Olympics: Gretchen Bleiler Interview


Gretchen Bleiler, 28, won silver in the women’s halfpipe in Turin in 2006, but it turns out 2010 isn’t her year in the Olympics–she wound up 11th in Vancouver, after tumbling into the pipe. She’s not dwelling on the loss, though. Bleiler will go right back into working on her moves for the next big thing. Outside Online caught up with the snowboarder after her halfpipe comp in Vancouver.

–Aileen Torres

You won the X Games this year. How did that affect you going into the Olympics?
Winningthe X Games in my hometown right before the Olympics was a hugeconfidence booster. The run that won it was one of the best runs I’veever had, and it felt great knowing that all of my hard work,visualization, and techniques were coming together at just the righttime.

What did you think of your performance in Vancouver?
Ironically, the day of X Games finals, I started having problems with mysignature trick, the Crippler 720. I was throwing it differently, and itwasn’t coming around correctly. I also got sick, so I didn’t get a lotof practice in before the Olympics. With the condition of the pipe, wehad only one good night of practice at the Olympic venue, and I spent mostof that practice working only on that trick, which I never really got!So, as you can imagine, it was really frustrating going into my Olympicday of competition not knowing if I could pull off a trick that’s beenso easy for me for the past year and a half and the trick that sets meapart from all other riders. It wasn’t until my last run in finals where I totally surrendered to any doubts and totally trusted in my muscle memory,and I sent it! I landed the trick but came out of it with more speedthan I was prepared for going into the next wall, and because of that Igot over excited and left early on my Cab 7, which caused me to deck outand fall, unfortunately. So of course I was bummed because I was havinga really great run–but I also had a feeling of satisfaction knowingthat I had overcome a big head game that day by finally believing inmyself and getting through that Crippler 720.

What tricks were you hoping to pull out?
That second run was shaping up to be one of my best runs. Idid a Frontside 9 on the first hit to Backside 540 to Crippler 720 to Cab 720, and after that trick I only had one hit left and it was amandatory straight air. So I had gotten through all of my hard tricks!

You won silver in 2006. How do you feel about missing the podium in 2010?
It was my goal to land my perfect run at Cypress and win the gold medal. On a night where a lot of girls were playing it safe, I really feltlike I went for it, and I’m proud of myself for that. Of course, I wouldhave loved to have that gold medal, but sometimes it’s not always aboutthe hardware but what you put into it.

What did you like best about Vancouver? Any favorite hangouts?
Westayed at a house in West Vancouver that was right next to this amazingpark called Light House Park. The paths take you through a gorgeousforest with streams and huge ferns covering the ground. Eventually youwind up on top of these big boulders overlooking the ocean. It was sobeautiful and a good escape.

What’s your focus for your next big competition?
Atthis point, I think my goals need to be focused around tricks and notnecessarily results. I would love to do–and know I’m capable of–Front10s, Back 9s, and Cab 9s. I want to keep snowboarding as long as I’mstill having fun and progressing my riding.