Different year, same story. With the women's superpipe finals slated to take place tonight at Winter X Games 16, everyone's eyes are set on the unstoppable Kelly Clark. It's somewhat intimidating for the other ladies heading into the competition when they're aware that the person they're aiming to beat has won the last 12 contests she's competed in. A pretty legit feat to brag about.
Kelly Clark, most recently recognized for being the first and only female so far to stomp a 1080 in the halfpipe, is considered to be a certified halfpipe master. She has continuously upped the ante for all ladies alike riding halfpipe as well as for women's snowboarding as a whole. However, this time around the girls are catching onto Kelly's game and are pushing themselves to give Clark a run for her money.
Challenging Clark tonight will be a stacked field of contenders, consisting of Gretchen Bleiler, Torah Bright, Hannah Teter, Maddy Schaffrick, Elena Hight, Kaitlyn Farrington, and Xuetong Cai. All these riders are capable of putting down a technical and solid run however, if Kelly Clark brings her A-game, which she most always does, it will be pretty difficult to out-ride her in this discipline.
So, who will it be? A heavily experienced group of riders all hungry for the win will provide an intense snowboard battle. Talks of new tricks being laid out over the 22-foot halfpipe from--which should come as no surprise--Clark have begun to circulate. However, not to be outdone, Gretchen Bleiler has thrown her name into the mix, and will be one to watch for, as she nearly edged out Clark at the Winter Dew Tour in Breckenridge, CO. If this happens, pipe finals will be one of the most progressive women's events we've ever seen.
But when there's a gold medal up for grabs with every girl thinking it would look best on them, prior statistics can be meaningless. So who will rise up and end Clark's run of domination? Or will Clark continue her strong run and stomp the competition? Find out tonight when the women's snowboard pipe finals commence at 9 pm.
Photo: Huggy/SNOWBOARDER Magazine
Kelly landing her first 1080 below:
Last season, Gretchen Bleiler traveled the globe on shred adventures and teamed up with Holga Sports by releasing two Limited Edition Gretchen Bleiler Holga Cameras.
Throughout her worldwide travels, she brought along her Holga's and snapped pics at each destination. From California, Colorado, British Columbia and France, Gretchen's season was packed with photo op's in picturesque places.
Now she's giving us a glimpse into her season as she saw it through her Holga.
Words & Photos: Gretchen Bleiler
This past winter season I took some "time off" from competition in order to give myself more of an open schedule to learn and take my riding to another level. The reason time off is in quotes is because I still competed in five major events; the Dew Tour, X Games, Grand Prix, US Open and European X Games. It was a really awesome season for me, as I feel like what I accomplished is exactly what I was looking for; a fresh perspective on why I love to compete and some real time changing the way I ride. I also got to get artsy with my HOLGA camera which I LOVE, so check out some of my shots from the season.
I live in Carlsbad, CA half the year with my husband, Chris, and our beloved dog-der, Kota. So every season begins with me moving back to Colorado for the winter. Here is a beautiful goodbye sunset and one last walk with Kota in the Eucalyptus forest.
The early season starts off riding in wintry Summit County. First we ride Copper and then we move over to Breckenridge. Here we're walking to the mountain one cold, snowy morning to go ride some fresh pow at Copper some fresh snow. That's Kaitlyn Farrington, Scotty Lago, and Kelly Clark.
X Games is the most high flying spectacular of the year and this year it was in 3D!!!!! So here are the halfpipe girls the night of finals, in the athlete tent at the top of the pipe, watching all the X coverage in our cool snazzy 3D glasses. Kelly Clark, Tricia Byrnes, Liesl Holtz, Susie Floros, Elena Hight, Kaitlyn Farrington and Gillian Honeyman
There is a really good reason that the X Games is always one of the most progressive contests of the season. The location of Aspen, CO and the perfection of the halfpipe. Here is Frank Well's famed pipe, one beautiful practice day before the main event. We all sort of wished we could have competed this day because it was just so dang good....sun, warmth and perfect snow conditions.
One of my favorite trips was going catboardin' at Chatter Creek this February with Kelly Clark, photographer Cole Barash and filmer Bob Hoste. Thanks Oakley!
We got blessed with three perfectly blue bird days and some really nice snow......but it sure was COLD. Temps dropped to -33 degrees Fahrenheit one day. Skin exposure was not allowed.
Another staple in the contest circuit is the US Open at Stratton, Vermont. This place is known for it's "wintry mix" and we sure do get a good feel of what that is every time we come to this part of the country. Here's a shot of Startton beginning to thaw out after a few day ice storm; it was like an icy fairy tale land.
