X Games Queen Bleiler Flying Higher
This year’s Winter X Games, which run Thursday through Sunday in Aspen, Colo., will be a showcase for the progress female action sports athletes have made in the genre.
That’s why you’ll see a lot of halfpipe queen Gretchen Bleiler, Winter X gold medal winner in 2003 and 2005 and a silver medalist on the 2006 Olympic pipe.
The Aspen native already has captured a first: This month she became the first female extreme sports athlete to appear on the cover of ESPN Magazine.
“She’s the Gwen Stefani of snowboarding,” says Ron Semiao, the ESPN executive who developed the then-radical idea of an alternative sports festival in 1993.
“She’s a great talent as well as an icon of style and fashion.”
Bleiler, 26, says she’s flattered by the comparison with the rock and fashion superstar.
“I love her music and her style,” she says.
“That’s quite a compliment.”
She’s following in Stefani’s fashionable footsteps: Bleiler helped design her new signature Oakley line of clothing and gear that will hit retail stores this year.
A tireless advocate in the battle against global warming — “I’m a snowboarder and we need the snow!” — she’s especially proud of the line’s eco-friendly products made from recycled materials.
Bleiler is also working with the Women’s Sports Foundation to open opportunities for other female athletes and is hosting an all-female halfpipe contest in Aspen in April that will also help emerging riders hone their self-marketing skills.
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