Louie Vito. It’s a name you’ll be hearing a lot more, so get used to it. Vito will be appearing this season on ABC’s primetime hit show Dancing With The Stars, which premiers September, 21st. His decision to forge into uncharted waters—a pro snowboarder dancing on TV—has drawn a bit of scrutiny from the snowboard community, but Louie’s not looking back, he has other things to focus on right now. In addition to his DWTS obligations, he’s making a push for the US Team and the winter Olympics in Vancouver this winter. In preparation for the upcoming contest season, Vito has been in down under for the last month working out new tricks. Last week at the New Zealand Open event, Vito revealed his newest trick—one never before done in competition—the frontside double-cork 1080º, ushering in what is sure to become the year of the double-cork spin. So yeah, Louie Vito has a lot going on. In a quick interview from New Zealand, he filled in some blanks. —Joel Muzzey
What are you calling that new double-cork? Or are there two new ones?
Danny [Kass] calls it the Double-Louie or the Screwy Louie, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t another double I may have for the first qualifier.
When did you learn it?
I learned it at Mount Hood. I was stoked because I didn’t have a foam pit or an airbag to learn them in, so I just had to just go for it and hope I made it around first try.
Were you stressed to throw it out there in the contest setting?
I like contest settings. You have the pressure of having to do it right then and there and your adrenaline gets going, but mostly I was just stoked to do it down here in New Zealand in cold, winter conditions.
Do you think a new trick like this will change your season?
First time done in a contest and the first person to do it. It was cool because it made people throw theirs [double-cork tricks] too and not save anything for next winter. Even though it’s a good trick to have, I think everyone who has it will still need to step up. Other people are going to learn them. That’s what makes the Olympic years so sick—people keeping pushing the level of riding and going further than anyone expected.
What does it feel like to double-cork in the pipe?
It was actually better than I thought—definitely scary! The main thing is making sure you’re fully committed and you don’t open up in between the flips. It’s cool because it feels different than it actually looks. I thought it might be more of a hucky trick but I think of it as if I’m doing a normal frontside seven.
How did you get the Dancing With The Stars thing going?
They contacted this agent and were looking for someone like me. I just had meniscus surgery last summer and was like, “Eh, what the hell? Let’s entertain this idea.” I went down to the interview and it went well, but I didn’t get it for that season. I think Misty May or someone got it instead. I didn’t really expect them to hit me back so soon. So I just said “Yes, yes, yes,” until I actually had it on paper, then went over everything and made a decision.
Were you scared the snowboard community would hate this?
Of course. I mean you get sh—t from people just for signing with an energy drink sponsor, or even just doing contests. I have haters and will always have haters, no matter what I do. But I don’t snowboard for anyone except myself. I don’t snowboard so everyone will like me. I just want to be me and that’s the best I can do, love it or hate it. Am I going to argue with someone that things [in snowboarding] should be done this way or that? At the end of the day, I have to do what I think is best for me. It’s hard to deny this show has cred—22 million viewers a week! At the end of the day, snowboarding is evolving into the mainstream one way or another, but what I do isn’t going to make the next snowboarder look a certain way. Snowboarding is my life more than a job or an image, I do it because I love it and nothing is going to stop me from having that be number one in my life. This [show] is a once in a lifetime opportunity and no matter how many people hate, most don’t have the balls to step up. I just hope I can wow the ladies!
Did anyone try to stop you from doing it?
No one really did. As long as it didn’t conflict with snowboarding, people were pretty hyped. I’m not gonna lie, I was a little surprised. Even other snowboarders were backing it, which was way different than what I thought would happen.
Are you gonna make loot doing the show?
Yeah, you get some money for doing the show, too. I’m not saying I’m doing it for the money, though. It just seems like a crazy experience and a good way to learn how to dance.
What are you looking forward to most about doing the show?
It’s going to be a whole new world. I mean, I can dance, or I think I can, but not like this kind of dance. It’s a new experience and challenge, but if I can do something that I don’t really have experience and confidence with in front of all those people and everyone watching, then doing a contest run or shooting a trick, which I know how to do and am confident in, that should be easy.
What are you dreading the most?
I tried to make a point that they aren’t going to make me wear any tights or sequins or anything. I’m sure I will wear something that I wouldn’t normally wear, but I kinda knew I couldn’t wear tee shirts and baggy jeans. Also those Latin dances have a lot of hip movement.
What do you have to say to your snowboard fans out there?
I think everybody out there should just sit back and enjoy it. Snowboard fans, go out and learn some Double-Louie flip or breakdance …