ve got to step it up, and it’s the first contest for the year. I’m still climbing — I always want to be climbing — keep building off every contest and keep the momentum building forward.”
At the moment, Vito is spending a lot of his time between Copper and Breckenridge, mostly on the hill and relaxing when he can.
“I’ve been coming here for a long time,” he said. “I have a lot of friends here, and there’s great night life and great restaurants.”
The Dew Tour is the first Olympic qualifying event of the 2013-14 season for superpipe and slopestyle; the next is the USSA Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, which starts Monday, Dec. 16. Vito packed up his gear Sunday to move from his digs in Breckenridge to Copper.
After all of the qualifying events have come and gone, the top four athletes in each discipline will punch their tickets to Sochi, and Vito is working on positioning himself to make the cut, and return to the Olympics. Dew Tour gave him a run at the first contest of the year, and now, he’s looking ahead.
“It’s early, so good so far,” he said of his chance of making the Olympic team. “We went over there (Sochi) in February and it was a little warm, but hopefully it’ll get a little cold this winter.”
In the meantime, he’s taking it one competition at a time.
“Not putting too much pressure on myself, and that’s about it,” he said. “I’m always competing against myself.”