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Category: Winter Dew Tour

Snowboarder Louie Vito lands Toyota sponsorship for Winter Dew Tour

Vito

Toyota has announced its official sponsorship of snowboarder Louie Vito for the 2011 Winter Dew Tour. Vito joins U.S. Women’s Olympic team snowboarder Elena Hight and top freeskier Simon Dumont on Toyota’s roster of sponsored Winter Dew athletes this season.

Vito, 22, won in the first event of this season's Winter Dew Tour, the Nike 6.0 Open, at Breckenridge, Colo., in December. While Vito also represented the U.S. in the halfpipe competition at the 2010 Winter Olympics, where he finished fifth, he may be most recognized by some for participating on Season 9 of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" in 2009.

Hight, Dumont, and Vito will be signing autographs in the Toyota tent in Festival Village at the remaining two stops of the tour --  Killington, Vt., taking place Thursday through Sunday, and the Toyota Championships,  Feb. 10-13 in Ogden, Utah.

In its fourth season as a founding partner of the Winter Dew Tour, Toyota also announced it will be offering athletes and fans free rides from shuttle stops in and around the Winter Dew Tour host resorts to any desired location, within a set distance, helping to keep fans from trekking in the snow.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Louie Vito competes in the men's snowboarding finals at the Winter Dew Tour 6.0 Open. Credit: Alli Sports

Winter Dew Tour champions to be crowned this weekend

Mammoth Lakes' Tyler Flanagan, 16, competes in the men's snowboarding slopestyle event during the second stop of the Winter Dew Tour in Breckenridge, Colo.

The second season of the Winter Dew Tour will culminate this weekend when top Tour athletes converge at Mt. Snow in West Dover, Vt., for the Toyota Championship, taking place Thursday through Saturday.

Featuring men’s and women’s snowboarding in both slopestyle and superpipe, and men's freeskiing in both slopestyle and superpipe, the competition for a portion of the $1.5-million purse is sure to be exciting -- and close.

Two of the disciplines -- men's skiing slopestyle and women's snowboarding slopestyle -- have ties in the point standings for the top competitors.

And two 16-year olds, Tyler Flanagan of Mammoth Lakes and Sage Kotsenberg of Park City, Utah, have only 20 points separating them in their quest for the Dew Cup title in men's snowboarding slopestyle.

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Shaun White or Kevin Pearce: Who will win Olympic gold in 2010?

Whitemug1

I flew home from Aspen last night on the same plane with Shaun White and I'll say this: He looks downright ridiculous trying to mask his identity by tucking his long, red locks into a knit ski cap and wearing gold-rimmed glasses.

But the star snowboarder from Carlsbad (pictured above), with two new X Games medals in his luggage, deserved some peace and quiet after a long night of celebration.

That said, here are some perceptions gleaned from the X Games, looking forward to the Vancouver Olympics next winter:

-- Snowboard superpipe: White or Kevin Pearce will win Olympic gold if both Burton riders remain healthy leading to the Games. Pearce has become White's nemesis and many in the press tent thought Pearce, not White, deserved the X Games gold medal. Pearce claimed the silver.

-- Snowboard superpipe women: There'll be no U.S. sweep. Australia's Torah Bright, winner of X Games gold, is too technically sound and her Cab 720 is a trick few men can pull off. Bright and Kelly Clark look like winners. Olympic gold medalist Hannah Teter needs lots of practice and some new tricks to have any chance of repeating. Gretchen Bleiler, the 2006 silver medalist, was ailing during the X Games and took a nasty fall. She expects to contend for Olympic gold.

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Shaun White, Kelly Clark post impressive snowboarding victories at Mount Snow

Shaun White performs in flight during the slopestyle finals.

It might be too early to start thinking seriously about the 2010 Winter Olympics. But those Games are in the back of every top snowboarder's mind, and every big competition this winter and early next winter will serve as a barometer for the athletes and coaches.

So if the Winter Dew Tour is an indication, the gold-medal favorites are Shaun White of Carlsbad and Kelly Clark of Mammoth Lakes.

Both were victorious Sunday in the superpipe competitions at Mount Snow, Vt. -- and both now have a victory and second-place finish after two Winter Dew Tour events.

(White also has a first and second in the slopestyle competition, which is not an Olympic sport.)

White's dizzying winning run included a backside rodeo 720, a backside 900 and back-to-back 1080s into a 720. He finished with an alley-oop rodeo and earned a score of 96.25.

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Shaun White, Danny Davis? Kelly Clark also in snowboarding spotlight

Kelly Clark soars above the superpipe wall en route to a second-place finish in the inaugural Winter  Dew Tour competition last month at Breckenridge, Colo.

The inaugural Winter Dew Tour resumes today with its second of three events and will run through the weekend at Mount Snow, Vermont.

The brightest spotlight will shine on the men's snowboard superpipe competition Sunday, as 2006 Olympic gold medalist Shaun White tries to improve after finishing second at the last Dew Tour event to 2010 Olympic hopeful Danny Davis.

But considerable attention will be on the women's snowboard superpipe competition, also Sunday, and specifically on Kelly Clark (pictured).

Clark, 25, was  born in Rhode Island but grew up in Vermont, and her home mountain is Mount Snow. Her parents, Terry and Cathy, own T.C.'s Family Restaurant in West Dover, and on display inside is Clark's gold medal from the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Clark will enjoy community support and be among the favorites to win. She's off to a strong start this season, with a victory in the first Grand Prix event and a second-place finish, behind Gretchen Bleiler, in the last Dew Tour contest.

But Clark said in an interview that it's not about winning or losing -- yet. It's about fine-tuning her tricks and psyche so she'll be peaking a year from now -- at the Vancouver Olympics.

"I've been through it twice already so I know where my snowboarding is going to have to be and how I'm going to have to be prepared mentally and physically," she said. "So I'm moving toward that more than anything in the short term."

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