Gretchen Bleiler’s Down Season
As the sport has become more year-round, Gretchen Bleiler snowboards in Chile and other southern hemisphere spots during the summer.
When I first started snowboarding, it was something that was only really done in the winter. Mount Hood in Oregon was the magical exception. It’s a snow field, which makes it ride-able in the summer months. Patches of the mountain are sectioned off into different snowboard camps filled with rails, all different types and sizes of jumps and small pipes and big pipes. It’s basically a snowboard park wonderland.
A session at Mt. Hood camp is about week, and if you got a week of riding in during the summer, well you were stoked and had definitely learned at least one or two new tricks.
Things have really changed since then and at this point, if you’re a professional snowboarder, then it’s really a year-round sport. When the last of the resorts close here in the northern hemisphere, we pack up and head down to the southern hemisphere to places like New Zealand, Chile and Argentina where winter is just kicking off.
Mt. Hood is still one of my favorites for its sun, warmth and slushy, forgiving conditions. But the sport has also gotten to the point where if you don’t ride during the summer you fall behind.
Still, there are definitely “on” times and “down” times in the life of a pro shred and the month of May definitely falls in the “down” time category. But it’s “down” time in terms of actually being on snow — because when I think about my May it was pretty full. I had photo shoots, sponsor meetings, U.S. Team physical testing camp and a sponsor appearance in Tennessee, mixed in with a surf trip to El Salvador — where I’m currently writing this!
The few times I’ve been home in California (where I base during the down season with my husband and dog, Kota), I’ve been catching up on bills I forgot to pay during the winter (not really!), spending time with family and friends and trying to focus on wellness: nutrition, meditation, yoga, gym workouts, runs by the beach, surfing and reading. This is also a great time for watching snowboard video footage, working on visualization and goal setting — and getting totally sucked into TV shows like “American Idol,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Voice.” Guilty pleasures that just don’t fit into the “on” time schedule!
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