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Louie Vito is competing in the Winter Olympics 2010 in Vancouver in snowboarding. Previously, Louie Vito was also one of the celebrity contestants on Season 9 of ABC's ballroom competition, "Dancing with the Stars."

One of the U.S.' elite snowboarders on the 2010 Olympic team, Louie Vito competes in both the Pipe and Slopestyle disciplines. He turned pro in 2006 and has competed in multiple Winter X-Games competitions. Louie Vito is also a two-time winner of the USSA Grand Prix Halfpipe Series.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Vito's first exposure to skiing and snowboarding was at a 300-foot hill located five minutes from his childhood house (traversing the hill "was like ten minutes up, ten seconds down," he recalls). Vito's father (also named Louie) started snowboarding at the same time, so the two would make snowboarding trips together. "It was pretty cool because he loved snowboarding just as much as I did," Vito says. "So I didn't have to ask him twice to go on a trip to go snowboarding." To this day, Louie Sr.'s passion for the sport has continued to go strong. "He comes out to a lot of the competitions and you know, it's funny," Vito says. "He comes to the competitions to watch me. But a lot of times I don't know where he is and he's riding twice as long as I'm riding every single day."

By the time this past summer turned to autumn, it's safe to say that most Olympic hopefuls were shifting their complete focus to snow and ice in preparation for Vancouver. Consider Vito something of an exception. Before he could turn his full attention to qualifying for the U.S. Olympic halfpipe team, there was another obstacle standing in his way: ballroom dancing. In September 2009, the 21 year old made his debut on "Dancing with the Stars." Among the other athletes on the show alongside Vito were 11-time Olympic swimming medalist Natalie Coughlin, UFC fighter Chuck Liddell and former NFL star Michael Irvin. Five-time Olympic short track speed skating medalist Apolo Ohno won the competition in 2007.

A key moment in Vito's career took place in eighth grade, when he moved from Ohio to Vermont's Stratton Mountain School (the alma mater of, among others, 2002 Olympic halfpipe champion Ross Powers). "I think that's when I was like: You know, people really actually have faith in me. I can start doing this maybe for a living," Vito says. He adds that the setup at Stratton had elements that pleased both his parents. "I mean my mom let me go because it has a great academics, way better school than I probably would have gotten anywhere in Ohio," he says. "And then my dad liked it because you had really good coaches, you could travel."

When a trio of U.S. snowboarders (Powers, Danny Kass and J.J. Thomas) swept the medals in men's halfpipe at the 2002 Salt Lake Games, Vito was there—as a 13-year-old spectator. And the experience undoubtedly played a vital role in his aspirations to become an Olympian. "Just to be there and see the vibe and feel it, you know, it's the Olympics. Not very many people get to go to the Olympics and actually feel it. And then I just think about what if I'm in. You know, I want to get that feeling; to be in it not just to watch it, [but] have people watching me in the Olympics."

Though he's just 21, Vito's history with snowboarding calamity is extensive. "I snapped my femur in half when I was fourteen or fifteen. Broke my wrist and re-broke that," the 5'5" Vito says matter-of-factly. "Sliced my head open. Did my meniscus last year. Ride with pretty much always something's aching on me. I had a hurt ankle this year." But often it's not the injury itself that Vito finds most difficult, but the anticipation of it. "I think it's more scary even when you don't get hurt, but just every time you hit a jump or in the halfpipe you know you're going to land on the deck or hit the lip and bounce. That's the most scary because you don't know what's going to happen. You're like: Alright, this is going to hurt. I just know that."




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LOUIE VITO: FACTS

How tall is Louie Vito? How old is Louie Vito? Where does Louie Vito live? Find out here.

Age: 26 years old
Birthday: March 20, 1988
Height: 5' 5"
Weight: 155 lbs.
Birthplace: Bellefontaine, OH
Current Residence: Sandy, UT





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SEE ALL VANCOUVER 2010 WINTER OLYMPICS NEWS


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