The European X Games in Tignes, France wrapped up my "down season from contests" This was my first time competing at this event and also spending time in Tignes. It definitely felt like a European vacation. One, because of the gorgeous and dramatic setting and two, because practice was only at night, which left a lot of extra time in the day for hanging out-coffee drinking and late night activities. We also had a futuristic shower that had all sorts of water massage type settings and a radio...what more can you ask for really?
Now I'm just counting down the days to head back to Summit County to do it again, but more and better! Happy winter everyone!!
Check out more of Gretchen's photos after the jump.
If someone asked you to pose naked for millions to see, would you do it? If you had a body as rock hard and toned as Louie Vito and Gretchen Bleiler, your answer would most likely be yes.
Today, ESPN: The Magazine released a few tantalizing photos from their latest issue, The Body Issue, which features photos of top athletes sporting everything that their mama gave them, buck naked in their birthday suits. Olympic snowboarders, Gretchen Bleiler and Louie Vito are among the athletes featured and have several shots in the magazine which hits newsstands on October 7th.
In a behind-the-scenes interview during the shoot, Gretchen commented that initially being naked was "nerve-racking" but as the day wore on, she became more and more comfortable.
Gretchen also said, "It's a huge honor to be grouped in with some of the most amazing and skilled athletes in the world. Celebrating Men, women. Every different kind of body, every different kind of sport and showing that everything is beautiful in a very athletic way. I want to be strong and I want to be badass and I think we accomplished that."
We knew Gretchen and Louie were ripped, but their physiques are seriously epic. Who knew the Tiny Dancer was hiding all that under his dancing clothes?!
Head here to check out ESPN's gallery of all the athletes called "Bodies we want."
You can also click the video below to see the behind-the-scenes interview with Gretchen Bleiler.
Recently, we had a chance to catch up with Gretchen Bleiler to get the scoop on her season and to hear about the all gigs she's got going on.
Bleiler is known as one of the fiercest female halfpipe competitors and has won four X Games gold medals, and a silver medal from the 2006 Tornio Olympics. While she's a heavy force in the halfpipe scene, she's also a guru in burgeoning green movement and is using her influence to support these causes.
We got the low down on all of this and more during the X Games in her hometown of Aspen, CO.
This year was Bleiler's tenth year to compete and she let us in on her goals for the event.
Always my goals for Winter X are to enjoy this experience because there is nothing quite like the energy of the X Games. There really isn't any event that can emulate what goes on here, but just living it, enjoying it, appreciating it, and having a lot of fun during it. I always try to focus on the things I can control, which is just doing the best I can.
Recently, Gretchen started blogging for espnW , a "destination for women who are passionate sport fans and athletes." She's using the site as a creative outlet and as a platform to share her thoughts and plans with other girls. She's excited about the experience and said,
So far I've been blogging once a month for espnW. I think it's just a really great opportunity that espnW is providing. It's a new place where women can go to hear real life stories about athletes and women in general.Its a pretty large audience, so for me it's been fun because I actually have to sit down every month and think about something impactful that I want to write about.
The first one that I wrote actually had quite an impact, I wrote about how I wanted to take a different approach to this season, not competing as much, and right away calls were flooding in, and people were texting and emailing me, asking if I was retiring. It was kind of funny, because I wrote that was I taking a little time off competitions in order to ride and learn more, and to push myself more than I ever have in my life. Someone didn't quite read the blog, and wrote another blog and then there was all this commotion and it just goes to show what an impact espnW has already.
The first blog that Gretchen wrote did cause quite a stir, but thankfully Gretchen is no where near retiring and has plans to continue progressing women's snowboarding. This season she's looking to get out there, shred and experience different elements within the sport.
The focus this year is more riding. More backcountry riding, park, jumps, and maybe going to Mammoth to hit the air bag to learn new tricks.
When she's not slaying the pipe or perfecting pow turns, Gretchen spends time working on her growing Oakley line. She's had a line with the global company for three years and every season the line grows with great stylish and technologically advanced pieces.
I have three outerwear jackets, one pant and bunch of lifestyle stuff, eyewear, and accessories. It's amazing! I enjoy it so much. It's definitely a full time job, but I love it. I get to work with the designers on everything from the colors, to the fit, the trims, to the different silhouettes, and I just love it. I'm so lucky to work with these designers because they are all so talented and every year it's bigger and great. Now three of the seasons lines are out there and when I'm traveling around its awesome seeing girls to women wearing it and liking it as much as I do. It's just so fun to see.
