Bleiler ramps down halfpipe to explore 'new territory'

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenDecember 8, 2010
On the eve of the opening to the U.S. Halfpipe Grand Prix tour, Olympian Gretchen Bleiler announced a move as big as her signature crippler 720 and one that wlll turn heads from Aspen all the way down to Australia.
Gretchen Bleiler at the Vancouver Olympics.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

“... I've decided to eliminate most of the halfpipe competitions from my schedule this season,” she wrote in a blog on ESPN W yesterday. “... Competing in the halfpipe is what I know and love, and what I've been great at for the past 10 years, which is exactly why it's time to forge into this new territory.”

She kept the “new territory” she will explore vague.

“It's time to learn and time to grow. Seeing snowboarding differently, seeing the mountain differently, and riding with creativity and style -- that's my new goal,” she wrote. “And the steps I'll take to get there will be riding more than ever, pushing myself more than ever and learning more than ever. It kind of looks like it's time to bring it back to the way it all began for me, and I'm really excited.”

A four-time winner of the Winter X Games halfpipe competition and a silver medalist at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy, Bleiler has been a bedazzling pioneer of the sport in the decade she's been riding pro.

She wrote that she has accomplished “almost every single one” of her athletic goals. But then she noted (in parentheses) that “there is one result” that she has “not yet attained.” She didn't name it.

“That's another blog altogether!” she wrote (again, in parentheses).

Bleiler at the Olympics in Torino.
Getty Images

Her blog — titled “Creativity Over Competition: A Year of Change” — is the first in what will be a series of them for the new women's sports site ESPN W. Presumably she will reveal the one accolade she is chasing in a future blog.

That is, if the press doesn't get it out of her first. The U.S. snowboarding team's 2010/2011 season debuts today in Copper Mountain. Bleiler is expected to face Kelly Clark and Torah Bright in the Grand Prix halfpipe.

“I'm a little uncomfortable, and a little scared, but that just means I'm on the right path … a path that might just lead me to that one last elusive achievement, too,” Bleiler wrote of her reasoning to cut out many of the other halfpipe competitions from her schedule this winter.

In calculating her decision, she explained she was at a similar crossroads in high school when she decided to forgo college and become a professional snowboarder instead of a student.

That worked out pretty well for her.

Will this?

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