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.
You won the X Games this year. How did that affect you going into the Olympics?
Winning the X Games in my hometown right before the Olympics was a huge confidence booster. The run that won it was one of the best runs I’ve ever had, and it felt great knowing that all of my hard work, visualization, and techniques were coming together at just the right time.
What did you think of your performance in Vancouver?
Ironically, the day of X Games finals, I started having problems with my signature trick, the Crippler 720. I was throwing it differently, and it wasn’t coming around correctly. I also got sick, so I didn’t get a lot of practice in before the Olympics. With the condition of the pipe, we had only one good night of practice at the Olympic venue, and I spent most of that practice working only on that trick, which I never really got! So, as you can imagine, it was really frustrating going into my Olympic day of competition not knowing if I could pull off a trick that’s been so easy for me for the past year and a half and the trick that sets me apart 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 speed than I was prepared for going into the next wall, and because of that I got over excited and left early on my Cab 7, which caused me to deck out and fall, unfortunately. So of course I was bummed because I was having a really great run–but I also had a feeling of satisfaction knowing that I had overcome a big head game that day by finally believing in myself 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. I did 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 a mandatory 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 felt like I went for it, and I’m proud of myself for that. Of course, I would have loved to have that gold medal, but sometimes it’s not always about the hardware but what you put into it.
What did you like best about Vancouver? Any favorite hangouts?
We stayed at a house in West Vancouver that was right next to this amazing park called Light House Park. The paths take you through a gorgeous forest with streams and huge ferns covering the ground. Eventually you wind up on top of these big boulders overlooking the ocean. It was so beautiful and a good escape.
What’s your focus for your next big competition?
At this point, I think my goals need to be focused around tricks and not necessarily results. I would love to do–and know I’m capable of–Front 10s, Back 9s, and Cab 9s. I want to keep snowboarding as long as I’m still having fun and progressing my riding.
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