CosmoGirl Online tells readers “Why Olympian Gretchen Bleiler is Unstoppable”
This year, the Playtex Sport brand is launching the “Be Unstoppable” movement – a celebration of physical activity that inspires others to be unstoppable, shines the spotlight on women and girls in active moments and shows how they can exude confidence with every move they make, every day. Part of that movement is Olympian snowboarder, Gretchen Bleiler who was kind enough to give CG her very best tips for being fierce, strong and confident!
Cosmogirl: Talk about your passion for snowboarding and when you first started?
Gretchen Bleiler: When I was 10 years old my family moved from Ohio to Aspen, Colorado.In Aspen, I went to a school where every Wednesday during the winter, we got a half-day off to go up on the mountain. I grew up with three brothers and at the time, both of my older brothers were snowboarders. I was a tomboy who always used to follow them around and try to do whatever they were doing. So, one of those Wednesday’s, I decided to learn how to snowboard with a bunch of my friends. I had a great instructor who told me I was a natural and I was hooked! I loved the free spirit of snowboarding. At that time snowboarding was still relatively new and not even considered a sport, but just a trend that people thought would die off over time but that sure didn’t happen!
CG: Describe the feeling of being in the Olympics.
GB: Being an Olympian was a childhood dream. I remember watching the Olympics on TV when I was younger and being so inspired by the overall movement. Growing up with brothers, I’ve always been a very competitive person and also very involved in sports. So when I was younger, whatever sport I was involved in, I wanted to go to the Olympics for that! I’m so grateful that it was snowboarding that took me there. And I’ve definitely had to earn my success all along the way, which has made this journey all the more meaningful and satisfying. I learned so many valuable life lessons that when I got to the Olympics, (both times!) I was ready physically, spiritually and emotionally and able to totally enjoy the moment. There’s nothing like representing your country on the world’s largest stage! It’s great to see so many strong women in one place – it’s important for us to help the next generation reach their full physical potential and stay active.
CG: Did anyone ever try to discourage you from getting into snowboarding? How did you overcome that?
GB: When you choose to take the road less traveled, it can sometimes be a bumpy ride along the way but if you’re doing it for the right reasons then the reward is so GREAT. When I was a senior in High School, I made one of the riskiest and toughest decisions when I decided to defer a year from college and take the year to see how far I could take my snowboarding. All of my friends were going to college right away, like I had always planned on doing, and snowboarding wasn’t this crazy lucrative sport so it was definitely a risk. But deep down I knew that I had a chance to do what I loved and to make a big impact. That fall, I stayed back at home and worked at a local bakery to make some money before the snow fell, while all of my friends went off to experience their first year of college. During that time, I definitely had my doubts about the decision I had made but that winter I had a great season and was invited to join the US Snowboard Team; that’s when I knew I had made the right decision and that it always pays to follow your heart!
CG: Did you ever feel that you had to prove yourself because you’re a girl?
GB: When I first started snowboarding there weren’t a lot of girl riders on the hill. I used to wear this ugly brown jacket that was way too big because that was the look that everyone on the hill was wearing, and most everyone on the hill was a guy! I felt like I had to look like a guy and ride like a guy to get respect and totally felt like I had something to prove. When you have that fire, it can be very powerful but the sooner you learn that you’re the most powerful and effective when you’re doing things your way and with confidence in who you truly are the more satisfied and happy you will be!
CG: What is your advice to girls that want to go against the grain and follow an unexpected path?
GB: In life, when I have taken the biggest risks I’ve ended up with the greatest rewards. As long you are doing what you love and making decisions from the heart, you will be successful.
CG: How did you get involved with the Be Unstoppable Movement? What about you is unstoppable
GB: I partnered with Playtex Sport in order to help launch their “Be Unstoppable Movement.” I really connected with this movement because it’s all about celebrating physical activity and shining the spotlight on women and girls in active moments and the confidence that comes with those moments. I’ve also been a member of the Women’s Sports Foundation Athlete Advisory Panel since 2008 and I love that the Be Unstoppable movement’s initiatives give back to this great organization. I consider myself unstoppable because I set goals for myself that keep me motivated, allowing me to keep pushing to meet the challenges in front of me. Girls who want to get involved and “join the movement” can visit the Playtex Sport Facebook page and create a photo mosaic on the Playtex Sport Facebook page, triggering a $1 donation to the Women’s Sports Foundation in support of programs that nurture healthy, active and confident girls.
CG: Who do you surround yourself with for support and motivation?
GB: Surrounding yourself with active, passionate, energetic and positive role models, friends and family is so important in life! I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of all of my friends, family and sponsors who have encouraged, supported, cheered and shared their knowledge and experiences with me along the way. Having a support team also helps keep things bigger than just you and holds you accountable with your goals.
CG: How do you bring yourself out of a rut? What do you do to push yourself on the days you need it?
GB: Setting goals, both for the long term and short term, act as a lighthouse on dark stormy days! Everyone goes through hard times but when you have goals, they serve as your guiding light to keep you heading in the right direction. So even on those days when you don’t want to move forward, you have a reason to do it anyway!
CG: What is your advice for our readers in need of a self esteem boost?
GB: Everyone has their own unique set of gifts and talents and it’s when you start living and embracing those gifts and talents, no matter what they are, that things just seem to feel good and you have great energy and you start attracting that same great energy to you wherever you go and wherever you are. It’s great that programs like the “Be Unstoppable” movement exist so girls can feel like they’re part of a community and can feel confident in their abilities on and off the field. So my advice to you is to find what you’re passionate about and then place your energy there.
Check out the Playtex Sport mosaic app on Facebook and create your own active moment mosaics. Share them with friends and a $1 donation will be made to the Women’s Sports Foundation in support of programs that nurture healthy, active and confident girls. Then, tell us what makes you Unstoppable in the comments section below!
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