U.S. Olympic Snowboarders Happily Get Off

Tom BurkeCorrespondent IAugust 11, 2009

Snowboarders who shred on the pristine slopes of majestic mountains rack up a natural high, for sure. Walking away boosted after a day of boarding, they hit the nightclub scene to imbibe the night away. Such is the life of a boarder: stomp, party, repeat.


This “utopic” cycle was recently interrupted for a pair of U.S. Snowboarding team members who confronted jail time and fines in New Zealand. 


As publicized all over the web, twenty-somethings Danny Kass and Louie Vito are believed to the boarders who were nabbed with pot in their vehicle, while training in this country.


As a quick recap of what went down, these athletes were pulled over on Saturday, Aug. 1 evening by New Zealand cops, who are notorious for their strictness, as part of a roadside check.


Here the troopers spotted marijuana in this party van that was conspicuously painted with a shark’s jaws on its front. As rumored, Kass indicated to the arresting officer that he was given this stash by a hitchhiker as a thank you. Whatever!


Despite this rationale, the boarders were arrested for possession, facing fines and/or jail time.  These charges had far-reaching implications. 


Not only would their travels and Winter Olympics training be disrupted, but their lives were hanging in the balance by a no-nonsense court system. 


Furthermore, the pair’s Olympic hopes were in jeopardy, too...especially if they were found guilty.  Remember Michael Phelps’ suspension by USA Swimming?


Fortunately, they were offered a “diversion” by the police: a way to get off from a court hearing where the judge would decide on their fate. 


Because the amount confiscated was less than one ounce per person, these two first-time offenders willingly agreed to this deal that required them only to make a donation to a New Zealand charity.


And because this payment was made, their records are now cleared, as if never being arrested.  And fortunately, their names are being suppressed from the public record by the Judge, compliments of laws that permit this privacy.


Now a more daunting issue faces the pair: whether they’ll be yanked-off the Olympic Team by the suspiciously quiet U.S. Snowboarding organization.