Louie Vito nearly pulled off an improbable trip to the Olympic finals in the snowboard halfpipe competition Wednesday.
At the age of 33 and the second- oldest competitor in the 24-rider field, Vito missed qualifying for the finals by one spot during the qualification runs in Beijing.
The Bellefontaine native turned in a clean opening run and sat 10th entering the second and final run during the qualifying round, which finished in the early morning hours here Wednesday.
With the top 12 riders advancing to today’s finals, Vito was unable to land his second run and had to play a waiting game to see if his first run score would hold up.
Vito was clinging to the 12th qualifying spot with one rider remaining. That was American Chase Josey, who avenged a poor first run with a strong second effort to move into the top 12 and push Vito out of a finals berth.
It was an Olympic return 12 years in the making for Vito, who placed fifth at the Vancouver Games while competing for Team USA in 2010.
This time, he competed as a member of the Italian team, choosing to honor his Italian ancestors.
Vito’s future in the sport is uncertain as he said recently that he was taking it “one day at a time.”
He has enjoyed a longevity that few in the halfpipe world have experienced. Many of the riders at Beijing are in their teens.