Louie Vito
Monday February 15th, 2010

U.S. snowboarder Louie Vito, a first-time Olympian, will be in checking in with SI.com's Cory McCartney throughout the Games to offer an inside view of the sights and sounds in Vancouver.

• [Being here] is crazy. It hasn't fully hit me, and I don't know if it will, because you're always just looking at what's around you. Being in the [Olympic] village was super-cool; we stayed in the village the first couple nights and it was cool going to the dining hall and seeing people from all the other countries wearing their gear, and you've got on your Team USA stuff.

• That opening ceremony was wild. You walk into that stadium and it was like 'Boom! Here you are at the Olympics.' You have the whole stadium cheering for you, cheering for your country, the fake snow falling. The ceremony was amazing.

• [The death of Georgia luger Nodar Kumaritashvili] is a reality check for athletes in any sport. You can't take anything for granted; you could be here one day, and be taken away the next. It's such a tragic loss, especially coming on the day of the opening ceremonies. I didn't know him specifically, but you know everybody [here] is so excited to be at the Olympics; they've made it a life goal and they're obviously the best in their country. It's definitely hard, but for me and for the halfpipe riders, if it happened to one of us, we all know that [we would] send our respects to the family and the country; but at the same time, he's an athlete and he would want his countrymen and his friends just to go that much harder and do that much better.

• We've moved to our halfpipe house now. It's nice to kind of get away from all the craziness of the village and be tucked away and have just your halfpipe team with you, and to be able to come downstairs and sit on the couch and chill and not have everyone around you. I like being able to wake up and go down and eat. We have an awesome cook named Flower. It's nice to have a family vibe back, with the coaches and the halfpipe team together.

• It feels like a normal contest, which is what I want it to feel like. I want to get done what I need to get done and then enjoy the whole Olympic experience, kind of backstage-style, an athlete walking around the village.

• We have our first practice [Sunday] and the pipe's looking good. You can't really think about [the weather], because you can't control it, it's not in your hands. The people that are building [the halfpipe], you know they're going to do their best because this is the Olympics and if it's challenging, it's challenging. We're all used to that. Every contest we go to, it's a different kind of halfpipe and there's different challenges in any weather. It's just something that we constantly deal with all season long and this isn't any different. If they make it challenging, they make it challenging. That's just part of snowboarding.

Got a question for Louie? Send an e-mail here and we'll have him answer the best reader question in his next entry.

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