Louie Vito hopes to stand out after missing Olympics

Louie Vito
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Louie Vito said the best snowboarding of his career came last winter, even though he did not make the Sochi Olympic halfpipe team.

“I was putting down runs [in Olympic selection events] that people had never done before, tricks people had never done in certain spots,” Vito said.

The ultimate opinion in halfpipe belongs to judges. They did not share Vito’s point of view.

“It seemed like whatever I did,” Vito said, “I couldn’t get any love on it.”

Vito, who finished fifth at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics at 21 years old, couldn’t crack the top four U.S. riders over a series of selection events leading into Sochi.

Shaun White, Danny Davis (Vito’s roommate from their Stratton Mountain School days), Greg Bretz (a longtime Vito friend) and Taylor Gold went to Russia. Vito went to Chicago and did some riding of his own with a night skyline backdrop along Lake Michigan.

He didn’t watch the Sochi halfpipe final live. No American won a medal for the first time in Olympic history (dating to 1998).

“I had what it took to make the team,” Vito said. “I think I would’ve ridden well in Sochi because the tricks I do, I can land any time anywhere. You put me in a crappy pipe that’s going to be scary, and I’ll put something down. That’s taking nothing away from the Team USA guys.”

Vito later viewed highlights, focused on the Americans and also what kind of runs earned medals.

“It comes back down to what the judges were into,” Vito said, echoing his thoughts from the Vancouver final and the Olympic selection events. “I felt like I could’ve put something down to make it a competitive run. I can’t say where it would’ve landed me.”

Vito earned vindication one week after the Sochi Olympic team was named. He took second at the Winter X Games, his best-ever finish at the event*.

“That helped me make sense of everything,” Vito said. “Keep on riding the way I want to ride.”

Vito plans on riding for a while longer, perhaps to 2018 and beyond. All while continuing his away-from-competition ventures.

The former “Dancing with the Stars” contestant hosts a rail jam event for young riders in his native Ohio in December and will take part in the Wings for Life World Run for a second straight year on May 3. (Vito logged 13 miles before a chase car caught him at last year’s run, which was two miles more than Lolo Jones and 4.5 miles more than Mark McMorris.)

His next halfpipe season starts at the Dew Tour Mountain Championships in Breckenridge, Colo., in three weeks.

“I went back to the drawing board a little bit [after missing Sochi], not in the sense of figuring out the next greatest trick in the world, but in differentiating yourself from the rest of the field,” Vito said.

*Clarification: Vito also owns two gold medals from the European Winter X Games.

Mikaela Shiffrin finishes 15th, 16th in super-Gs in Colorado

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde
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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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