Louie Vito will be blogging from the Winter Olympics in Vancouver for PEOPLE. Today, the snowboarder – and Dancing With the Stars competitor – reflects on the luge racer’s death and talks about two of his own teammates who were seriously injured. Check back for more updates as Vito prepares for his competition Wednesday.
The crash just shows how dangerous some of those sports are. In snowboarding you face it. It was a reality check. You don’t take anything for granted because you never know when it could be taken away. How do you react? I think his team wants to show their support and love for another countryman, but at the same time they want to go out that much faster and go that much better for him.
I keep my friends in my head. (Snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a severe head injury in a practice run and teammate Danny Davis was hurt in an ATV accident; both are not competing in the Olympics). They wouldn’t want you to be sulking and thinking about them. They want you to ride harder and better and carry on for them and do it for them in a sense. It’s hard. But it’s not that I’m now scared. It’s hard when you ride with them every day, they’re pushing you and helping you progress, and now they’re not there.
At the opening ceremonies I stuck together with (teammates Scotty) Lago and Shaun (White). It was crazy, I mean, it was weird. At first, everyone’s sitting in a hall, kind of chilling, and they’re playing music. The big screen is on and they’re giving you 30 minutes warning, and then 10 minutes warning. You hear Canada chanting, then the whole US team starting chanting, “U-S-A.” As soon as you enter the stadium, it’s so loud, everyone’s screaming your country’s name. It was really kind of like: You are at the Olympics now. That was the moment.