Her collection is an eclectic mix of art-forward pieces that are functional and fashionable. There's something for everyone in the line and Gretchen had this to say about her favorite items:
The Eco Jacket is my favorite mainly because it's made from 100 percent recycled items and can be recycled which is big thing for the environment. It takes less energy to produce, giving off less carbon emissions into our atmosphere, making it a lower impact jacket.
Everyone should be conscientious of and supporting these things, because climate change is a really big deal, and we all should be aware of that.
Not only is it good for the environment, but its also very stylish. It has a bunch of buttons running down the front of it and it has a very tailored look.
It comes in a bunch of really great colors and the inside has an amazingly vibrant pattern of morpho butterflies. This amazing butterfly is found in Central America and it's all about their wings.
They actually aren't a single color, but have iridescence, which creates the colors. It's a beauty within concept, so you get all of these awesome combos with the jacket and not only is it for the environmentalist, but for the fashon forward girl as well.
Gretchen has been pioneering the green movement within the snowboard community, and is looking to extend this influence into the mainstream. We talked about her new company, their products, and the plans for the future.
The parent company is called Nice Reusables, and the first product we launched was the Alex Bottle which stands for Always Live Extraordinarily. Alex is a stainless steel reusable water bottle that we created because we found that there's a problem with current reusable bottles.
They all have small little mouths that you can't get in and its almost impossible to actually get in there and clean properly.
My husband came up with the idea for the Alex Bottle and it unscrews in the middle, so it's a reusable bottle that can be easily cleaned. It's great for travel because it's really easy to pack and comes in three sizes which can all fit within each other.
The whole idea with Nice Reusables is to make sustainability simple. We found a problem in the market and Alex is our solution. We are a start up company and are still looking for investor money and are excited to launch other products.
Speaking of products, Gretchen and Holga Sports recently unveiled the The Gretchen Bleiler Limited Edition Holga Camera. She has partnered with the camera company and has released two different models.
Both of the cameras produce unique images that are funky and fun. On the bottom of each camera scrawled in Gretchen's handwriting is this meaningful quote "Every single one of us has the unique opportunity to create awareness and influence change."
Gretchen is really excited about this partnership and noted that a portion of all proceeds from the The Gretchen Bleiler Holga 120 will be donated to Protect our Winters. This is a non-profit organization "dedicated to reversing the global warming crisis by uniting the winter sports community and fighting against climate change."
Gretchen is a busy gal and a great role model whose paving the way for girl shreds across the world. She'll be competing in the upcoming Grand Prix, the Burton US Open, and Euro X Games. Look for her to be doing what she does best, following her dreams, slaying the pipe and boosting the green revolution.
Be sure to check out Gretchen's Holga cameras here and head on over to Oakley pick up some pieces from her line.
Ready to charge the biggest jump in the park? Tired of feeling scared out of your mind to charge that rail? Finally want to be the one to drop in first and kill the halfpipe? The time has come ladies, The 2011 Oakley Progression Sessions is your freestyle shred haven and the time to register is now.
For women by women, this all-girl 2 day ski and snowboard progression camp is aimed at those riders who want to step it up and lose the training wheels. This isn't a beginner ski school girls, Head Coach Mary Walsh, and Oakley team riders Gretchen Bleiler and Grete Eliassen will be pushing limits and teaching you the steps to ride like they do - as in...kill it.
Surrounded by girls who are just as passionate about snowboarding and skiing as the next; Oakley is aiming to create a vibe where no one is intimidated and everyone is confident in their riding abilities. Fully equipped with a private park, yoga sessions, video feedback, prize giveaways, and much more, this is something that you can't miss out on. The first session at Loon Mountain is already SOLD OUT so it's time to get the ball rollin' and REGISTER at your preferred mountain!
Riding with the guys is always fun but there's nothing better than taking over the park with a bunch of your girlfriends and showing them what's up. The Oakley Progression Sessions is the ideal way to do just that with a coaching staff stock full of top-notch riders like Gretchen Bleiler, Grete Eliassen, Marie-France Roy, Chanelle Sladics, Silvia Mittermuller, Dominique Vallee,and Kristi Leskinen - not a bad group of chicks to be learning to shred from.
Space is limited so head over to http://www.oakleyprogressionsessions.com to register for your session and get more information. What better time to start pushing your riding than now?
Full camp session schedule below:
March 5/6 - Loon Mtn: Grete Eliassen & Chanelle Sladics, Silvia Mittermuller
March 12/13 - Canyons: Grete Eliassen, Marie-France Roy, Dom Vallee
March 19/20 - Winter Park: Chanelle Sladics & Kristi Leskinen, Marie-France Roy
March 26/27 - Northstar: Gretchen Bleiler & Kristi Leskinen, Silvia Mittermuller, Dom Vallee