Nike will drop part 2 of their self-titled Snowboarding Project any minute now, so we took the opportunity to hit up Louie Vito, get the dirt on the edit and grill him on, amongst other things, the upcoming Olympics and if pipe triples are on the cards…
Chapter 2 is centred on the hammers that got thrown down at the Nike Chosen Sessions last winter, where the whole team rolled into Montafon for a week of sending it in the most elaborate park setup we’ve ever seen, had fun with Phantom cams in the valley and had ‘issues’ with the Austrian authorities. We had a word with Louie to find out more.
You’re best known for your pipe riding. How was it for you to be let loose on that insane park setup for a couple of weeks?
It was super fun. People only see me riding mostly half pipe stuff but I love riding everything and I can ride everything. So to have a sick park set up just for us to session was dope. Plus having a lot of the team there made it even better.
How often do you get to ride with all the other dudes on the team, and if it’s not that often how was it for you to get to hang and shred with all the crew?
I get to see a lot of the Nike team who do contests quite a bit throughout the winter. But most of them who film I don’t get to see as much. I had a good time riding with Austin Smith all week, Danny [Kass] is always fun and I got a day with Nico [Müller] too which was cool.
For you, do you think it’s important for a team to get together and hang from time to time?
I think having the team get together and riding fun features, filming and just having a good time is super important. I mean getting together for meetings is cool but I at least like riding with everyone the most. Everyone rides different so it’s easy to push yourself while having a good time.
Being that the park was so full of hits this may be hard, but did you have a certain feature you particularly enjoyed hitting?
To be honest, I liked the unique features – the half pipe wall to jump landing, the bowl set up with wall rides and rails, the jump over the lift cables, and of course doing snake runs through the curvy mini pipe. It is hard to pick just one.
Which other riders, or even sessions, particularly blew you away in Montafon?
Peetu [Piiroinen] rode well, and so did Ethan [Morgan], Kevin [Backström], and Jamie [Nicholls]. Austin and I cruised together for most of the week which was fun since I never get the chance to ride with him during the winter.
Can you give us the definitive story as to why poor Austin found himself incarcerated by the Austrian Polizei?
Well, Bobby [Meeks - Nike honcho] seemed to have forgotten to pay for Austin’s gas for his car when we were driving to check out some castles for the day. Bobby paid, got us all snacks, and the lady even came out to the car because she forgot to charge him for something. A little ways down the road there was a cop standing in the middle of the road directing traffic. The car I was in with Bobby got waved on to keep moving while Austin’s car got motioned to pull over. That’s when all the pieces came together. We had to go to the Polizei station while Bobby and Austin talked to the cops, then we had to drive BACK to the gas station and pay, and then BACK to another Polizei Station. A lot of driving in a small area and we never made it to the castles, BUT we didn’t lose Austin to jail!
Danny Kass has an amusing bit at the end of the edit being told off by an angry Austrian. No one said this interview would be easy, so sum up Danny in one word.
One word is HARD, but… Entertaining.
Switching things up now, the road to Sochi begins in ernest this season. Will you be trying to secure a spot on the US team again? If so why is the Olympics important to you?
Yeah, I will be trying again for a spot on the US Team. I have always wanted to go to the Olympics growing up. As a contest rider it’s the biggest contest, media and exposure wise, that we can do. I made the Olympics in 2010 but fell just short of my goal of getting a medal. I want an Olympic Medal.
What motivates you to continue concentrate on pipe rather than, say, moving into filming a part?
First, I love doing contests. I love the pressure and I love the fact you have to do it right then and there. Second, Danny [Kass] told me this a few years ago and it stuck with me – I have always looked up to Danny because he is someone who could ride everything, film, and go win a contest. He definitely has helped me out a lot – He told me to ride the contest train while I could. There is plenty of time to film after. And it’s true. Contests are working for me right now, my body can take the toll that it puts on you. Maybe when I’m a little older and get over riding icy half pipes I’ll go film some pow stuff. Right now I am happy with what I am doing, and in snowboarding, that’s all that matters.
How much do you hate Shaun White? But seriously, how hard is it to compete against that guy, and what do you think it would take to wrestle that gold medal off him?
Hate is a strong word, and I don’t hate Shaun. Shaun is good, real good. But he pushes people to ride better when he is at the contest. He is consistent so when he is there, you know you have to be on point. I won’t be wrestling any medal off of him, he earned his first 2 and will have to work for another one too just like everyone else.
Finally, triple corks have entered snowboarding’s kicker lexicon. Do you think such a trick is possible in the pipe, and would you even want to go there if it was?
I think it’s a super risky trick in half pipe especially having to land perpendicular to a vertical half pipe wall and a gnarly, icy coping. But never say never, it could happen. I am just going with the flow and seeing where that takes me.