If you've followed my writing on GeekMom.com, you already know that I'm a huge fan of the Winter X Games. With four kids, three of them risk seeking males, we have religiously watched the X Games for most of their childhood. We never dreamed we'd ever live close enough to go in person.
Immediately after we moved to Colorado, we looked up the dates and made plans to attend. I was able to go with a media pass, because of my connection with GeekMom, and it was an incredible four day weekend, full of great new memories.
We've now attended three years in a row, and I hope to be a regular for many years to come. There are many reasons why I love the X Games (which I've written about many times for GeekMom.com) and one of the big ones is the accessibility of the athletes. The path from the end of the Super Pipe, back to the snowmobile that takes athletes up the mountain, weaves through the crowd of excited fans. There is a lot of high fiving, a lot of selfies snapped. This even happens during the competition.
On the drive home this year I was formulating all the articles I'd be writing about X Games this year. And the one I was most excited about was this one: Why Louie Vito May Be The Nicest Guy at X Games.
Louie Vito is a rock star in the snowboarding world. He has earned just under 45 medals in major events, from as far back as 2006. The things he can do in that Super Pipe are no less than amazing. Like many of the professional athletes, Louie looks forward to X Games because of its relaxed mood. He competes just as hard, but he also spends a lot of energy hanging out with the crowds.
I first noticed it in 2013. Most of the athletes are willing to high five, or bump knuckles with the fans who line the fences, but Louie took it a step further. Anyone who asked (or hollered at him) was given the picture, signature, or even hug that they wanted. Watching the guy, you'd never know he was in the middle of a world class competition, just waiting for his next run.
Last year I had my son Sam with me. In the midst of Louie's schmoozing, I asked for a picture. Of course he obliged. We came home with this gem.
And again this year, Louie was in full hospitality mode. He chatted with fans, he took selfies, and he signed his name over and over. When an older gentleman handed him a cell phone, and asked him to talk to his wife, Louie didn't bat an eye. He chatted with her for a few minutes, and ended up asking her why she hadn't come to Aspen. All in good fun.
This year I got a series of pictures, of Louie doing what he does best. I had a chance to talk to him for a few minutes and told him I was going to write this article. He wasn't looking for the press. His answer was, "This is why we're here. If you don't love this part, there's no reason to be here." This is a guy who appreciates his fans and recognizes how they play into his career.
And finally I snapped a picture with Louie and me, and then Louie and my daughter. He flashed that genuine, huge Louie smile, then turned around and got back to 'his crowd.'
If I had the authority to hand out medals at the end of X Games, the first one I'd present would be a shiny gold one. It would be just one of many in Louie's collection, but I think it would be one of his most important ones. Engraved on it would be the words "Louie Vito - Nicest Guy At X Games".
See ya next year Louie. And hopefully many, many years after that.
Side Note: I'm keeping my eye on a young man named Scottie James, a boarder from Australia. He's talented, he's young, and he's good with the crowds. Watch out Louie, you might have a stiff competition for the Nicest Guy medal next year.
Here are a few more gems, of Louie, doing his thing, working the crowd, and even taking a picture of one of the other athletes with fans, graciously playing photographer. And in the end, signing my artificial leg for me. Nothing surprises this guy.