First Look: Gretchen Bleiler in ESPN ‘Body Issue’ |

First Look: Gretchen Bleiler in ESPN ‘Body Issue’

UPDATE: ESPN is previewing photos and videos from its 3rd annual ‘Body Issue’ that hits newsstands Friday.

To see what pro snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler describes as her “bad-ass” photos (plus commentary from other athletes), click here.

Other athletes posing in the buff for the “Bodies We Want 2011” photo gallery include: Olympic gymnast Alicia Sacramone, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers; Steven Jackson of the St. Louis Rams; speedskater Apolo Ohno; track and field star Natasha Hastings; and LPGA rookie Belen Mozo.

Bleiler, who won a silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, will be one of four athletes appearing on four different covers of the issue. The other three are: soccer goalie Hope Solo; Jose Reyes of the New York Mets; and Griffin.

PREVIOUS: Olympic snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler says she’s one of the athletes appearing on the four covers of ESPN The Magazine‘s third annual “Body Issue” that hits newsstands Friday.

The other three: U.S. soccer goalie Hope Solo; the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin; and the New York Mets’ Jose Reyes.

Bleiler’s pleased with her risque photo shoot. “I wanted that bad-ass vibe. I didn’t want soft and cute and sexy,” she says in an interview.

Besides Bleiler, Solo, Griffin and Reyes, there will be 18 other athletes posing nude (with private parts strategically covered) in the “Bodies We Want” section.

The other female athletes are: Olympic gymnast Alicia Sacramone; Sylvia Fowles of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky; LPGA rookie Belen Mozo; track and field star Natasha Hastings; hockey player Julie Chu; tennis player Vera Zvonareva; surfer Steph Gilmore; roller derby skater Suzy Hotrod and bowler Kelly Kulick.

The other male athletes are: Steven Jackson of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams; speedskater Apolo Ohno; hockey player Ryan Kesler of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks; UFC fighter Jon Jones; IndyCar racer Helio Castroneves; snowboarder Louie Vito; boxer Sergio Martinez; marathoner Ryan Hall and Paralympian Jeremy Campbell.

NUDE AWAKENING: 22 athletes in ESPN’s Body Issue

PHOTOS: Images of Body Issue athletes

FIRST LOOK: Diana Taurasi in 2010 Body Issue

Bleiler, who won a silver medal at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy, previously turned down ESPN’s requests to appear. USA TODAY’s Michael McCarthy went one-on-one with Bleiler about why she decided to participate in this year’s issue. Excerpts:

Why say yes this time?

There’s some history that comes with all of it. Basically, when I was younger, when I was just kind of having success in snowboarding, I did some sexy, half-naked shots (for FHM magazine). Afterwards, I chose to eliminate those opportunities from my plan. I was pretty outspoken about why it wasn’t for me. The reason I’ve chosen to say yes now is I’m at a point where I want to do this. Before it was something that I felt like I had to do. But I was younger. Now I’m at a point in my life where I wanted to do it. I didn’t think there was a better way to do it than with ESPN and their Body Issue. … (The issue) shows every type of body can be strong and powerful and beautiful. I love that about it.

What’s the difference between this and previous magazine layouts?

I did FHM. It wasn’t so much that it was a negative experience. But it was something I felt like I had to do. It was more sexy. To me this is very different from that. This is not about being sexy but about being strong and powerful and showing girls it’s OK to have muscles. … And that strength and power is beautiful.

Tell us about your photo shoot?

I had a very strong vision. I clearly communicated what I wanted it to be. … I wanted that bad-ass vibe. I didn’t want as much soft and cute and sexy. But I wanted strong, powerful. I spoke with all the guys at ESPN about that. I spoke with the photographer about that. Everyone was like,’Yes, totally.’ I’m definitely a very smiley person. It’s way easier for me to smile than to not smile. I definitely made it a point on the shoot. I wanted it to be tough. So I told (photographer Francesco Carrozzini), ‘Please don’t make me smile, I don’t want to smile.’ I wanted to be tough and determined. He was like, ‘That’s perfect because that’s my specialty.’ So we were a good combo. … I was very happy at the end of this shoot. I felt like it was everything that I wanted.

Any athlete photos from previous Body Issues you liked?

There was one photo that totally inspired me. Just oozed with that feeling of bad-ass, tough photo. … (Soccer goalie) Tim Howard (see photo from 2010 issue here). He was my inspiration. I just loved that photo of him. He’s just standing there, looking straight into the camera. His hands are over the bottom half of him with his gloves. I think he had dirt all over him. And obviously he’s completely ripped. It was just tough and bad-ass and I loved that. That’s actually the photo that made me say, ‘OK, I want to do this too.’


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Posted on: October 5, 2011