Vito finishes fourth in first Olympic qualifier

Louie Vito missed the podium, but he emerged from the first Olympic qualifier with a solid performance Saturday in Breckenridge, Colo., on Saturday.

Vito Dew12-2013

Louie Vito competes during the snowboarding superpipe final Saturday at the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championships in Breckenridge, Colo. (AP PHOTO | JULIE JACOBSON)

Vito finished fourth in the halfpipe competition in the Dew Tour iON Mountain Championship, which was the first of five U.S. Olympic qualifying stops leading up to the 2014 Sochi games.

Vito had a strong first run with a score of 88. He stood in second place going into the final set of runs.

Vito was unable to improve his score in his last run. Shaun White and Taylor Gold moved into the top three with big final runs to join Greg Bretz, who won with a 91.4.

White, who had not been defeated in the halfpipe since 2010, took second with a 90.4 and Gold was third with 89.6.

Bretz’s upset victory over White made waves in the snowboard community.

“Yeah, nine times out of 10, he might win,” said Vito about White in an Associated Press story. “But that one time, it could be at the Olympics, it could be anywhere, it could be today. It’s great for snowboarding.”

The second Olympic qualifier is next weekend. That comes with the first U.S. Grand Prix stop at Copper Mountain, Colo.

As many as four riders in the halfpipe will receive spots on the U.S. Olympic team. Rosters are expected to be announced after the final qualifier Jan. 22.